I did it! 2 hours 34 mins and 52 seconds officially (one second faster than my Garmin said). Not only was that about an hour quicker than I expected (and to be fair it was only 15-25 minutes slower than my previous seven half matahon times) I also didn’t even need to complete it by ‘wogging’, I ran unbroken until the 16km mark and only walked a couple of times in the last 5km. My first 5km and 10km were actually my fastest 5km and 10km post Pandemic.
I’ve honestly never been so nervous beforehand, I didn’t sleep much and must have had about 25 nervous wees before the race even started (oh and one portaloo stop on the way round – if I hadn’t maybe I’d have been under 2 hours 30!). Once I started running though I felt suprisingly good and relaxed. In fact for the first 10km I felt like I was almost coasting and it really wasn’t until I was closer to 15km that I felt my legs start to feel heavy. I always find with longer distances that it isn’t my breathing that I struggle with, it’s the legs feeling tired and as I’d been ill during the last few weeks my energy levels didn’t feel great to begin with. I also felt my knee start to twinge around 7km, which concerned me at the time, but it held out quite well.
Here’s my thoughts post run:
- Splitting the run down into sections helps me mentally tackle a long run. I broke it down into 4 5km runs with a 1km finisher and focused on that one 5km at a time. Each section I told myself I could walk for a bit if I ran that 5km section, it pushed me to keep moving with something to aim for and in the end for most of it I didn’t need to walk and just kept going.
- I started this run faster than I meant to – I was thinking of aiming for 13-14 minutes miles at least to start with and my first three miles all came in under 11 minutes each. I purposefully had to slow myself down because I knew I’d gass myself out if I kept that up but in the end I averaged an 11.4 minute mile. Normally I’m really careful to pace myself early on and speed up if I can rather than go out too quick, but this time I was nervous and that made me go hard early on, in the end that start meant I felt like I had wiggle room in the second half of the run which calmed me down so it worked out ok but isn’t the ideal race tactic.
- Strategic walking can actually help your time, I find it better to plan when and how far to walk if needed though to avoid getting into that stop start pattern. If you do needto stop running though keep moving, stopping to stretch or breath half way through a half does nothing for your legs.
- Manchester has some nice sites to run past but a lot of dull industrial parts too, the atmosphere is great but it isn’t always the most scenic.
- Strategic energy gels are useful. Not waiting until you feel like your flagging but taking at pre -planned times keeps you feeling steady throughout. I’m also always pretty careful on water intake, a few sips at each station otherwise I find I often get a stitch.
- Airpod battery life is not sufficient for the slower runner.
All in all I was actually really chuffed with my finishing time and also the actual run itself, which was probably stronger than the time suggests. I’m looking a the next Manchester Half in October now, with perhaps the aim to get back to a 2 hour 10 minute finishing time.