Running events are back. On 3rd April 2021 I took part in my first event of the year. It feels so strange, considering I got to the point of running around 30 events a year. I have to admit, I’ve missed running races, and it was great to be back at the start line.
There is a very different atmosphere at the start of events these days. I’m used to meeting groups of friends, and spending time together. But as we adapt and remain covid safe, there is much more social distancing, face masks, and alcohol gel. Run-through have done a great job in getting their events covid ready, and it felt safe. There was plenty of room in the event village, alcohol gel, good signage and a friendly vibe.
At the start it was very cold and I left it until the event warm up to drop my bag. I had thought it looked particularly quiet, and thought perhaps this was because there was a Marathon, Half Marathon, 10k and 5k all starting at different times. However, about 10 minutes before the start people came from the car park and toilet area, and the usual crowd arrived. This was well organised and we were invited to the start line according to predicted finish times. They called 75 minutes, 80 minutes and 85 minutes and barely anyone moved to the start. When sub 90 minutes was called there was a lot of movement, and this is where I placed myself.
There were two rows of cones which were spaced two metres apart and we all stood at a cone. When the race started runners were released 4 at a time, and then the next group was invited forward. We went off about 5 seconds between groups and this process was quick and painless. I must have started after about a minute, and it was the best of both worlds. I was close enough to those in front to join a solid group, but it provided enough space to be able to set off and achieve social distancing.
I was clear before I started that I aimed for 90 minutes. I am working towards a sub 3 marathon and I have not ran this fast in a long time. I wanted to keep it nice and steady and provide myself with confidence that I could hold the sub 3 pace for the half marathon and see how it felt. As we started I tucked behind a small group of runners and they were running 6:35 minute miles. This was 20 seconds a mile faster than I intended, but it felt comfortable, so I thought I would see how it felt.
The funny thing is, I used to be able to run a lot faster, but would tire over longer distance. At the moment I haven’t ran a 5k or 10k at a faster pace, but I felt able to hold onto that pace for the half marathon, and beyond, my endurance is good. The course was 4 laps around the race track. It was really flat, but it was cold and windy, so for half the course we were running into a head wind, and it was noticeably harder. I think without the wind I could have taken a minute or two off my time.
It felt so comfortable that I was tempted to try and push a little harder, but I didn’t want to risk having to slow, so I just maintained the pace. The group I was following slowly dropped off, I took the lead and slowly pulled away.
I entered the 3rd lap as the 10k runners were starting which gave me some other faster runners to target. In the last lap I found the wind was a little tough, but I only dropped my pace about 5 seconds a mile.
I had a fantastic first race back. Run-through organised a great race, and despite the wind, I had a perfect run. This run has filled me with confidence for my sub 3 attempt, but also made me feel like I want to go and push a half marathon some time soon to see what I’m capable of. Today I achieved 1:26:54, but a sub 1:25 feels realistic. So watch this space.
For now I am preparing for my huge 11 marathon in 11 days challenge in May. I am raising money for Cancer Research and I have designed and purchased medals, so would love you to set yourself a challenge and join me for the #FunbusMarathon. Please check out my event, join the #Funbus and share with your friends.