This is a race I wasn’t sure whether or not I wanted to enter or not. It was one month since I did a marathon, and only a week since I last did a 10K race so I wasn’t that sure if it was a good idea or not. Since the marathon I’ve barely run, and my longest distance since then was only 10K – so I felt a little underprepared to do my second Half Marathon.
When I did the Robin Hood Half Marathon it had been warmer, and I’d been building up to it. This time I felt I didn’t have much hope of beating this, but I thought it’d be nice to make sure I can still run further than 10K and would be a nice way to finish this year’s races (assuming I wouldn’t be tempted into any more after this). I knew the weather wasn’t going to be great, but on the day of the race it wasn’t just raining, but it was heavy rain. It was important I forced myself to do this, I’ve been failing as a runner and had been losing the motivation to run over the past month. Every run has been a mental challenge, one I haven’t felt I could win. I decided that making myself do races would be a way to keep pushing myself to run.
The car parking was just behind the paddocks and was supposed to only be 50p for the day, but as they don’t give change it meant it cost a little more. Surprisingly though, even though I had aimed to arrive fairly late due to the rain I was still one of the first ones to turn up so got to park only a few spaces away from the entrance to the paddock being used for the race registration.
The registration was nice and quick, but didn’t require ID which the website had said was required. You have to find out your number from one person, and then ask another person for the race bid based on the number. When I said “504” the second lady didn’t believe me as she couldn’t see it in her box, so had to get another person to help her after having rechecked the list herself to make sure I wasn’t lying. Once I’d collected the race number I then attached the chip to my trainers and waited for the start. As it was very wet I wasn’t just wearing a base layer and technical t-shirt like the previous week’s race, but was also wearing my waterproof coat.
Once it was time for the race they led us on a 10 minute walk from the paddocks to the start line near Coppice corner. This was so that we’d cover 13.1 miles as 5 laps of the circuit would not quite be enough. Now this is a track I’ve raced on in video games such as Forza so I felt it wasn’t going to be that bad, and should be fairly flat. What I hadn’t realised, or hadn’t remembered from racing games, is that from the Old Hairpin corner up to Coppice corner it is a slow incline, though Craner Curves is quite a steep descent so in some ways that makes up for it. For the first lap my intention was to take it easy to see where I would be slowed, and where I’d be able to make up for it. In the end I spent more time trying to see through my rain drenched glasses than keeping an eye on my pace so it was a little quicker than I intended.
The problem with running a Half Marathon on 2.5 mile long track is that it can become very hard work to keep your head in the race. I found on the second lap I spent a lot of the lap reminding myself this was the second lap, and was thinking about what was coming up ahead and may have altered my pace where I didn’t need to just because of having already run a lap. On the third lap it started to feel very hard going up the hilly part of the track, but I didn’t want to walk. I was gutted that I’d had to walk some of the marathon a month before and I didn’t want to do that for a half marathon – I’ve never walked when running this distance. This kept me going a little longer and I dropped my pace a little until the Melbourne Hairpin. This led into what I felt was a stronger 4th lap, though I was trying to not let getting lapped by the course leaders put me off – I had lapped others so I was trying to convince myself that this kinda balanced out. Hopefully those I did this to weren’t offended by it!
It felt like such a relief to finally start the fifth lap, though I knew the winners had already finished – I could see them relaxing at the side of the track. I started to think how good it would be to be finished and I think this was the start of my race going down hill (besides the fact that just after the corner the track does go down hill).
As I reached the top of McClean’s corner and the completion of 12 miles I resorted to walking briefly. I didn’t want to, but I was starting to struggle to maintain the pace – I’d messed up. My feet were drenched and what I could feel were blisters were beginning to get very sore. I was also overheating – I shouldn’t have used my waterproofs I should have just got wet, and perhaps then I wouldn’t have looked such an idiot running in my coat either.
I then walked to Coppice corner and started running again along Starkey’s Straight, but walked again briefly around The Esses. Before reaching the Melbourne Hairpin I really wanted to walk again, but decided I couldn’t let myself do that – I’d already walked about half a mile of this last lap, so I started to pick up my pace a little instead.
Just after rounding Goddard’s corner I then started to work up to sprint speed to try and get a strong finish, and finally I was done. I’m surprised that I finished, I think even as far back as the second lap I wanted to quit, and before the race even started I was struggling to convince myself to start (I almost stayed in bed this morning). I’m pleased I did it though, I set a new PB for a Half Marathon with a time of 1:39:20 (though my watch says I ran 13.21 rather than 13.1).
It was a tough race – the rain, too many layers (to try and stay dry), and that relentless hill. I think it had been worthwhile though, but whether I do this race again in future is yet to be determined.
The official results was a gun time of 1:39:32, and a chip time of 1:39:17 – this put me in position 66 out of a field of 361 finishers (18%). So I finished 5 laps of Donington Park in almost the same time it took Hamilton to do 55 laps of Abu Dhabi in the Formula 1 today.