Sunday, 13 June 2010

Southend Half

Just getting to this race was a challenge in itself! What is it with Transport for London and weekend tube closures? To get the 08:10 train to Shoeburyness for Fenchurch Street I had to be on a 06:30 bus from Wembley Park to Golders Green, catch a train from Golder Green to Bank and then walk 18mins to Fenchurch Street. To be honest I knew it said 06:30, but buses run so frequently in London I didn't even aim to get there on time! My mistake; the next bus wasn't for 30 mins - early morning on a Sunday doh! I wasn't too worried, but to make matters worse there was a power failure on the northern line so I had to get off the tube one stop early and get a rail replacement bus from Moorgate to Aldgate and then walk to Fenchurch street...n I eventually arrived at Fenchurch Street at 08:17, just a tad too late for the train. I did manage to get the 08:40 train which got me in to Shoeburyness at 09:48 - giving me 12 mins to find the start line, drop my bag, warm up and get going. Oh dear! 

As it turns out all the worry was for nothing, the start was just across the road from the train station and I walk over with a comrade I met on the train who had been caught out by the power failure like me. We dropped our bags and joined the mass of assembled people. 10:00 came and 10:00 went, but no sign of starting. Gave us a little more time to warm up, stretch and generally calm down - I checked my heart rate at this point, it was around 110bpm! (resting heart rate is normally 70bpm) At 10:20ish I decided I may as well use the loo whilst we were waiting. As luck would have it the race started off as I walked into the cubicle, I did think about not going, but decided I'd only need to go on route if I did that so rushed and still managed to start just short of the back of the group.

If you follow me on you'll know I've had a really crappy week training wise. I did 10km on Monday and 5km on Wednesday and Thursday. I've been feeling really sluggish running around, almost as if someone had locked up my battery cell and given me a most inferior one. I knew I wanted to run faster, I just couldn't find it in me to do so. Anyway, by Thursday I started getting out on my bike more and ditched the running in preparation for today. Even the bike was killing me though; every pedal stroke hurt! Saturday, I had a complete rest day - stayed in bed really late before heading down to London and grabbing dinner and Sex and the City with my two bff. It was meant to be and early night, but the movie didn't finish till after 23:00 and it was nearly midnight by the time I got back to my Mum's! Even so I still didn't get to bed till about 01:30 - yes I should know better! So thinking about times today I was really unsure; I want every race to be about beating my PB, but I was still getting my fitness levels back after injury, this would be my first race without support on my ankle as per my physio's wishes, I had had only four hours sleep, my last half had been 2:14 and if this week was anything to go by I was probably on my running death bed! The guy I met on the train asked me what I was aiming for and I had to say I didn't have a clue, when I told him I was coming back off injury he said take it easy, but then I don't want to! What's a girl to do?

So on to the race, it was a good, flat, fast race, it looped back on itself AND lapped, which I hate, but it was a very accurate course; my Garmin read 13.13. The good thing about loops and laps it that I saw the front runner going back as I was going down and then going down again as did my first run back! And of course he then passed me at 9.5 miles (for him) as I was still getting to 6 miles! 75mins I think he finished in! I did also see my speedy guy I met on the train three times too, we spent 45mins chatting and I never did ask him his name... But at around 10 miles he was going really strong so I'm sure today was a PB for him too. There were plenty of water stations along route, much more than I've ever seen on a race and sponges at every station too. I never normally take a sponge, but even though it was overcast it was still a warm day so I got to grips with them - very nice! 

I refused to look at my watch and check my pace; I wanted to run naturally and see what I could do since I'd had such a bad week. I did allow my self intervals though; I check after the first mile to see if I'd set the right pace, then at 7 miles to see how I was doing at the halfwayish point, and again at 10 miles since I knew there was only 5km to go from there. At mile 1 I was doing 9:33pm, a good pace so I felt confident I would complete in a decent time. At 7 miles I had done 1:09, which meant I was in range of a PB; I was a little shocked, but decided to go for it; my legs felt good, I was sure I could squeeze a little more out of them! At 10 miles I calculated I would have to run the last 5km in 28mins, normally quite achievable, but I had just ran 10 miles! Then on the second loop back around 10.5 miles we took a sharp left turn uphill back to the start. I couldn't keep the pace going uphill, so I did what I could and got back on track when we reached the top. I kept hoping for a bit of downhill to balance it out, but no such luck, it was all twists and turns from there! The finish was within sight a about 600m away, just. I was running along a sea wall at the time - and admiring the ocean?, sea?, I don't know! and couldn't quite work out how to get to it since is was inland. Well a left turn and a right turn later and I figured out where it was. There was a lady in front of me who must've had her whole family out to support her the noise they made! Unfortunately she was one of the people running at my pace who I'd decided to overtake at the end. I sprinted past her and a few other to the finish and to be honest I was quite disappointed. Had ti been a straight line to the finish I would have been confident enough to start sprinting earlier, but the twists and turns meant I thought the end was never coming so I held back a little at the end - everything had started hurting and I needed to finish! 

I came in with a respectable time of 2:09:32, just a tad short of my PB of 2:08:38, but at least now I know I can beat it a few days ago I was wondering if it was time to hang my running shoes up! The best bit about this race was running along the sea front - I could see boats in the water and a few of them were dragged across our path as we ran as well! The smell of the sea air whilst your running is great; something I'll never forget and in the last 1/2 mile the sun came out from behind the clouds and shined now - not so great as I was still running, but at least I made the rest of the day worth it!

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