Last week my 10 mile race went very well, but I just kept thinking “What if it had been a half? I probably could have smashed my PB”. I do have a half coming up in March, but that’s 3 weeks before the Paris Marathon so it wouldn’t be a good idea to go all out on that race.
My marathon plan said I had to do around 24 km, but I don’t like training runs longer than 20k. It’s quite boring on your own running for over 3 hours. So, I decided that 21k would be close enough and that I should try to run a half marathon PB.
I bought someone else’s bib for the Groet uit Schoorl Run (yes, some race organisations allow you to transfer the bib, so the results are in your name, only the bib still has the wrong name on it). Meaning I’d be racing as Jitze. I’ve done this before with the Amsterdam Marathon event and I actually think it’s quite funny when people cheer me on with a different name. It’s like having a new identity for a few hours.
The only issue was that the day before I started developing a cough. So, I wasn’t sure if I should run the race. But the cough didn’t seem very persistent, so I decided to give it a go. But there aren’t that many runners who run the half at Schoorl (around 2400), so I knew I’d be one of the last runners and again I was afraid the organisation would insist on taking me out of the race. Especially if I would be going even slower due to catching a virus. Thus, I knew it was probably either going to be a PB or they’d be taking me out of the race.
I had trouble getting into the flow of things and that always makes distances seem longer. So, after 8 km I had to tell myself that I only had to do 8 more + another 5k. In the meantime I got lots of offers from people asking me if I wanted to run with them. Thanks, but no thanks. I can’t keep your pace. I always think it’s funny when people ask me if I’m alright (thinking that I’m either injured or not doing well for some other reason and that must be the reason I’m walking) and I answer with a very chirpy “I’m fine, thanks”. They always look very surprised, because that’s not really the answer they’re expecting. To be fair, I wear many layers during these races due to the cold and therefore I can’t wear my normal race shirt (which says “This is my race pace” on the front and “Slow runners make fast runners look good, you’re welcome…” on the back).
I managed to have at least a couple runners behind me until km 13, when there was a bike from the organisation behind me. He asked me if I was ok. I told him I was and that I still had time. He replied “Yes, there isn’t a problem. There are even a few ladies further behind you. Just wanted to make sure since you keep run-walking. Is it tougher than you expected?” “No, I’m doing fine”. He looked at me in surprise, but left me alone from then on.
The route loops through the dunes, which is fine in the beginning since it’s more hilly woods than real dunes, but at km 14 it turned into real dunes. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, unless it’s very windy and you get a free scrub along the way. Those weren’t very pleasant kilometers and it took a long time to get all the sand out of my hair afterwards.
I was fine until km 16, I ran roughly the same time as last week, and I only needed to keep the pace up for another 5k. But my energy started to run out and the muscle fatigue was slowly building. The last 4 km of the race felt a bit like the last 10 km of the Berlin Marathon. I kept calculating in my head that even if I slowed down, I’d still be able to get a PB. In the end I only slowed down around 10 seconds per km, I’m not sure how I managed that because I was really beat and I thought I would slow down a lot more. 7:40/km just isn’t an easy pace for me to keep up.
In the end I finished in 02:42:27! Which is a six and a half minute PB! Only downside was that at the finish line I didn’t get a medal, I got a towel instead. I’d much rather have had a medal to commemorate this PB than a gym towel. And afterwards I had to wait around for over an hour, since the only way to get back to the station was by the busses arranged by the organisation and those didn’t go during the start of the 10k.
Would I do this race again? Not the half, I might do the 10k in the future. The half race isn’t big enough for me, so I still end up running in the back without hardly anyone around me. And after the effort of running a half, I don’t really want a towel, I want a nice medal. And I don’t like having to wait around for more than an hour before I can get to the station. Would have been better if the organisation would have found a way for the busses to just keep going, like a slightly different route for either the busses or the 10k race.