March 4th 2019
Today I broke my half marathon PB during my lunch hour. Does that mean I did a half marathon in under an hour? No, of course not, don’t be ridiculous. It just means I’m fortunate to work in the kind of environment where running a half marathon at lunchtime is more encouraged than frowned upon.
It may not have been under an hour, but it was still a good time: 1:38:25.
That knocks eleven and a half minutes off my previous personal best, which I set a couple years ago at the Swansea half marathon.
When I set out today I aimed to beat 1 hour 40, for two reasons: First, a friend of mine has recently taken up running and he ran a half marathon in 1 hour 42, and I naturally had to beat him. So I did. Second, sub 1hr40 is a satisfyingly round number. 100 minutes.
To beat 1hr40 I had to average a pace of about 4:45 per kilometre. (A half marathon is 21 kilometres, for you imperial folks out there). On seventeen of the twenty-one kilometres, I ran faster than 4:45.
I was running with two other guys — one for the first half, and one for the whole thing — and our kind of unspoken game plan was to make up enough time in the first half, that we had extra time in the second half to fall back on if it got tough. That meant our first 5 kilometres was averaging closer to 4:30 than 4:45. For a while I was worried that we’d set off too fast, and that I’d begin to struggle in the later stages, and that made me want to slow down, but my new mindset when I’m running is to just run at what’s comfortable and not worry about how it’s going to feel later.
After that point, though, our pace was pretty consistently within the 4:40s, and because we’d banked a couple of extra minutes in the early stages, it was beginning to look like the sub 1hr40 was a serious possibility, and for me that mindset basically didn’t change for the duration of the run. I got to the ten-mile mark in an hour and twelve minutes. The ten-mile mark is usually where a half marathon gets difficult, but today I knew that even if I ran the remaining 5 kilometres at 5 mins/km, I would still beat my target time.
Just that knowledge was enough to keep me going. And although it did get a bit tough in the last kilometre — thought that was mainly due to the fact that we’d messed up the routing a bit and had to tack on an extra couple of loops around the same street just to clock the distance up — I beat my target pretty comfortably.
I beat 1hr40, and I beat my friend, and I beat my previous best by over ten minutes.
And I feel great for it. I’m properly chuffed with myself. I’m currently finding it quite difficult to walk down stairs, but that’s a small price to pay.
Until tomorrow, thank you to my pacers.