Watford Half Marathon 2020

On the 2nd February 2020 I took part in the Watford Half Marathon. This is the 3rd time I have taken part in the Watford Half, and the 3rd time I have been the sub 1:40 pacer at Watford Half (click HERE for my review from 2018). Unfortunately the Watford Half Marathon 2019 was cancelled because of the snow, and it was a shame to miss out on this event. Fortunately I was able to get an entry for the London Winter 10k at short notice (check out the review for London Winter Run 10k HERE). This is the 84th event I have taken part in as an official pacer. It is my 45th half marathon as a pacer and my 28th time pacing for Xempo.

#flatlay for #watfordhalf

I had a bit of a bad start for the Watford Half this year. I am usually very organised, and as always I got all my kit together. We stayed at my in laws the night before, and when I got all my kit together I didn’t have time for my #flatlay. I knew I had everything, but I had put on my oofos to wear afterwards. As I packed the car and got the kids together, I left assuming I had all my kit. I always wear my trainers, and it felt like I was wearing them. It was only after driving for 2 hours that I realised, I was still wearing my oofos. My Brooks GTS 20 were still sat by the back door.

Xempo pacers ready to go

Obviously I was a little panicky, and a 4 hour round trip to pick up my shoes wasn’t really an option. So I took to social media, but everyone I know has smaller feet it would seem. Kirsty managed to find someone who was a marshal and offered me a pair of size 10, life saver.

Nervous waiting for trainers

I wasn’t my usual happy self on race morning as I was waiting for my trainers and very nervous not having them. I had a backup plan of a smaller pair, and they dropped out last minute so I was nervous at 10:00, half hour before start, with no trainers. Alas, Vicky the marshal came through and I had a pair of size 10’s to run in.

Ready to start

The Watford Half is a local event organised by the Watford Harriers. It has a real club feel to it, well organised for runners, but very basic. This isn’t an event to come to if you want all the thrills. You get a nice little medal, and basic tee, with water in cups on course and at the finish. There is no finishers bag, but this is not the focus, it’s just a good quality run.

Ready to start on the 1:40 #funbus

The start is split in two, and we merge after about half a mile. I had a good little group, not the most talkative at the start, but they pulled together throughout the run. I talked at the start about the course, having ran it twice before I was able to talk about the insulation. It really is a hilly course, I’ve had much worse courses, on the most part this course isn’t too bad. It always feels like you are either on an up or down, but there are only about 3 hills that are particularly challenging. I run the course at effort, the aim is to ensure that we average 7:37, but make the most of the downhill so we can run at effort and take it easy up the hills. The first mile is a long gradual decline, which I know you have to climb at the finish. So I let us go a bit faster doing a 07:15 first mile. When I merged with my fellow pacer he was about 200 metres ahead. I was happy that I was on pace so I kept the gap between us. He paced well ahead of me, as we maintained similar distance throughout. There was a difficult hill on mile 5, then Deadmans Ash at around 6 miles which is a sharp climb. Those hills were testing, and I dropped to 9 and even 10 min miles, but it was fine as what goes up must come down. On the down hills we got to around 7 min miles at times, but it was great to see the same faces around me. Often you lose people and pick up others, but today we had a dozen that stayed the distance.

We stayed around 20 seconds ahead the whole course. Towards the finish I was trying to get everyone to stay with me and #pickupthepace so I increased my pace to encourage everyone to stay with me for 1:40. At the end I had a good few runners there coming in for a hug, that’s what it’s all about. Knowing that you have made a difference to peoples race. The more challenging the course, the more satisfying it is.

The medal shot, official time 1:39:34

The final mile is a bit of an incline and I kept shouting at people to get ahead of me. I came in with an official time of 1:39:34. I’m happy with that, and so were everyone around me.

Finished and happy runner

Next week the pacing continues at Miami Marathon. I can’t wait to take the sub 4 #funbus to become #miamifamous. What are you doing next? Let me know.