Race your pace – Eton Dorney half marathon

A slightly delayed update.

3 weeks ago as part of my training for the Greater Manchester Marathon I ran the Race your pace – Eton Dorney half marathon.

2 weeks before this I had by first major set back on my marathon training. After a relatively comfortable 18 mile run around Richmond park I started to feel some pain in my left knee. The pain became worse the next day and it was beginning to feel uncomfortable to walk. I went to get it checked out and the injury was diagnosed as patella tendonitis. Not good, but not as bad as it could have been. I took some anti-inflammatories, took a week off running and undertook daily rehabilitation exercises. I also went swimming a few times to maintain my fitness.

After the week I gradually started to build up the running again and by the end of the week it was time for the half marathon. I had contemplated not taking part as my injury had not completely healed. I decided to go ahead as I really wanted to break the 1.50 mark and a good half marathon time would give me a good prediction of what is possible for the full marathon.

The weather leading up to the half marathon wasn’t very good. A large part of the UK was experiencing flooding, many of these areas very close to the race, and the night before we had winds up to 90 miles/hour. On the morning of the race, the rain had stopped but the winds were still very strong and the course was very exposed.

Anyway, here comes the good stuff. I met up with a few people before the race who are on the runnersworld forum (details previous post). This really helps as having other runners to talk to and share stories with in the hour or so before the gun takes your mind off the race and has a calming influence. The organisation for the race was fantastic, the volunteers were really helpful, the facilities were excellent and there was lots of free energy products to pick from at the start.

10am – off I went. There was only 400 odd runners so unlike some of the larger races that I’ve done in the past it was quite an easy get away and everyone quickly spread out. As the name of the race suggests, there were various pacers at 6,7,8,9,10 min/miles. I was targetting a sub 1.50 so went off at around 8.15/8.20min/miles and as a lot of people were running with a particular pace group I found that I spent a lot of time running on my own.

The race was 4 laps around Eton Dorney lake. After the first kilometer it quickly became apparent how strong the wind was. For about a mile on each lap we had a really strong side wind trying to push us into the lake. Strangely though, I always felt that if I could get through this part on each lap then the rest of the lap would feel like a recovery period. So I used this lap after lap and as the race went on I was feeling stronger and stronger. My splits were moving up and up and I kept on setting myself new goals. Sub 1.49, 1.48 until I thought maybe I could even go under 1.47. I felt so strong with 1.5 miles to go that I increased my pace to around 7.30 min/miles. I wasn’t really paying attention to the overall time, just the average pace so when I crossed the line in 1.46.07 I couldn’t believe it, a 6 minute personal best. I was ecstatic.

So I picked up my medal and technical t-shirt and caught up with my fellow runners. Everyone had a new PB so it was smiles all round. I went away feeling very positive. My knee is not 100% but I am managing it and confident that if I can stay injury free for the next few weeks that a sub 4 hour marathon is within my reach.

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