So I have heard a number of people before talk about the benefits of using races as part of the long run aspect of training. With this in mind I’ve looked around to see what is out there for me to use and one of the first ones I found was the Gloucester half. Although it came a bit earlier in my training plan it actually matched up with the planned mileage for that week so I was happy to sign up.
It was an event where you picked up the number on the morning and at the same time as the half marathon they were also doing a full marathon and a 50k race so there was a real good buzz about the collection room. The course for the half marathon was a weird sort of figure of 8 2 lap route which wasn’t actually too bad in the end but I’m not sure how the 4 lap marathon would have been.
Prior to the race I couldn’t decide on a strategy for pacing. I finally settled with not aiming for a PB and treating it like a steady training run. Maybe coming in at just under 1:34 but mostly running by feel and keeping it steady.
As I made my way the start pen, I found myself right at the front, partly because nobody else was pushing forwards and also because I could still see Dani waiting on the side. We had a chuckle about how silly it was for me to be there. I agreed but the road ahead was clearly wide enough for overtaking if it was needed.
As we set off, there was clearly a group of faster runners which I knew I would have to let go and not get carried away. I soon found myself in a little group with 2 other runners after the first mile and the pace they were running felt comfortable so I tried to stick with them. My watch was ticking away but I didn’t look in at every split as I was feeling just right but after the first one I did see it was ridiculously quick.
I stayed with this group and we were soon joined by another runner too. As we completed the first lap we joined back in with some of the marathon runners and also some traffic. Some of the drivers were not the most helpful and one of our group ended up getting stuck by a car and slower runner but I managed to dodge and maintain my pace. After this I was left with one other runner and we were going at what felt like a steady pace. Unfortunately he ended up pulling over but not sure why. With me going solo for the last 5 k I knew it was going to be tough. But as I was feeling okay I decided to try and open up my legs, particularly because there was a downhill. I was feeling good but it was definitely the harder part of the race.
As I approached the finish line I saw the clock and pushed a little bit harder thinking it would be close to under 1:30 so I was really surprised to see the time on my watch hit 1:27:38. A little bit naughty to run such a PB when it is so early in the training plan but I will definitely take it and it also gives me a confidence boost going into the rest of training.