Reading Half Marathon

Posted on: 20 Mar 2017

Hello everyone , thanks for the good wishes before yesterdays run .

So to start from the beginning , a very early start for us all as it is a fair hike to Reading and I am very thankful to my partner and the boys for putting up with my fretting over the journey . I like to get to the venue nice and early so that I can chill out for a while knowing I have plenty of time to sort myself out before getting to the start line. As it happened when we arrived the car park was half empty . The runners in the ' Green Park challenge ' were making their way to the stadium and we spent a while just listening to the radio , while the kids played on their devices ( what's new ! ) . There was a block of portaloos in the carpark and it was a relief to be able to use them without queing , another advantage of getting there early. We made our way to the stadium around 9 am and we passed many smiling kids and parents wearing their newly earned medals from their 3k race . This really added to the buzzing atmosphere around the stadium . We also witnessed a lot of fancy dress runners making their way to the race village including an impressive group of Mario Kart characters with karts attached , not one but TWO Jamaican bobsleds and a giant Pokemon ! 

Whilst in the race village we bumped into some friends of ours . Simon had entered the race some time ago after running at Reading the past 4 years but sadly he wasn't able to run this time , but he did come to support Paul who was using this as a training run before the London marathon. I walked with Paul to the start line and we had a good chat which I think helped calmed the nerves for us both. We shook hands and wished each other luck at the Gold pen as I was a bit further towards the front in the Blue section. When i arrived the pen was already quite full and I followed a small group who weaved their way a bit further forwards where I hoped the runners expecting a 1:45 time would be. 

For the first 2 miles everything went to plan but I was surprised that the first hill appeared quite early at the start of  mile 3 , as Simon believed the course was going to be altered to avoid this . I was keeping the pace under 8 mins per mile but knew I had to do a bit more. I dropped off a little at the hill but made up time on the downhill sections . Once again the crowd really superb and it is one of the reasons I enjoyed Reading so much last time . All around the route there were bands playing , people with tins of various goodies , drinks , bananas you name it . It was also a nice touch to put our names on the running numbers . I was wearing my novelty 'Drumstick ' running vest . It is quite eye catching and I lost count of the number of people who called out ' ooh look drumstick ' etc , especially the kids watching . It really was nice to see their smiling faces when they saw their favourite sweet racing past , they would shout out ' I love drumsticks ' and stuff like that ha ha :) .

I passed Mick and Phil and gave them a cheer , and around mile 6 the next hill appeared . I made my best effort up this and then the wind took hold for the first time . I am not that heavy and had to get myself behind a few runners for a short spell , a good tactic and soon we were in the main town stretch where the support was especially noisy . I wasn't very happy with my GPS watch and it's ability to keep up with my pace , it was very erratic and looking at the stats on Movescount my pace really was an irregular pattern . I put this in part down to the amount of dodging the other runners , the wind and the many turns in the circuit. I normally train along a very flat canal towpath in an almost straight line so probably not the best preparation for this kind of race . Between miles 8 and 10 something went wrong because my pace dropped off and this was the point when my PB attempt fell away . I remember a couple of short inclines that I took slowly trying to save energy but I don't know how I managed to slow enough to lose about 90 seconds in those 2 miles . On the drag up to the stadium I was able to close the gap but I think I just left myself too much to do . This last section is very open and the wind made it hard going but I was pleased that I was able to keep going and slowly continue to pass people all the way towards the stadium . I got round the corner and headed for the line knowing i had just missed my target . For about 4 or 5 minutes I was cross with myself , quite gutted that I had been so close . I did my stretches and felt quite out of place , why is it so very few people bother to stretch at the end of these events ? Surely after a hard effort this is THE time to stretch and prevent problems later on . I took one last look at the crowd and the finish line and made my way out to fetch my bag and medal . The volunteers were really nice and they deserve a huge pat on the back for giving up their time and making the event what it is. 

We had arranged to meet at the mizuno tent in the race village and Billy come running towards me and gave me a big hug follwed by my older son Jack . By this point I had already told myself that I should be happy about my days work . I had nothing left in the last mile , no kick which is unusual for me , but I gave it everything . By the time we reached the car I received a text confirming a finish time of 1:46:55 . 72 seconds from a PB . and you know what , I am delighted because that is the fastest half marathon I have run in 2 years . Even better than that is the fact that I now realise I am still in the hunt for a PB at this distance and that I haven't reached my peak . I have had a think about my training and the race preparation. The plan was a good one but I have worked out 3 or 4 things I could do better next time . All I have to do now is implement them . 

So there you go , my account of yesterday . I loved it and despite saying that I wouldn't travel so far to race again I think I will sign up again because I did have a great time . And that's what it is all about isn't it ?

Take care 


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