January 15th, 2017 Brass Monkey marked my first attempt at the half marathon distance and at 5:45 am on the 21st October my race prep for attempt two began.
I had been delighted with my time of 2:10 in 2017, far quicker than I ever imagined. Could 2018 be quicker? Should I be dreaming of the elusive sub 2??
My 5k and 10k times had improved though according to VDOT. Not quite enough to expect this time; still floating around the high 26 for 5k and unable to get below 55 in 10k. A training plan was set to aim for 2:05. Still a decent PB.
As always, life gets in the way of sticking hard to any plan. This plan was also more daunting and regimented than the beginner’s plan I had followed last year. Simply running 10 miles was no longer enough; I had to run the miles at a set pace and the run strides at the end (these often got forgotten….).
Bearing in mind the timing of the run, committing to training throughout winter and peaking over Christmas time is tough. Certainly makes you feel like a proper runner though!! My last long run was with great company (James and Helen Potter) between Christmas and New Year. There was no snow on the ground when we set out on the lines from Broompark. On our return, the whole place looked like Narnia!
As training progressed, my pacing was actually a little faster than expected although my 5k pace was still not improving. Being honest, I was probably shying away from an all-out parkrun – I just wasn’t feeling brave enough for that test. If I failed, in my mind, the sub 2 would definitely be out of the question.
Disaster struck the first week of January – cold/flu. I felt completely wiped out. Nerves really, really set in. Of course, in retrospect, this was perfect timing – enforced tapering! Michael insisted that I would still do sub 2, in my mind, I was focussing on getting around and anything better than last year would be a win.
The cold got better just in time however on the morning of the run, I was still resigned to managing consistent 9:30 min/mile pace, still a PB after all.
Then I met up with Greta and Karen Jones (formerly of this parish). Karen had promised me that she would pace me around for sub 2 as this was not going to be a target race for them. I was aware of their pacing abilities, the first time I ever met them was mid parkrun when they told me they were pacing me for a PB because Michael had told them I was aiming for one that day!!
I got my excuses in and tried to dissuade them from accompanying but they just wouldn’t be shaken off and guided me to the 1:45 – 2:00 area near the start. The conditions were perfect, no wind, no rain or snow, no ice and a positively balmy 4c.
Brass Monkey is a flat, out and back route. Two extremely small hills on the way out that then feel like mountains on the way back! Big enough to have great facilities at the racecourse and small enough to be fun and chatty. As with many runs, the marshals are members of the local running club and extremely supportive and friendly.
The first 3 miles glided by. We were running at a nice chatty (albeit slightly breathless) pace. It felt so comfortable that Greta had to remind me to slow down a little (don’t set off too fast!!). How on earth was I running at 8:45 pace???? Target for sub 2 was 9:08….. Surely I would blow up sometime soon.
We maintained this pace up to 6 miles and I was still feeling comfortable. 10k 54:13??? Surely this had to end soon?? Miles 7-9 started feeling tougher however we still maintained the pace. Sub 2 was back on the agenda with a bang!!!
I knew that mile 10 onwards is when you truly prove your grit and this race was absolutely no different. No matter how many times you tell yourself ‘its only a parkrun’ its always the toughest part of the run. To stop getting completely defeatist and out of control, we did a couple of short walking breaks. Our pacing had been so consistent earlier that we had the time to do this and still hit target.
Mile 10 was the slowest yet at 9:13 – I love the way looking back at pacing always tells the story of the run. Mile 11 was quicker again at 8:49 but then mile 12 hit back at 9:22. I was hurting and so very tired. I desperately wanted to see Michael and the boys.
We turned a corner and could see the Racecourse – Greta kept me concentrating on how proud my boys would be of me…. I was desperately trying to keep the tears at bay.
As we came off the road and into the racecourse, there was no Littlewoods in sight – had they seriously forgotten me?? I should not have worried – just ahead a sea of purple and the most tremendous roar!!! The Strider army were there with bells on!!
With the finish line just metres ahead, Greta grabbed my hand and we sprinted across the line. I have never felt so emotional and tremendous!!
I know I surprised a few people that day, Lewis was certainly caught unawares. He thought he would see me at around 1:59:59 so he had to have quick reactions to run beside the course alongside me to see me finish at 1:55:58!!
15 minute PB.
Brass Monkey has taught me a few things this year:
I can be quicker than I think.
Just because I didn’t do the strides at the end of the long run in week 5 and 6 of the plan doesn’t mean that I can’t hit the target.
Getting up at 5:30 to enter this race is a small price to pay for such a fantastic experience: it is completely worthwhile.
I have the best running pals in the world. Runners are amongst the kindest, most altruistic people. My target for 2018 is to pay this forward
|Overall Position||Bibno.||Finish time||Chip time||Participant||Category|
THAMES HARE & HOUNDS
|(M) Open Senior|
|13||829||01.12.45||01.12.41||Stephen Jackson||(M) Open Senior|
|30||1311||01.15.05||01.15.01||Gareth Pritchard||(M) V35|
|69||975||01.18.50||01.18.44||Michael Littlewood||(M) V40|
|85||242||01.19.48||01.19.43||Chris Callan||(M) V35|
|102||40||01.21.26||01.21.19||Matthew Archer||(M) V35|
|144||1337||01.23.07||01.23.00||Phil Ray||(M) V35|
|194||759||01.25.41||01.25.25||David Hinton||(M) Open Senior|
|195||641||01.25.43||01.25.38||Mark Griffiths||(M) V40|
|265||1628||01.28.48||01.28.28||Emma Thompson||(F) V35|
|269||32||01.28.52||01.28.45||Michael Anderson||(M) Open Senior|
|433||1348||01.35.51||01.35.24||Allan Renwick||(M) V45|
|445||85||01.36.15||01.35.49||Michael Barlow||(M) V40|
|516||1121||01.38.25||01.37.57||Dan Mitchell||(M) V40|
|597||670||01.41.30||01.41.01||Jonathan Hamill||(M) V40|
|771||1848||01.47.35||01.46.48||Katy Walton||(F) V35|
|782||390||01.47.54||01.46.54||Andrew Davies||(M) V40|
|792||707||01.48.11||01.47.09||Peter Hart||(M) V40|
|800||1444||01.48.38||01.47.36||Anna Seeley||(F) V35|
|852||543||01.50.40||01.49.39||Mark Foster||(M) V35|
|936||1450||01.53.48||01.52.46||Chris Shearsmith||(M) V40|
|1016||976||01.56.46||01.55.58||Wendy Littlewood||(F) V35|
|1070||1412||01.58.17||01.57.15||Lisa Sample||(F) V35|
|1086||197||01.58.39||01.57.37||Alex Brown||(M) V45|
|1113||1500||01.59.44||01.58.42||Catherine Smith||(F) V40|
|1168||86||02.01.50||02.01.02||Stephanie Barlow||(F) V40|
|1180||1245||02.02.21||02.00.57||Joanne Patterson||(F) V35|
|1306||740||02.09.47||02.08.02||Alison Heslop||(F) V45|
|1328||862||02.11.37||02.10.02||Debbie Jones||(F) V45|
|1330||1056||02.11.42||02.10.06||Debbie Mcfarland||(F) Open Senior|
|1333||1298||02.11.56||02.10.21||James Potter||(M) V35|
|1344||511||02.12.47||02.11.01||Kirsten Fenwick||(F) V35|
|1367||212||02.16.26||02.14.41||Vicky Brown||(F) V35|
|1450||90||02.30.46||02.29.01||Kerry Barnett||(F) V45|
|1464||602||02.36.47||02.35.01||Rebecca Gilmore||(F) Open Senior|
|1481||1656||02.51.54||02.50.12||Rachel Toth||(F) V40|