Hills, Hills and More Hills

Well this was the week that I’ve been working towards, my first half marathon.  Hope you’ve all had successful weeks with your running. My training plan had three short three mile runs leading up to the race on Sunday, as my race was on Saturday I decided to do two three mile runs.  I did one on Tuesday and one Thursday, both times running the long route to Sainsburys, doing the shopping and walking back home.  Who says you can’t fit exercise into your day?

Coming up to the start of the race

We had been invited out in a boat for the day on Friday, which was great fun but probably not the best preparation for my first half.  Still, it had the added affect that I was absolutely shattered Friday night from all the fresh sea air and slept quite well, something that rarely happens the night before a race.

We were up early as David had entered into the Marathon that started at Slindon College near Chichester, and followed the South Downs Way to finish at Queen Elizabeth Country Park near Petersfield.  He had to catch a bus from the finish to the startline at 7am.  My race didn’t start until 10am with the start and finish being at the Queen Elizabeth Country Park.  So I pottered about getting ready which gave me plenty of opportunity to visit the toilet.  I have nothing to eat or drink on the morning before a race because otherwise I need the toilet as soon as I start running.  This however does not prevent numerous visits before a race, I think there were at least ten, with three once I’d arrived at the race site.

It was a bit lonely going by myself, usually our races start in the same place, even if David and I then don’t see each other again until the race is over.  Parking was free and in the field at the start which was good because I could leave my bag in the car, and could sit in the car until the start as it was a bit blowy and damp.  I collected my number, which wasn’t the best organised as there was a long queue, and went back to the car to prepare.  I decided to wear my trail shoes, although my ordinary running trainers would have been fine.  I decided to run with a bottle that I’d put some still Lucozade in.  I don’t usually bother with this but after my experience of my long 12 mile training run in the hot sun I thought it might help.  I was worried I would get fed up carrying it, but it was OK and I was glad I had it even if I was a bit sticky by the end.

Heading out of the Park

The race started with a short uphill at Butser (why not start how you mean to go on) before heading out through the park.  We hadn’t gone more than about two miles before the first steep hill, and that was pretty much how it continued for the whole thirteen miles.  When we turned out of Queen Elizabeth Country Park towards the village of Chalton, we had to queue to get over the stile, but once over it was gorgeous running down through the wheat fields.  From Chalton we headed along the Sussex Border Path, mostly up hill, until it met the South Downs Way, were we joined the marathon route.

Did the path level out here? Absolutely not, it was a continual up and down that was very hard going.  Two miles to go and we headed back into Queen Elizabeth Country Park up the most enormous hill.  This was tough, my glutes were hurting just walking up and I was tempted to even stop, but once at the top it was downhill back to the finish at the bottom of Butser Hill.  My target time had been 2 hours 40 minutes, and I was just outside this with an official finish time of 2:46:57 hours.  Considering that I walked up all the hills and ran the flats and downhills, this wasn’t too bad.  David came in from the marathon just behind me in a time of 4:09:51. fullsizeoutput_408

This was a really hard hilly course and probably not ideal for your first half marathon.  The hills was often steep and they were relentless, and some of the paths were very flinty which was hard underfoot.  I had no option but to walk the hills, I’m just not up to the standard of being able to run hills like that.  As such I found it a bit demoralising, walking after just two miles.  On a flat course I should have been able to run it all.  So I will try again and this time check out the elevation before I book.  Having said that it was a beautiful course running/walking through the Sussex/Hampshire countryside, most of it being off road.  The weather was good as it wasn’t too hot and the sun made occasional appearances.

My only injury seems to be a small blister on my left big toe.  Let’s hope it stays that way because I’ve just printed off my training plan for the York marathon in October – only 17 weeks away!  I’m using the same plan series as I used for the half marathon, Jane Tomlinson’s Marathon Training Plan for Beginners, as I found the half marathon plan straight forward and didn’t over load me.  So here we go again, and hopefully a flat half marathon will be added to the plan along the way.

Have a good week,




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