Chippenham half marathon

AM. Run 21km, inc. Chippenham half marathon.

no w/u
13.1 miles/1:33:47 (7:09 min/mile) __ HR164(177)
5 miles 35:55 (7:11 min/mile)
10 miles 1:11:26


Today was Jules’ first half marathon. We left Oxford with plenty of time in hand to make the drive to Chippenham, but when we hit the M4 there were signs that it was closed from junction 14 to 16! Sure enough, cones appeared in the road and we were directed off the carriageway. I drove us down to Hungerford and along the old A4, through countryside I know well from various audaxes. We were thinking that the race organisers would know about the road closure and hopefully hold the race start for 15 minutes (as has happened at a previous race we’ve been to where the traffic was held up), so we weren’t panicking too much.

We got to the end of the queue for parking with about 25 minutes to spare and after leaving the car, walked over to queue for the loos. Jules didn’t have her number on, so we pinned that on in the queue, and I got stripped off. When we emerged from the loos, there was not a soul to be seen – they were all at the start! I jogged over to the baggage tent and hurriedly dumped my bag, but when I got back to Jules she remembered she’d not put any sunscreen on – fatal for a redhead on what was looking like a very sunny morning! We hoped she’d be able to pick some up on the way around and made our way to various points in the start-line mêlée.

Less than 2 minutes later the gun went and we were off, at a slow jog. Not having done much long running lately (since the end of June!) I reined-in my racing head and just jogged along with the crowd. It was nice to be taking it easy. I started to get some clear space after about a mile and a half, and just kept on moving forward from group to group as everyone slowed up fom their fast starts. If I needed to get past an annoying runner (someone grunting, or with their iPod turned up to 11), I’d just put on a bit of speed and got past them. My pace varied between 7:20 and 7:01 per mile.

Past the 6 mile point and I was still feeling good, although my soft feet were starting to burn – there was a blister or two on the way. From about 7 miles I started to race a bit more and concentrated on closing the gap to each group in from of me in turn. Somewhere around here, I was passed by the only runner to overtake me. He was going well, and I thought about following him but I was having a nice time and didn’t feel like racing that hard. There was a long draggy climb through miles 11 and 12, and despite upping the effort, I ran my slowest mile here, before a last half-mile downhill sprint to the line. Pretty happy with my time, a steadyish run quite a bit slower than last year, but a negative split (second half faster than the first).

After collecting my finishers medal, T-shirt and my bag, I got changed and waited for Jules. I was very pleased to see her turn into the finishing field with a little more than 2 hours 20 on the clock. She looked a bit tired, but it had been a  great run from her. She told me later she’d managed to get some factor-50 from a helper at the first drinks station (3 miles), and had otherwise had a steady run. She also found the last few miles taxing but had been determined not to walk. I was very pleased for her. There were only 1300 finishers from 1800 entrants, so I’m wondering if a lot of people got stuck by the M4 closure and never made it to the race.

We made our way home, back down the now re-opened M4 and I sat about most of the rest of the day, drinking a few beers and happy that the season was over.