The #icelollyrun set in the middle of June, you would expect it to be hot. I paced St Albans Half for the first time last year, and it was miserable. It rained heavily before the start, and there were showers throughout the run. This year there was a vastly different experience, the weather was beautiful; hot and sunny.
This was the 2nd time I have paced St Albans, the 33rd event I have paced and the 15th time I have paced for Xempo, supported by Tomtom. As always I got my kit ready the night before to make sure I had all my essentials, including my Pacepocket, Racecheck visor, CEP compression socks, belt to carry my phone and a pack of meatsnacks for after the event. I picked out my Xempo top, although was given a team tomtom top to wear, and I opted for my adidas boost today.
I arrived nice and early as always so I could meet the fellow pacers, and chat with everyone who came to say hello. It felt really busy at the start, but it was great to catch up with everyone.
Before long it was time to get the pacers together and have a photo before we went to the starting pens. During this time Dan from Xempo did short video interviews with us, I was the test dummy who went first, and that is my excuse if I sound awful.
I made my way to the start with Naomi who was not only my fellow 1:40 pacer this year, but paced this course and time with me last year. You are funnelled onto a long stretch of grass and there was a big crowd ready to start with us.
The route is mostly wide and easy to navigate, taking some narrower paths towards the end. It is a lovely scenic route taking in the countryside, and a nice course to do. I have heard a fair few people say it is undulating, I disagree, I think it’s bloody hilly. It does feel like we were going down hill more often than up, with long gradual down hills and shorter sharp uphills. Nevertheless it felt like we were always on a hill. This is a very challenging course.
The heat played a big part in this event, and throughout people were dropping with the heat. The race organisers had clearly tried to tackle this with water stations every mile, which was great. Unfortunately the water was provided in cups, and frankly wasn’t enough. I was struggling with the heat and potential dehydration, and so was Naomi, so it would have been much harder for those pushing themselves to their limits. The volunteers could just not keep up with the demand for water, so on a few of the stops I didn’t get water. At one time a walker stopped right in front of me and took the water I was heading for, the next pulled it away as I approached. I grabbed the water from the 3rd and the 4th and final volunteer at this station knocked it back out of my hand… another stop without water. I’m a big believer that events should have individual bottles of water, easier to hand out, and more in bottle. On a hot day like today it’s even more important because there just isn’t enough water in the cup.
The mile markers where mostly in the right place which is good. Although the course was rather remote, so lacked supporters, there were still people out there to give us support. The finish is mostly downhill after the final hill at about 11 miles and there is great support at the finish line. As you finish you make your way to the event village which is really good, and great for family and friends. You are given a quality top, medal, goody bag and an ice lolly.
It was a tough day in the office. We found it hard, and struggled like everyone else. But we held a strong pace, giving us a bit of a cushion at the start using the downhills so we were able to support people uphill and not lose too many people.We gave ourselves a minute cushion over the first 5 miles and maintained it, then over the last mile and a half we eased off a little. We picked lots of people up during the last half a mile and come over the line in 1:39:59, spot on.
We were fortunate this year to be given VIP tickets. These can be purchased separately and included Breakfast, lunch, cakes, and a beer. So I made my way to the tent to try the delights on offer.
After a tough day in the office and a couple of beers I made my way back to the xempo tent to say goodbye to the guys. It was overall a really lovely day. Only downside was the water in cups, which to be honest wouldn’t have been much of an issue if it was cooler weather. Event in the middle of June, we should expect that it might be hot?! This is a fun event for the whole family, and includes a 5k race, a walkers half marathon and has a superb race village.
To top things off I managed to collect the final points needed for fitness rewards to get max points. I’m well on my way to platinum status which means more cash back and better rewards. Find out more here.