I rarely get sick but I got sick this week. Although there’s 18 miles on the schedule this weekend, I’m not going to run. I can barely breath with this cold! Really don’t need this 4 weeks till the marathon.
This small race (max 700 runners) is held annually by Hillingdon AC to commemorate one of its founding clubs - Finchley Harriers. The runners this year (and every year I assume) are mostly club runners and they mean business! I’ve never been in a race like this before and I was a little daunted.
My race strategy was to go slow and steady to start with and try to leave some gas in the tank for the last 5 mile lap. Even to try and get negative splits. Did any of this happen? Er, no.
Unfortunately, the powers that be in London’s public transport system conspired and ensure both my local train lines had engineering works on the 11th. This meant a multi-leg commute between SE and W london requiring me to be out of bed by 5.15am to ensure I made the race start of 9.30. I was not impressed.
Finally got to the Hillingdon AC club house. Impressed with their facilities which meant proper changing rooms (including proper toilets). Had plenty of time to go through my pre-race routine. This also meant plenty of time to get nervous as I looked around at my fellow racers in their club vests (I was wearing my Cancer Research top). They all looked like proper athletes.
The seemingly chaotic race start meant we all stood in the middle of a busy road (road was not closed) as the gun went off. There was no race start phasing. Somehow I managed to find myself pretty much in the first group of runners ie the elites. No idea how that happened but I succeeded in not tripping over anyone’s ankles as they flashed past me when the gun went off.
As usual it took me a few miles to settle. Unfortunately I got completely carried away and started off way too fast. I found it difficult to slow down to the pace I knew I should be keeping too. I felt full of energy so just ran fast. And, the undulating route meant keeping a flat pace was tricky.
Anyways, the first 2 laps went ok albeit too fast for me. I knew I would not be able to keep that pace up. Somewhere during the 2nd lap I saw my first elite lap me. I assume this was the eventual race winner - Paul Martelletti of Victoria Park Harriers & Tower Hamlets AC (finish time 1:45:17, fastest time since 1989). He was flying and so far ahead of the next elite. Amazing. I was in awe.
I took an energy gel about 1 hour in at a water station and then another one at about 2 hours. They helped. I think I’ll probably only use 3 gels at the London Marathon - 1,2 ,3 hour marks.
Everything was ticking along ok until I was nearing finishing the 3rd lap. My legs started feeling really tired and things started to bother me. When I get tired, I get annoyed rather than just focussing on floating along running. The undulating course annoyed me. The parts of the race we had to run on the road and the roads were not closed so this meant cars would be on our shoulders waiting for the oncoming traffic to clear before they could overtake us - this annoyed me. The fact I kept spilling more water down my top than made it into my mouth at every water station annoyed me.
I knew I was going to be in trouble on the last lap which was still a whole 5 miles. Thank goodness for the support en route - the wonderful volunteers and great locals who cheered and clapped us from their front gardens as we ran past. They helped me get through that final 5 miles of walking/jogging.
There was nothing left in me to try for negative splits by the last lap. I just wanted to finish. I did complete the race. And even managed to smile and randomingly cheer myself with my arms raised aloft during the last few hundred yards as the finish line came into sight then was crossed.
Collecting my medal and energy drink at the end was a blur. I forgot to stop my garmin for a good minute after finishing. I wanted to cry. These would have been tears of joy, of completing the distance. I felt exactly the same way when I completed my first half marathon - Windsor, Sept 2011.
I didn’t cry at Windsor. And I didn’t cry at the Finchley 20. I’m pretty sure I’m gonna blub at the finish line of the London Marathon though.
Rest day for me given the Finchley 20 is on sunday.
Will do some race prep today - iron my ‘DT’ letters on to my Cancer Research top, pack my bag (remembering safety pins as I forgot them for the Brighton 1/2), decide on banana/cereal bar/lucozade drink combination to have before/after race, pack a couple of energy gels, check tube line status for sunday and build in extra commuting time if needed.
Finally, remind myself of target pace for every single mile. Am going to try the reverse splits strategy where I run the final 5 mile lap (race is 4 x 5 mile laps) quicker than the previous laps. We’re only talking a difference of a few seconds a mile but I think the ability to do this will be a massive win psychologically and introduce some good race discipline ie start off slow and steady.
Although a rest day from running, I may be brave and head long to a house class later. Bly Richards is teaching today at studio 68. Its been a while since I’ve been to any dance classes let alone a house class but I used to love his. Not sure how much I’d be able to keep up with everyone but will see.
My legs were still sore yesterday from the 18 mile run on saturday so I swapped my rest days round. Rest is am important part of training! Rather than run with everyone at Crystal Palace Fun Runners last night as normal, I’m off for a run now. Winter is definately over given its only just getting dark in London :)
Anyways, I think my legs are up to a 6 mile run. Will report on the other side….
Running diary says I’ve run 245 miles in 2012 so far. On track to complete my 2012km Gold Challenge by the start of the Olympics. And on track to complete my first marathon - London marathon, 22nd April.
I ran 18 miles today and found it tough going. Am finding it hard to stay within my training pace for long runs. I think my legs want to continually run at race pace (blaming the Brighton 1/2 marathon for that!) which is fine except I end paying for that faster pace during the last few miles.
Stop walk jog run - stop walk jog run for the last few miles. Oh well, I can only get better :)
Am so excited!! I’ll be running 100m in the Olympic Stadium thanks to the Gold Challenge and the fundraising I’m doing for Cancer Research UK. The Gold Challenge Stadium Day is Sunday 1st April. I’ll be amongst some of the lucky,lucky members of the public who get to run on the 100m track during the ‘test event’ day.
WOO HOO :)
Am practicing my Usain Bolt pre-race pose already :)