Sunday, 31 January 2010

Day 272 - a swift half

Type - Steady run

Distance - 13.1 miles (half marathon)

Time - 1 hour 41 minutes and 57 seconds

It was a little daunting to set out on this morning's run to know that you were going to finish a half-marathon. I suppose it shouldn't be too daunting - in a few weeks time I will be facing a distance twice as long. But still, 13.1 miles is a fair distance to run. And, unlike the later longer runs, I wanted to do this in a decent time.

I set off at a decent starting pace, building up to run just over 8 minute miles. This was considerably faster than I should be doing, for either long run training or, ultimately, for the marathon itself. But, as I said above, today was partially (soon to be totally) about getting a good time.

I started to get a sharp soreness develop once again in my lower groin, upper quads. Always in the same position on the left leg, this was becoming something of an annoyance along with the perennial pain on my right Achilles Heel. I ran on for a few more miles, belting along down the hill towards Finsbury and down Rosebery Avenue. The enjoyment of going down the steep hill tempered only by the knowledge that I would be grinding back up it some five miles later.

The pain was not going away, so, when stopped at Mount Pleasant for the traffic, I stretched out my quads. Nothing amazing, just grabbing my left foot and stretching long and hard. Instantly the pain dissapated. I wasn't too optimistic, thinking it would return as soon as I set off again. It didn't after a few steps, a few hundred yards and ultimately mile after mile. It might be that this one problem has a simple, stretchy solution.

The long run took me past work, down to the river and along the usual river run. It is quite odd to start a run at mile 5, and for familiar mile markers to be far more advanced than usual (mile six at Waterloo Bridge). I did a small loop around Westminster, running back along the Embankment and then up Farringdon Road. It was going well, and I was running at a decent pace.

By mile eleven, and well in to Islington, I was feeling surprisingly fresh. The time was looking alright - on course for a sub 1:45 half marathon. I decided to go for it, and belted the last two miles in under 14 minutes. Well under 14 minutes - I finished the last mile in a little over six minutes as I sprinted the last 500 metres.

It isn't exactly textbook technique to finish in this way, but it felt bloody good to have done it. The only bad thing about setting a decent personal best is that the desire to beat it burns and gnaws at you. A sub 1:40 half-marathon in Malta? Down hill all the way.

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