I know I’ve been a bit quiet about *the running* since the marathon last October. So it’s time for a check in with yet more words of a pootling badger’s introspection and observations after my latest race, the Bath Half marathon.
I have run this race for the last 5 years now, it was my first ever half marathon and what started me on this ‘ I quite like running longer distances’ lark. I’ve counted my medals and I seem to have run 9 half marathons now! Wow, how did that happen?!?
I have begun to love the Bath Half route. Not only for the fondness I have of my home race (so convenient!! And so many friends out along the route and in the race!) but I have begun to enjoy its two laps, it is now a known quantity- I know what comes after the undulations, that I can tell myself, ‘just get past this small up and then there’s a downslope to recover’. I know where the challenges are and where to assign the *emergency tunes* on my playlist. I love the drums at Queens Square, the student houses along the route pumping out their own pumping tunes through wide open windows or speakers brought out into front gardens. The wild crazy crowd cheering by Sainsburys. The awesome start – downhill for the first mile when all you can see before you is a wide regency tree-lined road filled with runners and the sound of a million footfall. And the final straight along the grandeur & cheering crowds in Great Pulteney Street. Yes, this is my home run.
To say that my training didn’t quite fire on all cylinders this year is the truth of the matter. I had wanted ( after last year’s glory) to shave another few minutes off my pb, but various factors affected my training which I won’t dwell on as they will sound like excuses which I could have overcome had I thought it was important enough. (Clearly I didn’t!!) So when I realised that my running form was not that of a pb I knew I needed to review my race goal. I decided that I would be happy to get around it with enjoyment and not to push myself to the point of holding back kerbside vomiting.
As larger races tend to group people to start according to their estimated finish time, I started in a faster start pen this time (not to be confused with the superfast starters mind you!) as I was aiming higher after last year’s pb. It felt great to be closer to the start, to better hear the pre race build up. It also felt less crowded, more space all through the race. Despite not quite hitting my original target time, I was pleased to see that I was still running and finishing with plenty of other green numbers – so I didn’t disgrace my promotion with my slower than planned time.
A great thing about this race is that you can wear one earpiece and listen to music- it makes such a difference. My playlist contains loads of happy or big songs that are uplifting to remind me that I’m supposed to be enjoying it! As I slightly updated my playlist this year, I wondered how many other runners’ playlists included Pharrell Williams – Happy (have some! it’s the ultimate feel good song!)
and Daft Punk- Get Lucky. (I’ve even been hearing “Get Lucky” on the ski slopes, belting out of snowboarders’ backpacks!)
So I didn’t get my pb, I didn’t feel I ran with the grace of a gazelle, but yes, for most of the race I can say I enjoyed it: I ran around without too much discomfort or mental torture. The crowds who supported all along the route were incredible, especially considering this was great weather for running in, but it was not great to stand around cheering people on- grey drizzle in the most part. As my friend said who was there cheering like a loon both times I went past, ‘ You’ve just got to do it’ on being a supporter and standing for hours in the cold & wet. She did confide in me that she is likely to be tempted to put herself through it again on the other side of the barriers next year as a runner, which frankly is awesome as she doesn’t seem to escape injury when she runs the Half.
I was lucky enough to benefit from Melissa‘s VIP entry which allowed her to take two guests with her for pre race food and drink, post race hot food, plus bag check, parking, showers, real loos….well worth it I’d say. (Read Melissa’s race review here - now she did get a pb!)
Here we are the night before! It was so great to meet my sewing & running hero in real life!
(Yes that is a foam roller behind us!)
And here we are pre-race.
We are both wearing an item of Melissa’s Fehr Trade running clothes: Me – my leopard xyt top (you can’t see it underneath, sadly) & Melissa, her Rainbow PB Jam leggings. I’m also wearing a top made using Maria Denmark’s Olivia tee pattern. My leggings are Sweaty Betty & never have I seen anyone else wearing them until I was in the medal queue at the end, & there were two of us wearing bright floral legs. Funny that.) And of course, running bows.
So, remembering that I am continually challenged by running, not being a natural, this year’s personal lessons:
- If you’re the kind of person that does enjoy running, when your training loses the fun, have a look at why and see how important this is to you and whether you need to change anything.
- It’s ok to change your race goal when you realise that your training hasn’t gone to plan.
- Race goals don’t have to be about your finish time.
- Yes it is possible to eat too much cheese on a ski holiday and to still feel as if you are carrying it around with you weeks after.
- And an obvious one – Just because you like running in the rain, it doesn’t mean that only having rain to train in is fun.
- I like the Bath Half route. I’ve had a love-hate relationship with it but finally I can say that after 5 times I have warmed to it. I expect I shall be running next year – although I wish it was slightly later in March – it feels so close to Christmas in terms of training.
SO looking ahead…I shall be aiming to train better over the summer for the Great North Run. I shall put the right kind of effort in to run better & stronger. I shall include hills & speedwork in my training (even though I don’t like it!) Because surely even a crappy summer is going to be more pleasant to train in than the wet dark & grey winter we’ve been stuck with this year? And for me, running is all about being outdoors.