The first half

Sitting on a flight to london and finally have time to update on the weekends race.
Last week I had taken it relatively easy. I ran 10 miles monday night, to make up for missing my long run on sunday. Then on tuesday night I did 10k in about 52 minutes… Which is only about 2.5 minutes off my best time.

Wednesday I took a day off, then thursday I ran 3 miles fast. Did the three miles in just 24 minutes… The fastest run I've done. When I analysed my garmin data later I discovered that my heart rate was in zone 5 (above 90% max) for 85% of the run. This gave me a real confidence boost and had me psyched for the run on saturday.

My sleep on friday night was a little unsettled as I was genuinely excited about the race. Saturday morning I woke at 6 and spent a few hours ganging out with my son and eating sensible foods like bread and bananas.

At 8.30 I headed to my friends house and we set out together for omagh.

Once we got there and picked up our numbers, we had plenty of time to hang around, warmup and stretch. The buzz around the registration area was pretty cool. As we lined up at the start line, I was impressed by the variety of participants. There was a 4 mile fun run occurring at the same time so we were lined up between young kids, older folks and very obvious athletes with their club kit, wraparound oakleys and armbands specifically designed for holding gels.

On that note I have to briefly digress and wonder… How many gels do you need for a 13 mile run? Seriously, I saw one girl that had an armband with about 6 in it. Is it really possible to use that many? Yuck! I had one bottle of double strength energy drink and that seemed fine for me.

Anyway, we got started and I set off at a decent enough pace. Bear in mind that this time last year I had never run in my life. When I decided I wanted to start running I was running 1 minute and walking one minute and it killed me. So… When I say a decent pace, I mean just under an 8 minute mile.

The course was pretty cool. Quite varied, and far from flat. I kept the pace up pretty well and by the time I hit the 10k mark I was very close to a pr for a 10k. This was when I started to think seriously about what sort of time I could manage.

I knew I could do it in under 2 hours. My personal target, and the training plan I had been following, was for sub 1 hour 50. I hadn't followed the plan that closely though and had skimped a little on the speedwork so I hadn't been that confident I would manage it. However, as I hit the 10k mark I was (for me) fast and still feeling good. So I tried to pick up the pace a little more to be consistently under 8 minutes per mile.

The toughest part was around the 11 / 12 mile mark where there was a long steady hill that looked like it was 13 miles long, and in reality was probably over half a mile. Once I got over this I really pushed and the last mile was probably my fastest of the race. When I saw the 400m to go sign I genuinely sprinted for the line.

I finished in 1 hour 45 mins and 16 seconds. This totally amazed me and I was genunely over the moon with this time. I had been playing around with a pace calculator and figured that to get this time basically requires an 8 min mile for 13.1 miles and I honestly didn't think I could do this. Somehow, I did. My friend had actually only come in about 2 minutes before me.

So, I've completed my first half marathon, set my PR and set the bar. Now all I have to do is improve it. Based on this I am going to have a target of 3 hours 45 for the dublin marathon in october. Its ambitious, but I've plenty of time to get there.

When I looked at my garmin data later I found that, like the 3 mile run a few days before, I actually ran 85% of the race in heart rate zone 5. I will also post the course map and profile later.

Finally, I had sat down the night before the race to program in a playlist for the run and the music really helped, so just for the hell of it, this is what I listened to as I ran. I had just downloaded the new NINJA (nine inch nails and janes addiction) ep and the new prodigy album and hadn't had a chance to listen to them yet, hence the high density of their tracks…

Bixby canyon bridge – death cab for cutie
Fallin – de la soul and teenage fanclub
Invaders must die – the prodigy (first song that made me speed up)
Chip away – janes addiction
That's what you get – paramore
Dawn of the dead – does it offend you, yeah?
Clap for the killers – streetsweeper
Battle royale – does it offend you, yeah?
Rocket queen – guns n roses
Non-entity – nine inch nails
The oath – streetsweeper
Complication – nine inch nails
Whores – janes addiction
Omen – the prodigy
Smack my bitch up – the prodigy
We're in this together – nine inch nails
Their law – the prodigy
Head like a hole – nine inch nails
Hearts burst into fire – bullet for my valentine (this is where I started running my ass off)
Every day is exactly the same – nine inch nails
We are rockstars – does it offend you, yeah?
Come and die – fatal and therapy?
And as I finished….
Going out of my head – fatboy slim.

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