Numpty running at Solent Half Marathon

Some days running feels good and others not so good.

Yesterday was the latter.

Having suffered with man-flu for a week or so, I was hoping that it would clear up in time for me to put in a reasonable effort at the Solent Half Marathon. Unfortunately, it wasn’t completely clear before the race.

I left home at 8am and had chance to drive the course before heading to Gang Warrily Leisure Centre near Fawley. I was aware the last 4 miles were undulating but the hills were a little worse than I’d hoped. I should have taken Tamsyn’s advice and run them!

On arrival, there was plenty of time before the start so time to chat with several LRRs. The club had over 40 runners taking part. Not bad for a field of about 400 runners.

Other than not feeling 100% and having several bad night’s sleep, my biggest mistake was pacing. I’ve recently had a couple of good parkrun finish times and those translated to a 1:52 half marathon (5:18 mins/km pace). I stupidly decided to aim for that pace for 10 miles and then slow for the hilly section. The plan worked… for a while. However, the whole first half of the race was a little less flat than I’d expected and by 6-7 miles my race was falling apart.

By mile 7 I was taking walk breaks and doubted whether I’d finish. I knew full well that the worst of the course was yet to come.

For the last 6 miles, I spent as long walking as I did running. I won’t share my Garmin stats. They are not pretty viewing. My hopes of a sub-2 hour half lost several miles back.

The last few hundred metres were on soggy grass and it was a real struggle to cross the line. I did eventually in 2:11:52 (from memory).

I was really disappointed in myself particularly after almost getting back to PB form for 5km. There was no-one else to blame than myself though. I’d set myself an unrealistic goal, over-cooked things at the start and then completely unravelled by halfway through the race. Numpty!!

Other LRR had great races (Ben Pitman, Tom Papenbrock, Gary Painting, Tamsyn Smith, Irene Loreno Millan, Kirsty Ware-Lane, the ever-smiling Jeff Scarle, Kev Yates, Rob Benham, Rob Kelly to name but a few) and the support from several non-running club members including Jim Davies, Stuart Smith, Di Mattingly and Lynda Cox. Thanks all for trying to make me find the mental strength to carry on.

I’ve now got 2 weeks until the Great South Run. The GSR has beaten me twice before and I’m hoping it won’t again. In 2010, I struggled home in 1:37:04. In 2011, I DNFd and hobbled off at 6 miles with an existing injury (stress fracture if memory serves me well.)

The plan for GSR 2012 is a sub-1:30 finish. This would equate to a 2 hour half marathon (the target I should’ve stuck to at the Solent Half). That’s 5:35 mins/km pacing and I will stick with that throughout the race as best I can. I’ve run some of my best 10Ks and longer by setting myself a realistic pace goal and sticking to it.

3 thoughts on “Numpty running at Solent Half Marathon

  1. Oh James, I’m sorry to hear you had such a bad experience yesterday. You cannot blame yourself, when struck by illness. The cold or flu is totally destructive for runners. It severely affects the cardiovascular system, which is your engine as a runner. I had much the same experience in the 2008 Great South Run.

    It’s probably not what you want to hear, but if there’s only 2 weeks till the GSR, I’d rest and recover from the cold, to make sure you’re fully fit for it. If you train before getting over the cold, it’ll just set you back, weakening your body and allowing the cold to return!

    Sorry for sticking my nose in, but I thought I’d pass on my experiences of running whilst ill.

    • Many thanks Rikki. Wise words and great advice. Much appreciated. It’s advice I’ve heard from a few people now and it’s certainly going to be followed. Many thanks again.

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