Last week was good week for training, if a little light on miles. A quicker 6 miles on Tuesday, averaging 7.46 minute mile pace, was a good confidence booster for the Brass Monkey half marathon on Sunday. The week totalled 24.7 miles – I had to resist the urge to go out and run 0.3 of a mile to bring it up to 25!
Brass Monkey Half Marathon:
As you may recall from a previous post: Training starts here! My goal for the Brass Monkey half wasn’t to PB but to use it as a gauge as to where my fitness is currently at. My previous half marathon PB was 1.46.46, set at Wilmslow half in April 2015, however my most recent half marathon race time, Warrington Sept 2015, was quite a bit slower at 1.48. The aim was to try to come in under 1.47.59.
When the snow started on Saturday afternoon I began to worry about the race, which is known for being quite icy. I was concerned about what the conditions might be like, I started to prepare myself for a slower time and a more difficult race.
The snow had stopped overnight but we still had a few inches on the ground on the morning of the race. Now it was littered with abandoned snowman, sledge tracks and used snowballs. York however had somehow missed out on the snow, and with the race organisers promises of private gritters things were starting to look up!
There were quite a few of us from St. Theresa’s A.C , running and supporting. The race started and finished at York race course so we all gathered in the warmth of the Ebor stand before the start, chatting and taking photos with the monkey!
It was freezing, just into the minus’ but personally the conditions were perfect, I much prefer a cold winter race to sweating it out in the summer. I jogged down to the start with Jim but couldn’t see any fellow STACs at the start so I slipped in behind the 1.45 sign.
The first 6 miles of the race I found myself with a group of runners, they were running slightly quicker than my target pace but I stuck with them for the first half. I normally like to be out on my own at a race, controlling my own pace however was nice to be in a pack for a change and let someone else do the pacing!
At six miles the dynamic of the group changed and the pace was pushed a little faster. My minute miles were starting to slip a few seconds slower per mile, I cant have been the only one struggling to push on as group started to spread out and disperse.
At 8 miles I was out on my own wishing I had managed to stick with the silent but reassuring company of the group. I was starting to worry that I had gone out too fast and that my pace was going to end up slowing, when one of the marshals shouted something that really resonated, he said that now was the time to push on, and this is the part of the race where PBs are made.
That was the point when I really started thinking about what my quicker first few miles meant and what I would need to do to get a new PB. I somehow manage to keep going at a consistent 8 min mile pace.
At 10 miles I was still feeling relatively strong, I passed the 10 mile marker in 1 hour 19 and 15 seconds, I did the maths and to get a PB, I just needed to run the last 3.1 miles at 8.40 minute miles, I could slow 40 seconds per mile if I needed to and still make it. I just needed to hang on in.
Just before the 12 mile marker we had to get up the hill, it wasn’t that bad of an incline in comparison to some of the hills I run in training but it was enough to need to grit my teeth and dig in. I fell into pace alongside a runner from Wetherby and we ran last mile and a half together, pushing each other on and somehow managing to pound out a slightly quicker mile.
As we turned to run the last 400m I knew unless something disastrous happened and I fell over or similar I had my PB in the bag. I relaxed a little and my pace dropped off slightly, moments later after turning the corner onto the finishing straight, I could feel two runners coming up beside me, one on either side, then I spotted the club vest… NOT A CHANCE! Now two strides ahead of me were Malcolm and Tony, I had no idea I was being followed so closely (hunted down more like!) My competitiveness kicked in and I sprinted as hard as I could for the finish not knowing whether they had picked up the pace and followed me, in hindsight it was a silly idea.
Seconds after crossing the finish line I felt sicker than I’ve ever felt before, I didn’t know what to do with myself! Luckily Tony, Mal and Andy were there to make sure I was ok!
I’d done it, 1.44.12 over 2 minutes off my previous personal best! I wasn’t expecting to be able to PB at any distance this early on. I’m feeling a lot happier and more confident in my training. I think I might have by mojo back! It’s about time things started to pick up after the disappointing second half of 2015!