On Sunday I took part in my 5th half marathon race, almost 2 years after my first. Looking back at that experience, I was just happy to have completed it and I felt my time of 2 hours 14 minutes was pretty decent. Since then I have clocked a 1.54.08, 1.52.22 and most recently in February a 1.46.07. At the time, I thought the later was pretty near to my peak. However, since my marathon in April and joining Ealing Eagles running club, my training has gone really well. I’ve smashed my 5k and 10k times and as a result I felt that I was in shape to run under 1.40.
We had around 15 runners from the club heading to Maidenhead and a similar number of supporters. Outside of the summer league club races this was a completely new experience for me. I’ve often known one or two other people running, but to travel down with my fellow club members and have a ready made supporters club was a great experience.
The course was a flat, 2 lap route around Maidenhead and Cookham. Not the most exciting route but a quick one. I decided to go off around 7.30mm pace which would have me finish around 1.38/1.39, with the thought process being that if I did slow up towards the end I would have a bit in the tank. There were about 2,000 runners, which did make the start a bit crowded but we soon spread out and I was able to get into my rhythm. A lot of the Eagles running on Sunday were pretty quick so they all disappeared out of site quite quickly. This was fine – I was able to focus on my own race and there was plenty of support around the course. After about 6 miles I caught up with a fellow Eagle who was struggling. We ran together for a bit before he dropped back again. I was feeling pretty good at this point and felt that if I could maintain the pace maybe I could achieve a 1.38. By mile 11 I caught up with another Eagle, again a quick chat and I ran on. This is when I saw Piers and Graham up ahead. They were both hoping to go faster than me, but I felt that I had enough in the tank to catch them up. I pushed on, picking up the pace to below 7mm and they were slowly but surely coming back towards me. With about 150m to go I caught up with them both and eased past them. I was feeling great, I pushed one last time. 50m to go. Suddenly out of nowhere, Graham and Piers breezed past me. They were sprinting against each other towards the line. I couldn’t respond, but was happy with my race anyway. Piers pipped Graham, but it was great to have 3 Eagles finishing one after each other in the race.
My time – 1.37.04. Still can’t believe it. Never thought I would be able to run this quickly. I’ve put in a lot of effort, but a lot of this is down to joining the Eagles back in April. I might even be tempted to try a 3.30 marathon next year!