This morning I decided to have a bit of dress rehearsal for next months Hackney half marathon. I got myself up a bit early and had a high fibre breakfast a good 90 minutes before the run. I drank water only and started to put my kit together; several gel packs and some small sugary sweets for the run went into my bumbag.
The route I chose was close to home and the reverse of one I've done a coupe of times before. The reason for the reversal was to force me to take in a 2.5km climb, albeit a gentle one, about half way round. Now normally this is a nice easy mid-run downhill-ish section, but today I wanted a test. I started out on the 13.1 mile run at just after 7 this morning.
I planned brief stops, to simulate taking on water and energy drinks at roughly the same Intervals as are indicated in the Hackey HM route map. I consumed my gel packs - these things seem to work quite well for me - and resumed the run. Now, I plan to run Hackney at about 7 minutes per km which will bring me home in about 2h27. As usual I went off too fast and averaged 6:48 over the first 5k. It just felt very slow and I was worried that I wouldn't meet target. One of these days I will figure out this pace thing.
The mid section of the run was more or less on target pace-wise and then came that hill. It turned out to be no where near as bad as I feared. I was up on my toes and chanting my specially selected mantra the whole way ; "Road to Hack-ney" as my feet hit the ground. I took it nice and easy with the pace at something more like 7:15 or so and I celebrated the end of the hill with a 6:44 km through the middle of Brentwood town centre, where i was cheered on by two workmen on a scaffold as I passed Laura Ashley. Nice curtains.....
The final section took me on a 6km stretch along the country road that connects the town to my village. Lots of twisty bits mean that you have to be careful with oncoming traffic. I slowed considerably after I felt a twitch in a hamstring, but it wasn't enough to stop me. The one annoying part was when a Woman driving in a Range Rover decided that she would drive within inches of me through a width restriction at normal speed. Even though I was wearing bright yellow, even though she could see me from over 100m away, even though she had plenty of time to back off and slow down, she decided that it was clearly my responsibility to jump into the adjacent ditch and get out of her way. The air turned blue and I'm not about to apologise.
The good news is that I survived and continued homeward. The Garmin buzzed at 21km and I continued on for the extra 110m to make sure I covered the full distance and the clock stopped at 2h32. now that's not exactly fast, but the point is simply this. Today I took on a HM distance over a course that is lot tougher than the one I can expect in Hackney next month and as a result I will be going into it with a good deal of confidence.
I'm really looking forward to it now and I think a sub 7 minute pace all the way round will be a real possibility!