My first half marathon was the 25th Bristol Half in 2013, which I completed in 1:53:55. This year’s half marks my 5th race over this distance, the third time on this course. Last year I ran it in 1:49:43, coming back from a hamstring tear. This year I was aiming for 1:45:00 (or more accurately 1:44:59) after a good showing at Bath earlier in the year, lots of marathon training and weekly track sessions with Bristol & West. There were some other runners from the club also going for this time, so Alan agreed to pace us around and the 1:45 train set off in yellow pen of the first wave.
The target pace was 8:00 min/mile and the traffic wasn’t particularly bad, so we were able to hit, maintain, and exceed that pace pretty much from the start. We were overtaking more people than were overtaking us, engulfing them in a wave of red and white vests. As Alan was running well within his capability he was able to spot club members both ahead of us (most we caught and passed) and on the other side of the Portway or in the crowds lining the route. A popular and well-known local runner he also got a lot of shout outs which were great for the morale of the train.
No-one else was calling the ‘ogggies’ in the tunnel, which is something I like, so I did it on the way out (and Scott, another member of our train called it on the way back). The race itself was pretty uneventful. We kept to our pace, we encouraged other runners we knew, they and the crowd encouraged us, we waved at Rich taking photos from the bridge (not that bridge). We lost Scott around mile 9 to cramp and Dan was flagging in the last mile. My back didn’t hurt like it normally does in the last few miles, nor did my hip flexors, so maybe I’m getting stronger or my form is better or both. I didn’t quite have it to sprint over the line like Isie and Alan did (but did get blocked a little at that point anyway), but was very happy with my time.
Officially (and provisionally) my time was 01:42:45, putting me in 1,544th overall and 28th in my age category. And I got a medal and a t-shirt to go with my new pb.