So the last two months of training came to a head today on a gloriously sunny day in Southend...well it was glorious for all the non runners...for us runners it was a bit less glorious :-).
My training to date has been to try to finish around 1 hour 50 mins, but that wasn't possible in today's heat. I got to Southend nice and early, with a friend who was running his first HM, and it was already hot at 8:30am. We got ready and hung around near the beach for a while. I warmed up (warmed up even more that is) and was raring to go.
I was aiming for a much faster time than my friend so as soon as we when through the starting funnel I pulled away to move up to a slot where the runners were going closer to my pace. I ran the first 3kms very quickly (15:20) and then settled into a more steady pace. I was still hoping for a time around 1hr 50 mins but realised after a few more kms that it just wouldn't be possible in the heat. So I set myself to aim for a 1hr 55 min time and did a quick bit of mental maths to work out what I would splits I would need to achieve it.
As an aside I was running close to an older chap who after a few kms was making what I would describe as a moaning sound with every other breath. At about 10km another runner quipped that the guy sounded like he felt! The older chap said he was using a deep breathing technique but I am sure the moaning must have been using a lot of energy!
Anyway there were plenty of water stations along the route where they were giving out cups and sponges. This is the first time I have ever used cups during a run and it is very difficult. I couldn't take much in and later in the run I started to stop at the water station and gulp the water down before running again. I also started to tip half the cup over my head to cool me down!
If you follow the link at the bottom of this post you will see the route, it was mainly flat and it included running along the coast to the town, then back, then back to the town and then back again! The good thing with the route was that I could see a lot of people I knew running on the other side of the road along the route. It appeared that half of the regular runner at Barking Parkrun were there, so I exchanged a few encouragements to them as we crossed paths. When I passed my friend the second time we exchanged a high five.
I had three gels in my pocket and I had them at 7km, 12km and 16km, it definitely helped me get through the run.
When I got to 16km I told myself that it was only a Parkrun to go, so even though I was close to exhaustion I pushed myself on. I looked at my Garmin saw that if I hung on I should get a sub 1:55. At about the 17.5km mark we left the coast and turned left, there was a slight incline but it felt like a mountain at that stage. I tried to up my pace at but it wasn't possible, I increased my effort but the times stayed the same.
My Dad came along with me to spectate and when I was 1km from the end I passed him walking back to the start and shouted over to him, I very much wanted to walk back with him but knew I was so close so I kept plugging away. There were a few twists and turns at the end and then I saw a "300m" to go sign and decided now was the time to go for it. I went from doing 5:45 min/km pace to 4:20 min/km pace and kept it up.
It was an amazing feeling running through at the end with all the spectators cheering us on and made it all well worth it. When I finished my legs turned to jelly and I had to lean on a post while a marshall took off my timing chip.
So overall a challenging experience but well worth it. I have now run two HM races and both were very challenging, you can read this post to see how difficult my previous one was:
Thanks to everyone who reached the end of this mammoth post. Here is a link to my run and happy running all!