Reading Half Marathon

Posted on: 04 Apr 2016

Hello everyone , here's my account of the events of yesterday. We had to rise pretty early for the drive down to Reading and i was already getting anxious about the direction we had to follow , if we would get to the car park in time etc . I am sure I drive my family mad with this and i do try but anxiety seems to follow me around . Of course this is not so good before the start of an event but I calmed down once we got close to Reading and found our car park. This part was very easy , just off the motorway and well signposted and marshalled. The organisers had thoughtfully placed a few toilets there and this meant no need to join the inevitable long queue at the venue. We walked only a few minutes to the stadium . At this point it was a little confusing as there were no signs pointing the way to the tents and stuff . We entered the stadium at first and saw the 'Green Park Challenge' which was a smaller event run mainly by children and parents. A really nice thing to do and great introduction to running events for many. I finally located the changing tents and was not impressed to see that the tent had just been placed over the cold wet gravel ! Chairs were laid out but nowhere near sufficient for those wanting to change so I stood on my bag while I got out of my trackie bottoms and changed shoes. With that done we met up briefly with my mate Simon's wife, kids and Mum. Sadly Simon had already made his way to the start and I needed to do the same. Second negative point was the instructions from the announcer . Yellow (elite) and red start runners made their way to the left and everyone else was to walk to the right. I was in the next section after Red (blue section) and according to the instructions in the event programme we were to go to the left with the elite and red runners. This made much more sense but instead we all had to walk the long way round. As a result the race was delayed as too many runners were all walking the same way and unable to get to the starting pens in time. The race was delayed for 15 minutes and in that time I was wasting more nervous energy bouncing up and down etc . I really wanted the race to start ! We finally set off and I settled into a comfortable 8.15 min mile . I have not trained at that pace in a while but felt quite ok. It wasn't long before we saw the crowds and i have to say other than the London marathon this was the best support I have ever experienced in a race , they really were superb. Of course it helped that I was wearing my novelty 'Drumstick' running vest - I had so many people cheering me on becuase of my top . I also had my name printed on the race number which was another nice touch by the organisers. By the halfway stage my pace was still steady and I wasn't too far off my best time , then we had a large hill at mile 8 . I seemed to run up it ok but I must have used too much energy and the next two miles were off the pace and i was beginning to feel the heat too as it became very warm at this stage. Again full marks to the organisers for providing water pouches , I found them easy to use and there was less waste . Some runners got confused and attempted to tear at the tops which resulted in a champagne style spray of water everywhere ! There was no let up in the crowd , there were people banging pots and pans , ringing bells , brass bands , a group of girls sat in a bus stop singing 'Don't Stop Believing' , a DJ knocked out some banging tunes and I joined in with a few moves :) It really was terrfic fun . One pub had a table with cups of beer for runners to drink but I passed on that. After the drop in pace I recovered in the last 3 miles and got speed back . I passed the 1 hour 50min pace runner and i was thinking that although I wasn't in the frame for a PB a sub 1hour 50 was on . i could hear the crowd in the stadium and as I entered I kicked on with a sprint to the finish - here's a picture Tracy took , I love it .

I crossed the line and was dismayed to see my time was 1 hour 54 minutes . Where did I go wrong and how come I passed the 1hour 50 pacer but fell outside that time ?  I gathered my thoughts and looked in the crowd for my family and friends . Simon's wife waved to me and told me Tracy and my eldest son were waiting outside by the medal collection - I had stupidly forgotten to arrange a meeting place but luckily Tracy though of that. I had a stretch and while doing this a female runner asked if she could lean on my back to do her stretches - I said ok but I don't know why she didn't want to use the barriers ?! I had my finishers picture taken and then left the stadium to collect the medal and bag etc. The bag didn't have much in it but we did get a shirt and drink bottle. I saw Tracy and we made our way back into the stadium to meet up with Simon's family. We watched and cheered the runners cross the line while waiting for Simon. A big cheer went up for the Camel , Darth Vader and a guy pushing someone in a wheelchair - that guy deserved two medals ! this is another thumbs up for Reading . In so many events we finish , collect our goodies and go , but here many returned to the stadium and cheered people on , it really was a great atmosphere. Simon finally came in and we made our way outside to meet him. Tracy had to give me a bit of a talking too because I was still upsetting myself over my finish time . I was really glad to see Simon and see that he finished ok.

We said our goodbyes and headed off for the car. I had been on my feet for a while but still felt fine and it suddenly dawned on me that this wasn't the end of the world , I had run a consistent pace for 13.2 miles and I wasn't knackered or out of breath when I crossed the line . Looking back at the stats I lost it on the 2 hills and I have a lack of speed but my stamina is good and I could have run on no problem . I learned a lot from Reading and my build up to it , my stamina training through the winter has been good , I need to run up more hills and i need to inject some speed. I had a look back at my training log for 2014 when I got my PB at Oxford and March 2015 when I beat it at Silverstone and it was staring me in the face - I was running 5 times a week with a 4 day week every 3rd week , and I was running a speed session per week. I am nowhere near that at the moment but this is all positive and I know I haven't just fallen off the cliff !! The other good point that I forgot to mention is that my left leg pain was gone in the first mile and it hasn't returned. Not sure what is going on there either.  To sum up I love this event and I will be running it next year , the result has made me look at my training and show me the good and bad points and what to do next , and I love my medal and shirt even though I didn't want to look at them on the day !

Next up is the London 10000 and then my sights are set on the nice flat Mablethorpe half marathon. Here we go :)

Finally thank you to everyone who gave me good luck wishes on here and elsewhere , I really appreciate it.

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