As part of my marathon buildup I had been looking to get signed up for a half marathon about 4-6 weeks out from race day. For a number of reasons I was not quite able to find one on the perfect date and in hindsight with all the cancellations due to snowfall, I was quite lucky not to find myself in an unfortunate position of my race schedule being disrupted.
In the end I signed up for Yeovil Half Marathon on March 25th, only 2 weeks before I toe the line at Manchester marathon. Rather to close for me to go chasing a personal best, but close enough for me to tie it in with my last 20 mile long run. It is also near where Dani’s mum lives so we could get a free bed for the night and didn’t have to stress out to much on the day.
I originally planned to run from Sherborne over to Yeovil for the race but with the clocks going forward ( a real pain) and it being 8 miles across, I decided against the super early rise to do this. Instead I opted to get there for 8am, an hour before the start and try to get a 45 minute run in before the start.
I didn’t really have much of a route for this planned and just started running. After a couple of miles I reached a natural turning point and retraced my steps. As I returned near the start I still had plenty of time before the race so I went off winding around some roads near by to keep moving and also keep the miles up. With about 8 minutes to go, I decided to go to the start pen and be ready for the start. Overall, this running before a race thing is a bit weird but I would have struggled if I had to keep running after crossing the finish line.
Onto the event itself. I generally enjoyed the race. It starts in the high street, at 9am but there were still good crowds to cheer us all off. They even organised some pacers for different times and they seemed to have good knowledge of how to pace the slightly hilly course. I went over to introduce myself to the 90 minute pacer as I planned to stay at that consistent pace as best I could. They had also put on a little warm up for those that want to follow it. Not my cup of tea as I like to stick to what I know but I’m sure many people would join in.
Soon we were off and running down a slight hill before looping back up to go through the crowds that were still in the high street. As we went through, there was a brass band playing. I really enjoy hearing brass bands playing something you might not expect them to. I can’t remember what they played but it brought a smile to my face. From there we went out of the town and onto some country paths to reach the first water station at mile 3. I missed it because I was on the left and the water was on the right. Result of being in a pacers group and not preparing for it.
After sometime we went onto a really quiet section of the race with little support but as a training run it was good to just keep my head down and focus on pace. Once we got through that it was on to some hilly sections as we went out to Montacute house. We climbed a hill to reach it, climbed a hill to get out of it and then reached our first proper down hill. I wasn’t sure how long it would last, or what was to come next. Luckily I didn’t push too hard as round the bend was another incline. Then a decline. Then an incline. Then a decline. Then a really long steady incline. A really nice challenge but if you had gone off to fast you would be feeling it here.
At the end of the hills we headed back for town and I was still with the pacer group which was smaller now and on target time wise. We moved through some housing areas (where there were good crowds) and this meant we were asked to run on pavements. These pavements had many drop curbs so when I could I would hop onto the road because the up and down of the pavements really get to my knees. I felt my legs opening up and enjoying the flatter route after the hills and I managed to maintain this into the high street finish.
The brass band were still on the course but as I got there they were in between songs. A shame but didn’t affect my running. The home straight comes after a right hand turn. I really enjoy a finish straight that you don’t see until you turn a bend and can see a finish line not too far away as it gives you a massive boost but enough to carry you to the line. If you see the finish too early it can be demoralising. As I turned the bend I spotted the line, then spotted Dani and may have picked up my pace for a strong finish. That was mostly because the clock was ticking towards 90 minutes.
Ultimately I didn’t get a PB but today was not about that, it was about a final long run and feeling good with the pacing and following a pacer. If you’re looking for a build up Half, I would definitely recommend it.