Race Recap – Watford Half Marathon, 1st Feb

Slightly different angle on the blog. Less opinionated, more “I tolerate love running” like. In case you can’t tell, it’s not Kate writing this one! Feel free to skip or just to look at the pictures….

I’m in bed. I’m tired. I really want some chocolate Nesquik and some squash but I am too lazy to get out of bed. And I don’t think my sister will bring me anything.  But I survived, had a fabulous finish with my dad and just about avoided a complete breakdown at mile 12.5. Whether I’m happy with how it went or not is a different matter.

Watford is one of my ‘local’ races –  despite the fact I have now lived in Battersea for nearly 2 years, Herts is still home to me and always will be – and the timing falls in fairly well with my marathon schedule, giving me an opportunity to try a half near to MP to see if it’s actually possible for 13 miles, let alone 26.

Let’s take a look at the race profile.

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I mean I’d say that counts as a fair few ups and downs. And they aren’t lengthy, get into your groove type hills. Nope, they come up at you, slap you in the face and make themselves known. Short, sharp and steep. And frequent. It does make for a few downs that you can take at a FLYING pace but the elation is often short lived.

Pre race smiles

Pre race smiles

You start in Cassiobury Park, there’s loads of nearby parking, plus it’s fairly close to the Met line tube station. They actually split the starts – senior men and then ladies/men’s vets, but you probably join together again about .75 of a mile in. So not segregated for long.

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You then come out of the park just after mile 1, and loop round the surrounding roads for a while. I think my dad looks like a pirate in his Scotland buff…

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(Still way too happy at this point)

Afterwards, you drop out into country lanes at around mile 3. No pictures yet as my resident photographers/family cheering squad weren’t able to get out there as they hadn’t brought the bikes this time. You come down a slight decline once you’re over the canal and then it’s UP. This is repeated fairly often, slight decline, UP, slight decline, UP but there are a few proper UP/DOWNs once you get over the M25. It’s definitely scenic – I spotted a few red kites and I’d far rather bash around here than around London. There was a hill around mile 8 that was a real kick in the teeth however, with the slight change in route from previous years (to avoid MASSIVE flooding), we then cut through what is typically a private estate – a good mile downhill with a TAILWIND. I didn’t think these existed.

Around mile 11….guess who popped up behind me. My father. He’d even managed to breathe quietly on purpose so I didn’t know he was there! Considering I was supposedly in alright training state and he’d been moaning like anything this week about his fitness, it was actually a bit of a confidence knock for me in what was a massive boost for him.

I probably would have been less moany if I hadn’t had someone there to moan to, but I literally turned super pathetic and didn’t think I was going to finish. Around the 12 mile marker, I realised we weren’t going to slip inside 1:45 and I told him he wasn’t allowed to beat me! We made a pact to finish together (considering we are both fairly competitive, let’s see how this turned out) but I have now been told apparently this is unfair (on him)…..as if he had suggested it I would have told him to naff off.

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With the re-arranging of the course, you now enter the park exactly where you left it…which means from about 12.5 – 13 it is UPHILL. Now call me wimpy, but I nearly gave up at this point and am super glad I had someone to tell me to (wo)man up and grit my teeth. So at about 13, it (finally) flattens and I realised I did have room for a kick at the end. My dad was literally cursing me at this point and we crossed the line together. Official (chip though so I still win) results put him as a second faster than me as he must have crossed the start line just behind me. Bugger. But based on gun time, I won 🙂

Splits are as follows…I think I can spot my motivation drop/hill hatred.

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1:46:23, 8:04 average pace. I’m not sure if I am happy. There were some tears of frustration at the end. In 2013, I did it in 1:43, followed by a 3:35 VLM. Despite my dad’s reassurance that I’ve still got 12 weeks, I just don’t know how I feel about the 3:30 target and if I’m in the right shape for it. I remember being upset by the 1:43 and I don’t think that felt as hellish as today. However, I guess this is my first half in nearly two years and the last time I did Watford I was regularly training on similar hills (as opposed to my main hill being Wandsworth bridge…) so there is probably something to take from that.

I also need to give a special thank out to the lady from Mornington Chasers who was an absolute SUPERSTAR in kind words and motivation – both during and after the race. Apparently I’m considered ‘still young’ (YESSSSS!) and have a lot of potential. Also I got a nice green tech t-shirt. Massive thanks to Watford Harriers for putting it on, and all those who turned out to cheer (e.g. the people blasting ‘Keep on Running‘ out of their car)

PS Between the start and the end of writing this post I did actually get some orange and mango squash. But I still haven’t had lunch yet. Or got changed. Or had a shower. I’ve put on my race top and dressing gown.

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4 thoughts on “Race Recap – Watford Half Marathon, 1st Feb

  1. You will be fine for your 03:30 marathon target. 12 weeks to go, Watford is a tough course and it’s a way off yet. Just make sure you get your long runs to 21-22 miles at least 4 weeks out, then start to taper, and you will be fine. Don’t go more than 10 seconds faster than your target pace at London. Good luck.

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  2. Pingback: 2015 – a wrap up | These Girls Do

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