When you go off plan and possibly the most unflattering race photo ever

I ran the Thames Meanderer half marathon last Saturday, and if I had to sum up my training and race, I would simply say that I went off plan.  Not that I had a superb plan to begin with, but I definitely got lost along the way.

First wrong turn – ‘not on quality street’

I spent too long building my base, not not enough time doing quality sessions in training – like hill runs, speedwork, and not enough time building up my distance.  So although 2 weeks out from the rate, my LSR was 19KM, it was a flat, very slow affair – that filled me with dread, as the ‘easy’ pace I was running felt anything but.

Next wrong turn – ‘Dream believer’

I couldn’t let go of the dream, and as I am relatively new to racing (this was my 3rd half marathon), I was eager for the PB (sub 1:50) hoping that miraculously I had it in me.  I didn’t have it in me, but on race day I persisted in running a few early KMs at a too fast pace – I paid dearly later.

Final wrong turn – ‘Fun was not had’

Is this the most unflattering race photo ever?

As realisation sunk in that the PB was out of reach (despite knowing this before I even started), I tried to enjoy it, but I couldn’t.  Then I hurt my heel – as a bit of gritty dirt got into my sock and wrecked my heel.  My little positive mantra – of just enjoy yourself – turned more into a ‘bloody hell, can’t I do this, I’m going to walk, I wont even go sub 2, I hate this, my pace is so slow’ – a proper moan fest.

The race report

On reflection, it was a good day out.  Everyone was so very friendly.  I truly appreciated the indoor race HQ, allowing you to calmly get your race number, have a seat and sort yourself out.  I met a lovely lady inside and we chatted away about jelly baby strategies, and the race organisers provided copious amounts of safety pins.  I said bye to my new friend and popped my bag in the bag truck, and queued for one of the 4 porta loos, which was still relatively clean by the time I got to it.

At the start, just before we unexpectedly shot off a few minutes early

The race briefing was peppy, and everyone was quite smily.  We started a minute or so early, which had me (along with quite a few other runners) panickly tapping away at their running watches to get the GPS connected.

The route was well marked and the water stations were well stocked with water, electrolyte drinks and Haribo. I knew the race route, so I knew ‘it’ was coming at the end.  That awful bit where you have run past the finish (and see everyone 10 minutes faster than you) and still have 2+KM to run, it is a little demoralising – and the headwind didn’t help.

The best thing about the race was all the lovely runners.  Very friendly and encouraging, and although their was a no headphones policy (I’m a music lover), my fellow runners made up for it in spades.  Plus the medal was pretty nice too.

Pretty little medal

Hermes Running puts on these Thames Meanderer, 3 times per year, so if you’ve missed this one, you can do the next one – on the 11th August.

Now, please share with me, have you ever gone off plan and had to struggle through a race?


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