Sunday 11 November 2012

Poppy Half Marathon

This race is named because it takes place on Remembrance Sunday each year. In order that runners can attend services in the morning, the race begins at 12.30pm.

Spoiler alert - I got a medal!
As I mentioned in my previous post, I did not have a great run up to this race. Having focused my training on the Great South Run (10 miles) I didn't do enough longer runs for this race, and then over the last 2 weeks, I've had various niggles - sore legs, cold symptoms, a bit of shin pain. Then on Friday night, I was walking home with the kids when I had a sudden attack of sciatica.

I've suffered a bit with it before, but it's usually manageable, but on Friday I could not walk! I had to keep stopping, and when I got home, I was struggling to walk up the stairs! I spent that evening rolling my backside on a tennis ball and foam roller, which seemed to help. The next morning it was much better, although there was still an ache there.

So this morning I was mainly hoping to finish the race, with a small wish that I could still go sub 2 hours. My PB was in March, on a hilly course, whereas this race is almost completely flat. Conditions were perfect too, as it was not too cold, there was not much wind, and the sun was shining all day.

Before the main race, there was a kids' race, and Robbie and Emma ran the 500 metres again. On the previous occasions when they've raced, I have run with Emma, but she was in an independent mood today, and didn't want me slowing her down. But she did then ask Robbie to stay with her. So they ran together, and went much slower than last time! Emma needed a pushy Mum there urging her on, it seems... They just pootled around, enjoying themselves!

Then it was my turn. The course was 4 laps of just over 5km. It was mainly along the coast, and the sun shining on the sea was beautiful. After my success in the GSR, I set off at a good pace. The first 4 miles were pretty fast; 8m26s; 8m16s; 8m21s; 8m13s. I was feeling good, and hoping I could keep this pace up. The trouble was, I hadn't really planned what my pace should be beforehand (due to all the illness), and in fact this was much too fast. 2 weeks ago, I ran a fast 10 miles with my first 4 miles all over 8m45s, so I was overdoing it now.
Feeling good at this point
I wasn't aware of it though, and the next few miles went ok - miles 5,6 and 7 were all 8m40s. But around mile 7 I crashed and burned. The speed of the start caught up with me, and my body reminded me that I was not as fit as I wanted to be. I stopped at a water station (something I rarely do) and walked for a while as I sipped the drink. Once I stopped to walk, the game was up mentally. I knew I had given in.

The rest of the race was just a big struggle. My legs were exhausted, and I could feel all sorts of aches and pain - a shin problem follwed by ankle pain in my left leg; sciatic pain in my right, and later the dreaded heel pain. Bleurk. From then on, all my mile splits were over 9 minutes, and 2 of them were over 10. I walked several times, and found it difficult to cope with the laps - it meant that people were finishing right next to me while I still had over 3 miles to go!
Getting tired...
To my surprise though, due to my fast start, when I got to the 10 mile point, I was around the same time as my PB from the GSR! I was on a downward trajetory though, and did a lot of walking in those last 3 miles, as well as some shuffling. In this race I was forced to appreciate for the first time, the wisdom of not going off too fast.

Concentrating hard on keeping going!
I usually try to run my last miles faster than the first few, and save something for a sprint finish, but today I didn't really care - I was just desperate to stop. I crossed the line in 2h 00m 25s, and I wasn't even bothered about those 25 seconds! In fact I was quite pleased that I had run such a bad, tough, seemingly disasterous race, and still got within 2 minutes of my PB.

It's a shame that I'm probably capable of beating my March PB, and this was a great course and a perfect day to do it on, but I just didn't have the fitness. I'm not too upset though. I'm glad I finished (when around mile 8 I wondered if I might not), and my time wasn't too bad. The medal is also really nice!
Poppies, the town's Pavilion building, and a runner - love it!
I think I'm going to take a week off from running now. I really want to give myself a good chance of being fit and well when I start marathon training at the end of the year (gulp), and I think my legs need a rest. My plan is to cycle, strength train and maybe even swim this week (but I must admit, I might sneak a little run in there in a few days' time...).


  1. Congratulations! You did it! It must have been hard to keep running with all the pain, it is amazing that you even finished!!The medal is beautiful!! So cool that your kids also run! I can't wait for my son to be old enough and run with me :)

  2. Congrats! You did so well! I think your week plan is great, sometimes a week off running is exactly what's needed. congrats again!

  3. It sounds like a really rough second half. I've done the same - started off too fast - too many times to count and the second half often resembles a death march. Well done on finishing and in a really respectable time.

  4. I love that medal. Congrats on finishing a tough race. And with a great time! My post I am working on is about taking off 5 days this week. I needed it.

  5. Such a pretty medal. As I read your recap, I was thinking that it was a shame you weren't feeling well after the start but that at least you finished. But, you really did a great job despite not feeling well! Nice work! I so often start too fast and then tank. It's hard to avoid getting caught up in the speed at the start of the race.

  6. Sorry it was such a struggle, but you still did really well considering! And what a nice medal!
    Sounds like taking a week off is a great idea - pamper yourself a bit and enjoy!

  7. That really is a very nice medal. Sorry it was a rough run. Hope all the aches and pains have gone away. Enjoy the week off from running!

  8. Well done! That is certainly a good time when you were battling to keep going for so long. Very nice medal! Rest well!

  9. I did not beat any of those young men. It was strange starts and they would have started after me believe me.

  10. You may remember it took me months to get into that wet suit. Try it! It's fun.

  11. To my surprise though, due to my fast start, when I got to the 10 mile point, I was around the same time as my PB from the GSR! I was on a downward trajetory though, and did a lot of walking in those last 3 miles, as well as some shuffling. In this race I was forced to appreciate for the first time, the wisdom of not going off too fast.
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