Sunday, June 13, 2010

Southend Half Marathon 2010

Funny old game, this running.

My expectations for this race were very low, having had a sluggish few weeks after the VLM, and falling prone to niggles various. Also, I did it last year and wasn't looking forward to the repetitive "up and down the front four times" course.

Still, as a relative new boy to the club, I find that races keep me training, so I had my day at the seaside.

The course is very flat and very boring (up and down, up and down) but it's well managed, with friendly marshals, plenty of water and sponges (ah! the sponges!) as well as the lure of a fine Rossi '99 ice cream at the finish. Lots of club running vests, but also plenty of locals running for the Havens Hospices, who organise the event.

I set off hoping to cling to an 8 minute/mile pace, and was surprised to find it wasn't as tough as I thought it might be. Those speed sessions on a Thursday night really do work, it seems, because I was clocking up enough 7:30s and 7:40s to begin to give me ideas above my station. Maybe I could have a go at my PB, after all (1:40:27 at Hastings in March).

One thing I've learned from the club is that I run faster by training with people who run faster with me. I've spent enough evenings staring at Franks's back, or Krysia's or Fiona's (Mrs Incredible) to have some kind of muscle memory for chasing folk down. And when I run, I count backwards from a hundred.

I know.

Over and over again.

"One hundred, Ninety-nine," etc etc over and over ad infinitum. I'm a great conversationalist, though, honestly.

Anyway, today I put the two together and imagined a digital clock on the back of the runner in front of me. It cut out the negative thinking - Can we just stop please? Isn't this a bit silly? - and helped me forget about worrying injuries into being where none existed.

It worked, because the boring 8,9,10 miles, back along the front for the fourth time, kept me in with a chance of sub 1:45.

I can probably thank England goalie Robert Green for my result, as there must have been plenty of unused adrenaline in my system after watching his USA whoopsy last night. The field was about 1500 and I came in 350th, at 1:41:37; only a minute outside my PB. Not too shabby, as this morning, I'd have been happy with anything under two hours.

As I say, a funny old game.

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