Yesterday some 18,500 runners descended on the O2 arena in North Greenwich, along with scores of supporters, charity workers, race volunteers, DJs and interested (or otherwise) local residents for the Run To The Beat half marathon. Billed as ‘London’s music half marathon’ the course weaved around (and up and down) Greenwich, taking in residential streets, buses royal artillery grounds, the observatory and the beautiful Greenwich royal gardens along with 13 or so music stages dotted around the course. I ran with headphones on, so I didn’t really hear too much of what was on offer, but I imagine the effect would have been a little like hearing a snippet of a song every mile or so.
The course itself was nothing amazing. In fact, parts of it were exceptionally boring and I ran down the kilometers thinking about the suitability of certain areas in Greenwich to a certain friend who is considering buying a house there in the new year (shame I can’t really remember where the good parts were!). Having said that, I think half or full marathons that have no boring parts at all are probably few and far between. There was one hill pretty much half way that I had heard a lot of bad things about. I tried, honestly, not to demonise this hill in my mind. I really thought I was going to get there and it was going to hurt ten time more than it should because I had really built it up. In the end the opposite happened, we got to the hill and I thought, ‘Is this it?’ – I expected it to keep going around the corner but it kind of just flattened out and that was it. No big deal.
So, here’s my race:
I had three time goals in mind when I started. Gold was sub-2:15, silver was sub-2:20 and bronze was sub-2:30. I knew right away that I wasn’t near running sub-2:15, so I am really happy to have run 2:17 on the nose. Actually, my Garmin measured 2:16:58 so I think a two-second difference is pretty accurate! What I’m most happy about, however, comes when you compare my graph with that of the overall average:
See the difference? That’s right: I ran my fastest at the end of the race! Although, my pace was fairly consistent the whole run, hovering between 6:10 and 6:30, with one or two anomalous instances, mainly from having to walk though water-stations because I (like many others, I suspect) have not yet mastered the running-while-drinking-from-a-cup. You can see that my average pace is 6:23 per kilometer, and my pace hovers fairly well around there.
But the point is: I ran a negative split. And that’s what matters (to me, anyway)! I was overtaken by a lot of people who jumped out of the gate, but you can see from the average that most people ran their fastest at the start. Not that I’ll ever be close to claiming one, but world records are beaten with negative splits!
Overall, I’m really happy. I felt pretty good the whole way around with my predictable walls at around 3km and around 8km. I hit another snag around 18km when suddenly 3 kilometers felt like an age of running, but that soon cleared up and I got through pretty easily. Another thing I can take away is that I now know that I can get into a nice rhythm and maintain the pace even when I feel as though I am struggling – maybe that signifies that my wall is much more mental than physical (but, aren’t they all really?) I sprinted though the finish and, around fifteen minutes later when I finally got to see Mr. Neon and baby Neon I ran over to them, and a little later ran a few circles around Mr. Neon just being excited! He was less than excited about how much I still had left to go.
But, that’s not to say that I think I could have pushed more during the race. I really don’t think I could have – but I did feel as though I could have kept going. I know that probably makes no sense, but it made perfect sense to my body at the time. I think it certainly bodes well for next April’s marathon, and any future distance races I will do.
So, here’s the final result!