June 25th 2017
Today I ran Swansea half marathon. It was only my third half marathon, and second in an official event capacity. I did Cheltenham in 1hr57m28s last year, and that was my first ever. For this event I was hoping to get somewhere between 1hr45 and 1hr50.
Because it’s in Swansea and I live in Gloucestershire, I had to wake up at 4:45 to get there. That wasn’t fun. I had to drive to Chepstow for 6am, and got a lift to Swansea from there.
Although it’s been 32 degrees and sunny all through this week, it was raining heavily when the race started at 9am. I wouldn’t have liked to’ve been running in 32 degree heat, so in a way the rain was welcome, it just made everything a bit depressing.
To reach my target time of 1h45 I had to run each of the 21 kilometres in 5 minutes or less. I started off pretty steady, actually beating the 5 minute target of five of the first seven kilometres. The way the Swansea course works is it’s basically 10kms along the beach, and then you turn round and do 10 kms back again. 7-10 was a bit of a struggle. The wind was blowing into our faces on the way out, but I knew when I got to the halfway point I’d get a second wind, both physically and mentally.
It was really difficult though. Between 10 and 15 my pace began dropping to 5:15-5:25/km. I was struggling a bit. At 16 there’s a water and gel packet stand. I grabbed both.
I ended up taking on too much water, which gave me a stitch. Then it got painful.
The above chart shows my pace throughout the race, and that trough at 16km was where I had to walk off a stitch for 15 metres. By that point, you can’t even consider stopping, because all you’ve got left is a 5k. And 5k is easy, right? On a normal day, sure.
I had 5k to go and was at 1hr21 on the watch. I told myself that if I did five 5min/ks I’d end up at around 1hr47, and I’d be happy with that.
I struggled through 16, 17, and 18 at no great speed, and then picked it up a bit towards the end. By this point I just wanted to beat 1hr50. I sprinted across the line at 2:43/km, and it’s a good job that I did.
My final time was 1:49:43. 17 seconds ahead of my secondary target, and almost 8 minutes better than my previous Personal Best.
I’m both disappointed and pleased with that. I’ve said it before, but that is kind of the essence of running. No matter how well you do, you always think you could’ve done a little bit better.
Until tomorrow, I’ll do a little better next time.