A Jolly Good Time Down By The River: Water Of Life Half Marathon
I marked the end of last weekend with an event. The Water Of Life Half Marathon at Bisham, near Marlow, Bucks. The race brought my grand total mileage for that week up to the 50 mile mark, which seemed a great way to end my main body of training before I start my taper.
A Marathon Of Restraint
Despite Saturday’s late afternoon rain that got me lost in the moment in the 4 mile jaunt-cum-sprint-post-travel-de-stress-and-check-out-the-scenery run, the early morning mist greeted me at the door to my hotel, bringing a chilly start to the day. But by gun time the mist, like my nerves, had been burnt off by the brilliant mid-morning sunshine and as I headed out through the start funnel I reminded myself that I was here to run, that the race I was in was against myself – this would be a 21 kilometre test of my restraint, not my endurance.
“You’re doing great, keep it up” shouted a spectator as the mass passed. wonderful and encouraging as that is, kind of pointless at the .2 of a kilometre mark, but good to hear.
Pretty soon I had picked up a running buddy and we kept each other company on the opening 5K. “Have you ran halves before?” was his query. It may have been standard racing banter, or it may have been the backpack. The course had water ever 5K or so and in the chilly mid-morning air additional hydration was not needed so of the 150 odd who eventually ran, maybe 5 of us were carrying our own fluids.
At the 10K mark, a quick glance at my watch indicated that I was on the slightly quicker side of 6min/K than I wanted to be, I had struggled all run to get slow enough to register a 6min/K pace and, to be honest, I had given up on it – for the most part I was running 5:50’s or so and I felt pretty good so I was happy that I could maintain the effort. The big hill, my nemesis during my 9th kilometre, is partly to blame for this as the uneven grass had finally given way to some concrete, an excuse to practice my ‘easing into a nice long downhill stride’ tactic had subsequently ended up in my next kilometer or two being a lot quick than I was planning on as it was hard to shave off the speed without totally crippling my rhythm.
As I entered the final 3.5 kilometres, I was feeling pretty good, very good to be exact. I had managed to maintain the pace around the high 5 mark and after a scheduled walk/drink at the 15K mark I managed to catch up to a guy in green who had been playing tag with me since my fast hill. As my slightly faster pace slowly edged me past him he pulled off a headphone and stated:
“What are you, my nemesis!” He explained that he had also noticed our game of tag for some time now. I was going to run with him for a bit, ease off a little for the last few kilometers but I went ahead of him at small bridge and soon found myself on my own again.
A slightly sore hip, maybe a tight IT band, got the better of me with about a kilometre to go. I was going to push through the pain but it was getting pretty intense and I knew my family were going to be at the finish line, so I picked a tree and spent a couple of minutes stretching it out – my IT band, not the tree. Once I had done this, although it took me closer to a 2:05 than a 2:01, my leg felt much better and I was able to finish strong.
2:03:42 (officially) and my pace averaged out at about 5:55 per K, which felt pretty good. I have decided to run Marysville with a target time of 4:20:00 – this means I need to run 6:10 per K – which I know I can do, and, judging by my recent performance, I should be able to maintain this pace.
If you are ever up Marlow way and this race is on, give it a go. The course is really pretty and easy to navigate. It is relatively flat and the event organisation is really good. The end of race goody bag includes a decent technical tee and the usual medal to add to the collection – this year’s one is quite nice though – if you like that sort of thing that is.