Half Marathon Season

We’ve reached that point in the year when all running magazines have “Half Marathon Specials” or write columns about “Half Marathon Season” and there are indeed a lot of half marathons around just now. This month alone has seen 2 major events on the half marathon calendar – The Great Scottish Run and The Great North Run – and there are countless other races taking place around the country every weekend. I’ve never really stopped to think about why there are so many half marathons in the autumn, but it certainly makes sense for those with the bigger goal of a spring marathon to aim for. So with all this in mind, now seems a good time to consider my own experiences with the half marathon…

The half marathon can be a tricky distance as it’s not one that can really be tackled without some training. Although my “Runners’ Vocabulary” would now have me declare that it’s “only” a half marathon, 13.1 miles is still a distance that demands respect. I tend to really enjoy the first 10 miles then find it a bit of a slog towards miles 11 and 12 before a big finish over the last 1.1. And of course it is a big challenge that can take a lot out of the body. It’s a mere 2 years since I ran my first ever half marathon and I can still remember the nerves I felt in the days before (and at the start line!)

My first half marathon is one I will always remember as a very special experience: not only was it my first ever time running 13.1 miles, but it was the race where Steve and I got engaged. His proposal the night before was certainly a novel way of curbing my pre-race nerves, but it did not help me to get a good night’s sleep as my head was spinning! I think I got through that race on sheer adrenaline rather than good preparation, but at 2:13:02 I did achieve my target of being inside 2:15.

How things have changed! Next month I will return to Aviemore, this time with the target of running my first ever sub-2 hour half marathon. This is the elusive half marathon PB I’ve been chasing all year. My 2010 marathon training had the unexpected side effect of helping me to complete the Loch Leven Half in 2:01:31, but since then conditions have never yet been right for that tantalisingly close 1:59:59: Either my training has not gone to plan (step forward Dumfries Half), it’s been an excruciatingly hilly course (hello there Angus HAM and Stonehaven half) or an unbelievably hot day (we meet again Stonehaven, oh and how nice to see you Dundee Half) however I’ve achieved all my other race goals for this year and I’m determined to achieve this one too.

Theoretically, this should be the one. Training has been going well despite the inconveniences of a cold, school trips and parents’ evenings; the weather should be much cooler than for the races over the summer and the course overall loses elevation (although it’s most definitely not downhill all the way). My last 12 mile training run (round a VERY hilly local route) was 1:48:50ish, allowing me over 10 minutes to run the remaining 1.1 miles within my 2 hour target. This run showed me that I CAN do it and gave me the confidence that this time I’ll get the result I want.

Half Marathon Season? I’m only running one, but it certainly is a big focus in my training right now. So long as I stay relaxed, trust my training and prepare well the day before, I CAN make this one count…



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