Marathon training was temporarily suspended (with six weeks to go) to run the Bath Half marathon. My coach thought I could get a PB and had me training at around 1:33 pace, but I wasn’t convinced. I hadn’t done any half marathon specific training and while I feel pretty good about my marathon pace, I didn’t have a clue about my half marathon pace and wasn’t feeling it.
Still, I took on board the pace he wanted me to run (I deal in metric so was looking to stay around 4:25 min/km) and toed the line with that in mind. I very nearly did toe the line too, this was the furthest forward I have ever started the Bath Half, having finally made it into the back of the white (first and fastest) pen.
It was the most congested I have seen the first mile or so, there was a lot of dodging around slower people and people running together taking up space, but I managed to get into a nice rhythm eventually and was having to hold myself back (especially with the downhill start). Coming along the A4 at around the 9km mark I almost got taken out by someone walking across the road with a bag of cans shouting out ‘Stella, Stella’, alas the marshals were on the other side of the road to him and I can only hope he didn’t actually take anyone out.
While the first half felt pretty comfortable, the second half of the race was more of a struggle. About 14km in I had a 4:32 minute km (though I was going uphill and if you look at the GAP it was a 4:23 minute km) and it was a struggle to get back on terms in the next km, then it happened again and once more I had to push to get back on target. With 6km to go I was just working on getting to the next km split on target, and kept going like that to the end of the race.
The weather was warmer than it should be for mid-March and I was glad I had opted for crop top and shorts (good to test them out ahead of London too in case it is similarly warm, though I will have to see if the red hair dye washes out first), but I was very glad of the final water station about 800m from the finish. Most of the water went over my head as I pushed to try and get home faster than my time from Bristol last year (1:34:20). If you look at my heart rate data you can see how much of a struggle the final kms were compared to the first few and I think some of that was probably heat related (must remember to pack a visor and sunglasses for London where there are mericfully more frequent water stations).
I managed a half-hearted sprint for the line after that nasty final hill, crossing it with a chip time of 1:33:04, a new PB by just over a minute (I guess coaches do know what they are talking about). This put me in 813th position overall and 14th in my age category. This was 6 minutes and 53 seconds faster, 816 positions higher overall and a 22 place improvement in my age category over last year. Job done.