Surrey Half (and more..) – 08/03/2015

After last weekend’s minor speed bump, I’d had some harsh words with myself and decided that I was slightly overdoing it. I was running most Saturday parkruns pretty hard, and as a consequence not giving my body enough time to recover, especially when a long run has been on the agenda on Sundays recently. So in the last few weeks before Brighton/London, I told myself I would make sure my easy sessions were really easy and my hard ones really hard.

After this reflection, I’m not quite sure how I convinced myself doing 3 races in 2 days over the weekend was in any way a good idea. I think the thought process was ‘well, I won’t actually race any of them, just use it all as good training miles’. However, we all know how that normally turns out.

Saturday morning dawned and as Katie was planning to run 21 miles that morning, we got up early so she could have some breakfast and squeeze a few extra miles in before parkrun. Being the heroic boyfriend that I am, I decided I would accompany her for the 3 hour run on my bike (although I’d be jumping off to run parkrun, obviously). 6 uneventful miles passed and we found ourselves on the start-line at Brockwell Park.

So, armed with my new plan of not running too hard and getting caught up in a race with someone, I bumped into a mate I used to work with, and since he’d been out injured for a while, we decided to run a fairly relaxed 21 minutes. And I nearly executed that plan.

We ran the first 4 kilometres together at bang on 21 minute pace, having a nice chat, and everything was all going so well. But, and at this point (and I blame Phil), he told me that if I was feeling good I should crack on. Oh dear. Suddenly I decided it would be a good idea to go past the person ahead of me. And then the person after that. And suddenly I was running flat out. Doh.

I ended up running myself into 19th place with a time of 20.13. I told myself next week I would be better – I’ll probably have to be considering I’ll be in the middle of a 20+ mile run and won’t be able to up the pace.. Phil on the other hand, stuck to the plan, and ran a 20.52, exactly what I should have done.

It was back and the bike and off we set around the streets of London – Katie had another 11 or so miles to run. Conversation was flowing nicely until the last 2 or 3 miles when things started to get tough – 21 miles is a bloody long way after all. She only managed to get angry at me once, which I think was a result all things considering! (And to be fair, it was probably my fault for not telling her which way to go). She got through the miles at a really decent pace and the training times are showing that she’s got a really good shot at going under 4 hours in Brighton.

We got home in time for a spot of lunch, before we were off again for the second race of the day (I’m not overdoing it, honestly). It was the last cross country of the season, the Ellis Trophy, run in Richmond park. The course was 3.8 miles of undulating cross country terrain, although we’d had some fairly decent weather recently so the ground was pretty hard and there was hardly any mud.

We jumped on the train and arrived at the Ranelagh Harries club house (they were the club organising the race) and I got registered and stuck my number on my club vest. It was a bit of a walk to the start as we made our way into the park, and we had to head up a huge hill. Thankfully, I was reassured by a local that it wouldn’t be part of the course.

It was a pretty poor turn out from Serpentine, with only 5 of us making it to the race. Normally at an event like this we’d have about 25 – I think a number of club members were at the annual training camp in Lanzarote (it’s alright for some). The race itself was pretty uneventful. I probably ran at about 80% effort – enough to get the heart rate going up some of the hills, but I didn’t complete trash my legs which I guess means I kind of executed my plan? I finished 26th out of the 113 finishers.

We hung around in the park for a bit, checking out a bit of the local wildlife – the park in home to numerous herds of deer, before heading back to rest up before the early morning start…

Sunday

Another Sunday morning, another ridiculously early alarm call (5.30am). I had the Surrey Half marathon this morning. Due to the fact that the trains didn’t start early enough in the morning to get there in time, I had to share a lift with a complete stranger I met on a car sharing website. It was with slight trepidation that I waited at the agreed pick-up point in Fulham. Luckily, the guy turned out not to be a mass murderer and actually a fairly nice chap.

The drive took around 45 minutes from South-West London and we arrived early enough to be able to park down a local side street around a 5 minute walk from the start finish area. I wasn’t racing at all today – I’d signed up to be one of the official race pacers. This involved sticking a huge flag on my back with my finishing time on (1 hour 50 minutes), and ensuring I ran around the course in exactly that time at even pace throughout.

pacer2

Most larger races have these pacemakers, the idea being that those taking part looking for a personal best time can follow them and help achieve this. Armed with my flag on my back, I made my way into the starting pens and was immediately inundated with questions about all things running – everyone assumed I must be an expert. After trying my best to blag the answers to most of the questions coming my way, it was time to line up for the starting gun.

The route around the surrounding villages of Woking is a really nice one. There were a few minor hills, but certainly nothing to write home about. Considering we were out in the countryside for a fair portion of the run, there were tons of people out supporting on the road.

The pace was very manageable for me (having run a 1.23 half recently, I was confident I could get round in 1.50), so I just enjoyed being out there having a chat with some of the other runners around me. It was a completely different experience, and one that I thoroughly enjoyed. Instead of running for yourself, you were there to help others achieve their goals, and the number of people that came up to me afterwards thanking me was fantastic.

Overall, the race is a good one – albeit slightly overpriced. As a pacemaker I didn’t have to pay for entry, but I think if I did it would have cost £40 – and for that you get a medal, a ‘buff’ and that’s about it. Not great value. As for my finishing time – 1.49.46, close enough I’d say. Race wise, that’s it until Brighton and London! There’s still a lot of running to be done between now and then though, with some key long run sessions coming up in the next few weekends.

pacer

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