Watford half-marathon 1:31:26

I had hopes of a reasonably quick run today. Although it’s a lumpy course (and there are more hills in the first half, so you can expect to run a negative split), my previous best from 2009 was a decent 1:27:52. I’ve run 330km in January, admittedly quite steady mileage, but I thought it likely I’d get close to 1:28 today. My plan was to set out with 13 minutes for the first two miles and then settle at about 6:45 minute-miles.

It was a nice sunny morning for chatting and I caught up with Matt Molloy (@AhoySavaloy) on the womens/veterans red start. Despite recent tendonitis he was likely to be quite a bit quicker than me so I left him to mosey up to the front ranks while I found a place just in front of the 1:30 pacer.

Straight off the start and in the charge down the park I could feel I was struggling with the fast early pace. I went through 2 miles in 13:04, slightly off target, and it really felt like I was pushing it to stay at that pace so I throttled back – another 11 miles at that speed seemed daunting. I never really seemed to get going and on the hills I just didn’t have that extra gear that my cycling strength usually gives me – I was going backwards on them. On the flatter sections 7 minute miles felt OK, so I stuck with that. Halfway passed in 45:26 and just after this point the 1:30 pacer and his groupetto overtook me. That was a bit of a downer, I was expecting to be a minute ahead of them at this point. My heart-rate graph shows a bit of a dip after this point. Probably because there are more downhills but also mentally I was taking it easier from here on in.

There were some impressive floods on the run back through 9 and 10 miles. My feet were getting a bit hot in my racing flats so it was actually a nice cool relief even if it took half a mile for them to dry out after the last and deepest flood. There was a photographer or two there, so hopefully some impressive photos!

Soon we were on to the drags back up into Cassiobury Park and I managed to get up on my toes for the run to the line, in 1:31:26 (average 6:58 min/mi). Looking at my WAVA score now, this is actually about the same age-performance as my previous 1:27 so although I was initially disappointed not to run as fast as I’d hoped, it’s not too bad at all really. Across the finish I saw Colin Taylor from Watford Joggers handing out drinks (he’s been a club member since my mum was running with them, 20 or 30 years ago) and I went over for a quick chat.

It seems that lots of long, steady, running has turned me into a long, steady, distance runner. No bad thing with London Marathon coming up. Hopefully I can turn some of this endurance into speed in April. I’ve got another 6 weeks of distance work coming up and then the Gloucester 20.

Link to Strava data. Results from SportsSystems