So the time finally came for the Oxford Half Marathon – my ‘A’ race for this season. All the signs of just being happy with finishing were there – horrible cold that knocked me out for ages, only long runs (2×10 miles) done weeks before, and a grade 1 tear in my calf muscle. I had in the back of my mind a real stretch target (1h 55 mins injury free) a doable target of sub 2 hours (if the planets were aligned and my lucky pants weren’t in the wash) and an easier target of just PBing (ie, less than 2hours 10).
I knew it was going to be cold, wet and miserable, but I was secretly looking forward to the first race of the season without overheating (I don’t run well in the heat!).
In the morning, I had my usual porridge and a shot of Beet-It Sport before heading off in the car to park near the Kassam stadium (where the race started from). All seemed fine until I realised I had forgotten to bring my chip with me as we parked up (note to self: add the chip to my trainers the night before!). Then the panic and disappointment set in – I mean without the chip time it’s like it didn’t happen! I gave myself a good shake and realised that unless I’m coming in the top 10 who cares?
We met a bunch of people at the Helen and Douglas House tent and made our way rather late to the race start (way back beyond the 2h 15min pacer). As always, I then spent the first few miles ducking and diving and running past the usual walkers, over taking the 2hour 15 pacer and the 2hour 5 pacer. I ran the first 5k around the 27-minute mark and was feeling good, despite being soaked to the bone. The boyf decided to wait for me at mile 4 and mile 11 to get some pictures and provide much-needed moral support. I made the 4-mile rendezvous on schedule and was feeling good.
My Sweaty Betty compression tights were a god send!
Around mile 7 when we were trundling along the bog-like paths through Christchurch Meadows and as I was dodging the numerous puddles I made a comment about the hideous conditions and my friend turned around (I hadn’t spotted her). After a hug and a run together, I headed off (the tow path section, although lovely, was far too cramped and I was struggling to maintain my pace). Just before mile 10 and the end of the tow path section, I heard my name being called again and it was none other than the lovely Chilton Diva – we wished each other well and I bounded off again – I’d hit 10 miles at bang on 1hour 30 and was really conscious of the last 3 miles being tough. In my head I had broken the race down into quarters – I love 5ks and I told myself it was just a series of easy 5ks. Having said that, I had to fight through the tiredness and complete the last 5k in between 25 and 28 minutes to get the time I had hoped for and the illusive sub 2-hour half marathon. A little boost came in the form of the boyfriend again who was waiting patiently at mile 11. I only just spotted him hence the slightly bemused expression!
Just before mile 12 I spotted another blogger – Katie of Cake of Good Hope fame looking really strong (the woman’s a legend!) – I managed to stick in close proximity to her until the end when we crossed the finish line together into the Kassam stadium (nice place to finish!).
My time was an astonishing 1:58:57! Despite the injury and the terrible lack of training I had smashed my previous PB by a whopping 12 minutes! I am beyond pleased with that. Big thank you to all the lovely people on twitter and the blog who have been so supportive it means a lot. xx
Diva rating: 4/5
– Local to me
– Easy to park
– Nice bling
– Accurate course
– Lots of spectator points
– Hearing my name called out at least 3 times!
– Finishing in the Kassam stadium
– Not all of the course was that pretty – quite a lot of it was through housing estates and along main roads, which, given that Oxford is touted as one of the prettiest cities was a little disappointing!
– The information pack was pretty poor to say the least and comprised a number and a chip (which I forgot!)
Would I do this again?
Probably – it all depends on whether it clashes with another race next year.
Me having a sports massage and looking ridiculously pleased with myself!