The Meanderings of a Mammal

Half Marathon Lessons


So I ran the Clarendon Half Marathon on the 5th October, and finished inside my goal of 2:15, landing at 2:07:57. I was happy enough with the time but believe I should have been able to do better on the day. I’ve now got a solid base to go on from and its shown me that I do enjoy trails.

I covered my preparation in my previous post, but my mileage hadn’t been on goal for several weeks. Getting that issue fixed will help.

Before the race I booked in and got my number, then walked back to the car. Parking was on one side of the village, the start line on the other, something I hadn’t anticipated. So that meant nearly three miles of warm up walking, prior to some quiet reflection and stretching before the off.

There were about 300 entrants, with a dozen or so walkers starting 45 minutes earlier. By the time we started a fair number of marathon runners had come through, so were playing catch up from there. Lots of people wearing tees from previous events and lots of solid experience on display. I’m sure I wasn’t the only neophyte, but it felt like it.

And off. Frustratingly slow at first, as a mass of runners followed a narrow, hedge bound road. Taking opportunities to get some space. It all felt very polite and civilised, many gestures to allow others through while the field opened up, and the terrain did the same. Off the road at the end of the first mile and into cornfields.

The first half of the race holds the majority of the elevation, in three steady climbs. So hard work, with discretion becoming the better part and a couple of walk periods on the steepest sections. I wasn’t alone in that.

We ranged from open field and farm track to roads through villages and narrow paths through woods that meant stepping off the path to allow people past. I gained a few places on there, lost a few on the downhill roads where my shoes showed their weakness.

The latter half was mainly wooded, and by then the field was wide. I had no perception of where I was in the pack, but knew that on balance I was gaining more places than I was losing, and was broadly on plan at around a 6 minute kilometre.

The route was heavily marshalled, and well supported, with plenty signage. Water points every 3-4km were well supplied, although I was carrying my own gels and water. As many “thank you”s as I could muster throughout what didn’t feel like over two hours.

Passing the two mile out point was the hardest part. By then my final 5k motivation was wearing thin. Whilst 5k is a nice, gentle, stretching session on a Monday evening, I don’t normally warm up for ten miles first. I was flagging, and the prospect of 20 more minutes felt hard. But by this time the support was almost continuous, and that kept me moving. I could hear the finish line from 1 mile out, and managed to dig a little deeper, picking up my pace.

By this time a niggling pain in my right knee was becoming a frustration. It hadn’t been enough to stop, but now it was becoming a focus of attention. So I tried to find my centre, breath and keep moving. Each target got closer, it stopped being to pass someone, merely gain on them.

Crossing the line was a relief. Slowing to a walk, being handed the medal, and grabbing some sustenance. Then the pain of stretching out tired muscles, and discovering that, having stopped, my knee could barely flex. Dreaded IT Band Syndrome. Not enough preparation affected more than my finish time.

Hard work, worthwhile and full of lessons.

I’ve already identified the next one. 13.1 ish miles on the hills of Dorset. Here’s hoping for further success.



So the miles are in, all the training is complete. The final taper is done and it’s the day before the race.

Training hasn’t gone as well as I’d hoped. Some time with reduced mileage due to feeling a bit off colour has left me without the level of preparedness I’d wanted. Despite that I know I can complete the distance; half marathon. I’ve done it before.

So the objectives are twofold. Complete the race, under 2:15. I’d intended to go for less than 2 hours, ideally 1:50, but six weeks of reduced mileage makes that untenable.

Heavy rain today, with a dry and mild day forecast for the morrow. That should mean a softer surface, one would hope.

So the kit includes, trail shoes, fuel belt and shades. I’ll take two 500 ml bottles and aim for three gels, at half hour intervals. Breakfast of porridge, banana and coffee will fuel the run. Garmin is charged ready to record the evidence.

Exciting stuff


Also, this ‘45 stuff is ridiculous. The referendum is over. You lost. You’re not tragic Jacobite heroes. Let it go. Get on with your lives.

If the events in Glasgow show anything it’s that Scotland has a hell of a lot of serious problems that need to be solved. You know what will help? Taking that passion that Scotland can be a better place and using it to transform our society. You know what won’t? Dragging your heels and moping and muttering about conspiracy theories. One Nation, moving forward.


(via creatory)