Will Thames

swim, bike, run, tech

Royal Parks Half Marathon 2010

My first race was the first Royal Parks Half Marathon in 2008, where I was very pleased going under 2 hours, finishing in 1:55. Since then I’ve done a lot more running, including my first marathon at the tail end of Ironman Switzerland.

However, the last few weeks haven’t been entirely confidence-inducing - I’ve had some calf issues that have disrupted my training such that most of my shorter runs haven’t been pain-free (interestingly some of my longer runs I have managed to push through the muscle pain). Last week had been pretty reasonable with an excellent (but not very fast) intervals session and tempo run.

Given that most of my leg pain has been after setting off too fast, my plan for the race was to start slow and finish fast, warming up during the race. I did participate in the British Military Fitness warmup, after which I felt tired before the race even started!

A former colleague, Andy, was also doing the race, and we had very similar goals, hoping to get 1:45, so our plan was to run the race together as much as possible.

At 09:30, the race started, and about three minutes after, we crossed the start line. Andy and I ran a fairly solid pace, staying around the 5:00/km pace for the first few kms, a bit faster than planned. However, I felt good and the pace felt easy enough that I wouldn’t blow up. We avoided other runners, and didn’t bother with water stops, heading through Parliament Square, over Westminster Bridge and back, and then along the Embankment. Our pace headed as low as 4:45/km at times, but it was never particularly uncomfortable.

At around the 8km mark, Andy wasn’t feeling too good so dropped back, and I just pushed on, aiming to maintain a good speed. I kept a good eye out for Peta as I entered the park around the 10km mark, but she spotted me. I also saw her a bit later, probably around the 15km mark as I went past the lake again, so early enough not to be looking too shocking!

I didn’t really feel much need for water in this race - I took some twice in the second half, mainly to wash down my shot bloks and pour over my head for cooling. Temperature wise it was fairly comfortable, much cooler than 2008.

At around kilometre 18, I really just had to dig in and push on. However, in spite of how hard I thought I’d been working, kilometre 20 was the fastest of the lot, as I did 4:40 just before the finish line.

In terms of perceived exertion, on a 10 point scale the first half was around 5, and it went up to around 9.5 in the final km, even the sprint across the line didn’t feel like I’d hit 10.

I was very happy with 01:42, but I know that I have the potential to do better; just as with my last Royal Parks race, had I had less traffic, I could have gone faster. My negative split (my last ten km were two minutes faster than my first ten km) was a bit too extreme. However, it was good to feel confident about my pace early on and not blow up.

This was the most enjoyable run I’ve had in weeks, I was pleased my calves didn’t stiffen up and I ran without any significant pain, although there was some suffering towards the end. My confidence is skyhigh at the moment, and I plan to use that confidence to set some proper goals for the next year. But that’s another post.