Stafford Half Marathon
Sometimes when you don’t feel particularly ‘up for it’ you can amaze yourself with a best ever effort. Fortunately that’s what happened on Sunday at the Stafford Half, resulting in a near 3 minute personal best over the distance of 1:33:08. Happy days 🙂
It’s happened to me before when I ran in the ‘Sting in the Tail’ Congleton Half last year. That day I felt tired after running the Macclesfield Half the previous week plus it was freezing cold and yet I surprised myself with a 1:36:00 PB. In the days leading up to the Stafford race I’d been suffering with sinus trouble and was worried that I might not even get to race. As it was I woke up on Sunday feeling fine and suitably recovered and ready to go.
As usual I had a PB in mind but I was concerned that I hadn’t pushed myself enough in the preceding week or so to beat my PB over the distance. Having long since done away, perhaps foolishly, with the predetermined training plans I was reliant on a regimen roughly made up of a long run, a short recovery run, one speed-work session and a couple of ‘floater’ sessions per week usually consisting of one easy paced and one steady paced 5 to 6 mile run.
I was joined in the race by my brother (he just missed out on his sub 2hr target which was a great effort considering he was severely dehydrated in the last quarter of the race due to an ill advised mixed grill the night before) and it made a pleasant change to have company on the way to the race. I’m not bothered about company during the race though, I’m more concerned with not puking over my trainers or hyperventilating in my quest to push myself at that point!
The race itself……….The organisation was a pleasure. Loads of free parking in Stafford town centre only a couple of hundred metres walk to the start line. Plenty of portaloos for the inevitable pre-race jitters and a square in the centre of town for the runners to congregate with various things go on such as free massages and free horse racing tickets….all good.
I knew that there were plenty of familiar faces running, old friends, acquaintances and running club members but despite having a nosey around I didn’t see a soul I recognised before the start. Plenty at the finish though so they must have been hiding away in the coffee shops near the start.
The course itself had been advertised as fast and while it was certainly that, it didn’t come without its challenges. There were a couple of challenging climbs in the first half of the race which would have sapped under prepared legs. Thankfully I managed to latch on to a couple of guys who probably ran sub 1:30 at this point (it seemed to disconcert them a little which was funny given that I didn’t have the legs to go past them!) and they pulled me through with no adverse drop in pace.
The support was great and to be honest I enjoyed the race that much it sort of passed me by in a blur and before I knew it I was back in Stafford town centre for the finish. That said, I’m not sure I could have run another mile at the pace I was at so the finish line as it came was a welcome sight.
All things being well I would love to do the race again and think that a sub 1:30 is definitely possible on this course with some serious application in training. The Potters Arf will probably be my next race over the distance and that’s a different beast altogether. 1:36 will be the target there due to the ‘mountains’ on the course!
Splits below and for once I am actually almost pleased following a race. In the car on the way home I couldn’t help but think I could have gone 1:32 if I’d pushed slightly harder. The problem is that if I had I would have thought I should have gone quicker still, so you have to draw a line somewhere.