Monday 17 August 2015

World Masters Half Marathon

Strava track |

Not all races go perfectly according to plan, and this was no exception.

For various reasons, not all of which I can remember, I didn't do anywhere near enough training beforehand.  I had grand plans of high mileage weeks, and long runs, but only ended up with a few 25 to 30 mile weeks, and one longish run at Dunoon Half Marathon, 2 weeks before Lyon with 1:21:35 in a gale force wind. So I was fairly sure I could run faster than this at Lyon.

Straight after Dunoon, I ran the Tour of Clydeside - 5 race in 5 nights - which made both Achilles exceedingly sore. So I didn't run again for 9 days prior the Lyon Half. Not exactly ideal preparation, but I thought I might get away with it on the day.

The day of the race, Sunday 16th August, started at 4am with a couple of bananas, some biscuits and 800ml of Go Electrolyte. At 6am I was down at Parc de Parilly in cover of darkness. I bumped into Northern Irish twin sisters Lisa and Sian Finlay from Dumfries, and we went for a warm up jog, and to find some toilets.

We then bumped into Colin and Scott. More warm up jogs and toilet visits, and with 10 minutes to go it was suddenly time to get on the startline.

Imagine my dismay when I realised I was stuck at the back of this crowd, with no plausible way of jumping up to the front line.
Log jam at start of half marathon / marathon
The starting area was barriered off, and totally solid with people. There was no possibility of moving up and getting a decent starting position.  Once the gun went off, it seemed to take 20 seconds or so to reach the start line. I was then running into a wall of slower runners, dodging street furniture, and generally jostling for position. Not the best way to start the race, but after a kilometre or so things started to settle down.

I could see Colin Feechan around 50 metres ahead, and it took me until about 4km to finally catch him. After briefly overtaking Colin, I sat right behind him to 8km, before a slight gap opened up, which I didn't work hard enough to close down again. Just before halfway, I was caught and passed by Lisa Finlay, and noticed my first 10km was much slower than expected at nearly 39 minutes.

This didn't bode well for going sub 1:20. In fact some instant maths suggested I'd be struggling to go sub 1:22 at this pace.

I did try to pick things up for the second half, but so many twists and turns, I never got another site of Lisa or Colin, plus all the other runners in the way.  So I had no idea how far ahead they were.

I finished strongly enough, but somehow felt like I never really got properly into the race, what with the duff start, followed by all the jostling on the corners, and then being so far back in the race I got into too much of a comfort zone with slower runners, rather continually pressing and pushing on.

My finish time of 1:21:38 was not a complete disaster, but was 3 seconds slower than at Dunoon 2 weeks previously, where I felt like I'd been taking it deliberately easy. So it was not a great time either. Just something fairly average in the middle.

Despite the slowish time, I did finish as 1st M50 in the British team. And 19th M50 overall.

About 2km to go.
Photo: Alan Ramage