Back in October 2016 during my first year of running I ran my first and only half marathon (either road or trail) and finished in a time of 1:36:51. Since then I haven’t run quicker than that. Most times I ran the distance in training I never pushed myself so not sure how close I would have been able to get to it but I never felt that I was capable of bettering it.
First Half Marathon Post-Second Surgery
Back on July 24th I decided to attempt my first half marathon since I had the second surgery in September 2019. The route went out and back on the Severn Bridge twice so wasn’t flat but also not hilly. I pushed myself back then and managed to finish in just under 1:49. I was ecstatic that I had completed it in a respectable time but it was hard.
Fast forward two months and I’m a month into a new training plan and have been doing regular speed sessions, hill work and long runs. My times have been improving and I’ve been able to run distances of 6-8 miles at a faster pace.
Half Marathon Training Run
At the end of the 4th week my training plan called for 12 miles at race pace. 12 miles is so close to a half marathon so I couldn’t resist using the session as a test to see how I had improved.
Leading up to the run I decided on a pace of 7:45 /mi which works out at 1:41:32 which I was hoping that I would be comfortable completing. I contemplated setting the pace at 7:38 /mi which would bring me in at just under 1:40 but wasn’t confident about managing that pace.
I set 7:45 /mi and 13.1 miles into the PacePro feature on the watch and set off. The feature is potentially great if you keep to it but I’ve yet to stick to it. It’s still useful as it will tell you if you are overall behind or ahead of pace.
I immediately set out quicker than planned finishing the first mile in 7:27. The pace was feeling comfortable although I had another 12 miles to run so whilst it was feeling comfortable now I was taking a gamble as to whether I would be able to keep it up.
The first part of the run is the long stretch of Queensway running parallel with Llanwern Steelworks (what remains of it) and is arrow straight for around 3.5 miles until it reaches the turning to Redwick which was where I was heading to complete a loop around the Rose Inn (and right at the edge of Newport which is as far as I’m allowed to go) and then head back towards Queensway. By this point I was maintaining between 7:00-7:10 /mi which wasn’t feeling too bad although I was feeling like I was pushing myself.
By the time I had reached around 6 miles I was a couple of minutes ahead of pace which would mean that I could possibly finish sub-1:40. The prospect of achieving this was spurring me on and keeping me running at the same pace. Frustratingly at mile 7 I had to stop to tie up and shoe lace which slowed me down a bit and made me lose the momentum I’d built up.
Before reaching Queensway I took left to follow the straight roads through Broadstreet Common and eventually back to start to complete the 13.1 mile loop. Somehow I was able to maintain the same pace averaging around 7:15 /mi and looking at the watch I could see that I was continuing to gain time and was over 4 minutes ahead. Doing some maths I there was a possibility that I would get close to my PB of 1:36:51. Mile 10, 11 and 12 were all at 7:15 /mi or less and I was now 5 minutes ahead of schedule so was on track to beat my PB.
Turning onto the final stretch leading back to the finish I was well over 6 minutes ahead and up until this point I hadn’t looked at the elapsed time so when I looked at the time and saw that I had a real chance of getting sub-1:35 I pushed hard to keep the pace for the last mile. As I hit 13 miles I was constantly checking the watch until it reached 13.11 and then I could stop. As I reached the distance I stopped the watch and checked the time. 1:34:44! Over 2 minutes quicker than Cardiff’s time! I felt like I was going to throw up but I had done it, I’d not only beaten July’s time by over a minute per mile, I’d scored a PB.
Since surgery the times I’ve been getting have just been ‘PBs since surgery’ but this was an actual PB. For the rest of the day I was on a runner’s high and still find it hard to believe that I managed to get that time. It showed that the getting up at 5:30am a couple of times a week to do a speed session in the pouring rain or run up and down a steep hill had paid off. I’ve got another 2 months on the plan so can’t wait to see what else I can achieve. I’ve got a goal of getting sub-20 for a 5k again but I’m wondering if I should aim to beat my PB of 19:37?