Last weekend I ran the Perkins Great Eastern Run in Peterborough. It kicked off my marathon training, and the aim of setting a new, fast PB at the half marathon distance before I knew I had to slow down and increase the miles over the next few months.
The set up was great. The week before I tapered properly, ate well and slept an enormous amount. I wanted to see if I could pace without the use of gels and used it as an experiment in what worked and what didn’t in terms of pre race nutrition.
The race was well organised, super local and very well attended by BRJ runners. The course, which runs through Peterborough city centre, and then north through the local housings estates before looping back is a club champ course and advertised as a PB race. For that, I was looking forward to seeing what I could do.
I had the ambition of running at sub 1:50:00 pace. That meant averaging about 5:15p/km which I knew was going to challenge my endurance. The weather was great, no wind and it was dry so I was excited to get going. In the pens, we met our pacers. Two seasoned runners from Yakley, In fact for both of them it was their 25th GERs.
The race started promptly, and we were soon off. I was shoulder to shoulder Wight eh pacers. It’s a bit like catching the bus. You have this awkwardness between you, trying to build a relationship so that when’s it’s tough you know they are they’re however not enough so they talk the whole way round. People come and people go, some don’t make it as the pace is too quick while others speed off and jump back on later.
We had a good rhythm, supporting each other and pacing evenly for the first 8 miles. For the first time I also really enjoyed it. The atmosphere and support was fantastic. As we approached 10 miles I could feel my legs starting to drag. I was puffing and my confidence was starting to slip. I can remember myself thinking it’s only another 3 miles to go, but my body and legs were telling me otherwise. I took on a gel, which was maybe too late and as I struggled to take it from my pocket the pack continued at pace and were soon ahead. I was gutted to lose momentum.
It now become a race. I had two challenges - one to get back on pace and re join the pack and two, to beat the watch and achieve my goal. Every stride felt dull and heavy. People were overtaking and I knew my race was over. It was now about finishing.
As I approached the end, 12, 12.5, 13 miles… The support was incredible. Fellow runners giving encouragement and also the odd BRJ runner tapping me on the shoulder as they passed, heading for the finish. I crossed the line in 01:52:35.
I learnt a lot running the GER. Setting a goal is really healthy. You run quicker, mentally prepare to achieve a good time and although I didn’t meet it, I wasn’t far off and still achieved a new PB, improving by over 8 minutes. I know I need to focus and dig deeper when i start to drag. 10, 11 miles is when the fatigue set in, mainly due to the pace however the distance isn’t by any means impossible.
I’ve got another 2 races before Christmas when I really need to slow down and increase the miles, so hopefully with some speed work and true determination I’ll crack 01:50:00 this side of Christmas!