Ards Half Marathon - first sub 2hour time!
Saturday, June 28, 2014
After all the drama with my foot a few days before the race, I ended up doing really well.
1hr58.46 was my finishing time and 1hr58.25 my chip time.
I decided to stick right next to the pacers for this race, which was probably the best thing that I could have done. Their coaching and conversation helped me through the hills, prevented me from slowing down more than I needed to and also taught me the value of how going faster in the flatter parts of the race can help to gain time when it comes to the hills. I've never run with a group before, but I've a feeling this helped me to surpass my goal time.
This was the Ards Half Marathon. The race was held in a town called Newtownards about a twenty minute drive inland from where I live. The race started at 6.30pm, so my first evening race, and the weather was kind. The sun came out around 4pm and it stayed that way for the entire race, making the views absolutely spectacular. I have to say that the scenery on the races here in Ireland make up for all the hills you have to run! As we climbed the first hill, we were rewarded with an amazing view of the Lough below. The hills were not steep, just a continuous steady incline. Most of the roads were small farm roads, which meant sheep in one field, harvesting crops on the next, and so forth. Although London races are flat, they simply cannot compete with this type of natural beauty. At the 8th Mile we arrived in Comber, the next town over and were greeted with crowds of people cheering us along - just what you need at mile 8!! There were also plenty of water stations, something that I've found a bit lacking in other longer races. Every two miles we had a water station, just enough for a few sips and to dunk the rest of the water down my back to keep cool. The amount of volunteers and police who were around to ensure our safety was incredibly impressive. It really was a superbly organised event, which made my experience absolutely wonderful.
I took advantage of the physio massage at the end of the race, not wanting to aggravate my foot pain. It was a short massage, but enough to loosen tight muscles and has meant that this morning I'm feeling ready to face the day. I also wonder if the fact that I got home and went straight to sleep also helped. The physio mentioned that my right calf muscle is very tight, suggesting that this could be what is aggravating my foot. It makes sense. If, after a week, my foot still doesn't feel right, I think I'll make an appointment with a physio just to see if anything can be done to ease this tension. I'm certain it's some type of inflammation, otherwise I don't think I would have been able to run as well as I did last night.
The pacer spoke to me after the race saying that he thinks I have a good ten minutes within me. He thinks I could work towards a 1.50 time simply by the fact that I was able to chat with him while climbing hills and the extra energy I had at the end of the race. It's a good goal to aim for, and may require joining a running club to reach, but if I've learned anything when it comes to running it's to keep things slow and steady. I've achieved a fabulous time for myself and need to sort out my foot before aiming to go faster. I think I'll focus on tempo in shorter runs for the next month or so, before going for my third half marathon of the year, where I'll aim to shave off one more minute from my time.
Something I always hold on to after achievements like this, is my first race five years ago now. This was a 5km event that I finished in 36 minutes, clinging to my water bottle and huffing and puffing all the way through. To see the progression to being able to do 21km in under two hours, with encouragement that I can do even better, always makes me proud of that first step I took towards a healthier life, when all I had was the dream to run steadily for thirty minutes. It has been a slow progression for me, but so very rewarding.