The Surrey half 2017 is my 5th half marathon and still the pre race nerves abound. Arriving at 8.15 in time to see the 5k race finishing the event had much going on with a band and the usual race stalls. It was my first closed road event with a field of almost 4000 and the customary 5 trips to the toilet and a long bag drop queue were all part of the pre race prep.
Time flew and it was suddenly 5 minutes to race time. My brother had made the sensible choice to jump the gate at the 1hour 45 pacers. I tagged on to the back hoping to push my way through but couldn’t get beyond the 2 hour pacers. A range of pacers were available from 1h30 to 2h30, a helpful addition for those hoping to PB. Suddenly we were off and 3 minutes later I was over the start line and away slicing through swathes of other runners holding my hands up apologetically as I tried to find a clearer space in which to set a pace.
2 minutes in and the rain came down hard, I made use of my free headband that came with the Surrey half pack, the deluge actually made it much easier to run as it kept us all cool. The opening few miles were flat with gentle undulations, having to overtake other runners meant I didn’t concentrate on my pace and a brief look at my watch showed sub 7minute miles, too fast. The crowd were in good spirits and the water station volunteers were a friendly bunch calling us all by names. It’s surprising how much energy that can give someone when they are running at their lactate threshold!
At 10k I had battled through 1400 other runners, passing the 1.50 and 1.40 pacers. It’s a great section of the race between 5 and 7 miles. The running is flat and the route turns back on itself with many spectators choosing this point giving a great atmosphere. Another water station at mile 7 and I see my brother with the 1h50 pacers on the other side. We high 5 and I’m buoyed with more energy. My pace has dropped to 7.05 but I’m still feeling good, the second half feels slightly hillier although it can often be tired legs, I run past one of my friends give him a pat on the back and get my head down. I’m aiming for 7 minute miles.
Mile 10 lasts an eternity, I give myself a repetitive strain injury checking my watch so often and a gent I’m about to overtake goes over on his ankle into a pothole and starts hobbling, I slow to offer him help but he pulls up and sits on the verge, his race over and I felt for him. At this point the crowd picks up and we are on the home straight. Everyone now running on adrenaline seems to pick up the pace and I’m carried on the wave of the competitive spirit. 400m to go and a guy behind makes a sprint for the finish, determined to not let him pass on pain of death I make a mad dash for the finish to record an average 7.03 pace and a PB of 1.32.39.
Happy to have gotten a PB but deep down bemoaning my lack of preparation, training and current weight at why I can’t push any further. A thermal sheet, banana, flapjack and large gold medal await the finishers and a busy race village with massage area all sorts of running goodies to buy. I head home with mixed emotions, wishing I had pushed my training that little bit further. Hopefully next time…