Sunday, 12 June 2011

Southend Half Marathon - 12.06.11 - Race Report

I went into this race with expectations dampened due to an irritating knee injury (suspected ITBS)and low run mileage in the lead up to the race. 202 miles in the 90 days leading up to the race, compared with 304 miles in the lead up to Norwich HM where I set my previous PB of 01:34:13.

I had not done myself justice at my previous two runnings of this race, the first due to it being my first ever race, and being hugely undertrained leading to a time of 02:17:48. Last year I ran 01:45:40 and put my poor performance down to the heat. So this year I expected another roasting hot day and with the above mentioned problems I set myself a target of 1 hour 40 minutes.

Upon waking this morning, the weather was very different to the previous two very hot days, the sky was grey but it wasn't raining when I set off to meet up with the parents who were giving me a lift to the start. They dropped me off close to the start line at half 9 and that left me sometime to get myself together and stop off for a pre race loo stop.

I made it to the startline with 10 minutes to go before kick off, and positioned myself right at the front. On my previous two runnings I had found the first two miles very congested, and I had expended far too much time hopping kerbs and running round slower runners.

We were set off just after 10 and I ran hard, I got a bit swept up by the fast runners around me. But I felt strong and didn't feel like I was overly pushing myself. I went through the first mile in 06:31 much faster than my PB mile time of 07:11 or my 1:40 target which would have been 07:38 miling. The second mile was a little downhill as we headed for the seafront and I went through the second mile at the start of the seafront in 06:35. Even at the front it was still a little crowded through the narrow streets with the tight corners, but it didn't slow me down at all. By the seafront, the crowds of runners had thinned out just as the crowds of spectators increased, even with the poor weather there was still a good turn out.

I got settled into a good sized group for the first run along the seafront, and the miles kept falling by fast. Going through miles three and four in 06:41 and 06:44 as we turned around at the Kursaal to head back to complete the first loop. It was at this point that I felt the headwind, and realised that as well as my overly enthuastic start, there had also been a helpful tail wind through the first third of the race.

I settled into a rythm for the middle third of the race that felt comfortable and sustainable and for the next five miles I ran at and around 7 minute miling. I went through 10Km in a PB of around 42minutes and would also have run a 10mile PB, neither of which I will count, but it was still really encouraging and scary thinking I had gone off too fast.

I think I did go off too fast, but my best times across all distances have followed the pattern of going out hard and hoping to hang on in the final stages. Today was no different as my mile times quickly dropped away after mile 9. I knew a PB was on as long as I held it together, and could run 8 minute miles for the final third. But this was feeling very challenging running into the wind and then with the sole hill just before the 11 mile marker. Any dreams I had of sub 90minutes were now long gone, I had gone through half way on target for 88 minutes and it was just a case of hanging on for the PB.

It was during this period that I thought of a film called Gattaca, where two brothers swim out as far as they can before turning around and heading for home. Whoever swam furthest won. The younger, weaker brother always lost, until one day he won. The elder brother asked how he did it, and he said "I left nothing for the way back" and there were alot of times today that I worried I had left nothing for the way back.

I did manage to find my way home and managed to run around 07:30 minute miles for the final 4 miles and found a final surge for the 400 metres to the finish line. I managed to raise my arms before the finish line and stopped the Garmin at 01:32:09 a PB by over 2 minutes! Within a few steps of crossing the finish line my left knee gave up, but I didn't care I had a most unexpected and cherished PB.

The only blot on an otherwise perfect race, was limping around desperately trying to catch a bus to get me to the parents for a roast. I spent as long trying to get a bus as I did running the race! Eventually admitting defeat and getting picked up by my Sister from ASDA Shoeburyness.

Offical Time is 01:32:08 and 150th out of 1507 runners.Sorry for the length of the blog. For all you numbers junkies check out my mile splits, and then grouped into 3 mile sections.

Mile Splits:


3 Mile Splits & The Finish:

1-3 - 19:47 (06:40 per mile)
4-6 - 20:32 (06:51 per mile)
7-9 - 21:03 (07:10 per mile)
10-12 - 22:31 (07:30 per mile)
13-13.1 - 08:19 (07:34 per mile)

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