It’s been a pretty rubbish few weeks in terms of running. Firstly I’ve had the ongoing problems with knee as discussed last time, secondly I managed to become ill with what I intially thought was gastroenteritis. A week off work, and 10 days off running (including missing a 15 mile long run), as I was unable to keep anything in, losing about 2.5kgs in weight. The test results eventually came back from the doctors and I actually had contracted campylobacter, probably from some undercooked duck I’d had at a work meal out. A quick dose of antibiotics later and I began to feel massively better.
A few easy runs to build up my strength again, and ease me back in, then it was time for Surrey Half Marathon. Now in it’s 3rd year, the race originally started in Guildford, looping up towards Woking then back to finish on the track at the Spectrum. Last year they switched the start to Woking Leisure Centre, heading out towards Sutton Green, Jacobs Well, before looping back to Woking. A much flatter, faster course; last year I came in at around 1:31, and realised for the first time I could probably run sub 90 for a half (which I managed later in the year at Richmond).
No such aspirations this year, even before my enforced layoff. The plan was to run at a minimum of planned marathon pace (7:27min/mile) but ideally within 7:15 min/mile pace. A week ago I wasn’t sure I’d even make the starting line up, but a couple of good runs in the week (following the completion of the antibiotics) had given me a bit more hope.
A chilly, but dry start to the day; perfect running conditions and after a few good lucks to friends and family also running, I set off. As per usual my starting pace was too high as I ran alongside the 1:30 pace group. I adjusted slightly and let them drift into the distance but was still aware I was running too fast. I went though the 5k mark at 21:50 and the 10k at 43:19 an average pace of 6:56min/mile. Despite a quick energy gel at 7 miles, I began to pay for the early enthusiasm, as my pace notably dropped around the 8 mile mark. My legs, particularly the thigh muscles were heavily complaining and I felt every small inclination in the road.
Normally this is when I would start to panic, however I knew I was well within my target pace, and allowed myself to slow. The experience of running previous half marathons, and indeed Surrey before all came into play, as I knew what was needed and how the route planned out. It’s a nice fast finish to the route coming back into Woking up Westfield Avenue towards the finish, and I took advantage, dropping a few of the runners that had kept me company for the previous few miles. Final finish time was just over 1:34, 4 mins slower than my PB, but with an average pace of 7:10min/mile well within my target.
Notice the difference between my average pace for the first 10k, then to the finish…..
I like the Surrey Half. Its a bit expensive to enter but its a fairly flat, fast course. The organisation is pretty good, although the kids races are a bit shambolic, but hopefully they’ll learn from this year and make the necessary adjustments for next year. The road closures mean thats its well supported; and being local its always nice to see friendly faces both running and cheering you on. It’s also given me a glimmer of hope for Brighton.