So just a few days now until I run my 4th half marathon, the Poppy Half in Bexhill-on-Sea.
I'd been really looking forward to this race. Seven weeks ago I ran the Dublin Half, well-trained and ready to go. Unfortunately for me, a big hill and lack of a real race strategy did me in. I ran it in 2:01:43...a PB but short of my sub-2:00 goal. The Poppy Half was going to be my redemption.
My first few weeks of training went well. I stuck fast to my pace targets, started doing pilates for some strength training, and added a lot of dynamic stretching. I felt strong, fast...and was thrilled when I comfortably completed my first 15 mile run.
But then I got a cold. One of those miserable, I'm-congested-everywhere-you-can-be-congested kinds of colds. Despite getting lots of rest I was sick for about two weeks and didn't run the entire time.
Everyone said that the rest would probably do me some good. And though I've been running again for the last two weeks and it hasn't been as horrible as I thought it would be....it hasn't been great, either. I've struggled to keep a good pace, and in general feel a bit more tired than usual.
And then yesterday I ran what was supposed to be my final run before the half. A four mile fartlek just to try and get a little speed into my legs. It turned out to be absolutely awful. The worst run I've had in years. I think I even hyperventilated halfway through! Proof, I think, of my lack of preparation for this race.
So what should I do? Should I just go for it and race it as planned? Try to break that sub-2:00 mark? Or should I treat this as more of a training race, and just try to finish comfortably? I'll probably debate this over and over again the next few days. But if I'm honest with myself I don't think a sub-2:00 will be possible this time.
I'll probably just follow this simple strategy. Run as close to race pace as feels comfortable, and then stay steady through the race. If I'm still feeling good towards the end I'll try to pick it up a bit. That's it.
I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed. I felt like I should have run under 2 hours in Dublin, and was determined to do it my next race. It's likely I'll have to wait until my next half in February but at least I know I have lots of chances in the future.
But who knows? Maybe I'll feel great on Sunday and surprise myself!
Good preparation + no race strategy
Poor preparation + simple race strategy
Which one will result in a better race? I honestly don't know so I'm just going to go out there and make sure I do something very basic...