Last Sunday marked the completion of a full 12 months of racing. True, I had done a 10k and even a 10 mile before November but Marlow Half marathon 2013 marked the beginning and end of a fairly simple journey. To see if I could run a half marathon 25 years after my first one; and to see how much further I could go.
This week I returned to try Marlow Half again.
Marlow Half Marathon 2014 is awesome. I had run Abingdon Marathon 3 weeks before so wasn’t expecting much. The nature of the course (total elevation 2100 feet) means it is never going to be a PB race. It is pretty much a series of hills with Rotten Row at about 8 miles the killer 280 ft climb.
The day started out lashing with rain and continued on and off until the start. It starts with a mile and a half climb followed by a couple of ups and downs before an uphill stretch to the highest point at 5 miles. Its then a 3 mile downhill stretch (of various steepness) until you hit the bottom of Rotten Row for the beast of a hill.
I was running with my brother at the start and we’d agree that all we wanted to do was better our times from last year (me 1.51, him 1.48). In order to do that we wanted to go a bit quicker than 8 minute miles to have a bit in store for the hills. Our first 4 miles were around 7.40 so all was going well. However, at mile 5 I’d lost him and, as he isn’t great on the downhills, I kicked on hoping he’d catch up on the flatfish bits.
The weather was great, a bit of rain but no wind and pretty cool so I kicked on downhill doing a 6.43 and 7.17 before hitting the flat and a 7.23 to mile 8. Rotten Row was as bad as I’d remembered but I kept running and overtook a few people there. A couple more miles of “undulations” and I had finally run out of hills and knew, with 2 miles to go, it was all down hill. Last year I hadn’t taken advantage of the gentle down hill run-in but I was determined to put that right. Happily there was someone I could race against close by so we started to stretch each other. Mile 12 was 7.04 and as soon as we hit the mile marker we both went for it.
I can’t describe the feeling as I have never raced against someone at any distance especially not at the end of a half marathon. It was exhilarating, annoying, knackering and so much fun! We must have passed about 20 people in that last mile as we matched each others pace but as we got 200m from the finish he put the power down and destroyed me. I managed to take two more runners before the line and came in 1.36.59. That final mile I did in 6.16, the fastest I’ve ever run a mile. Bro came in 1.44 courtesy on a dual exactly the same as mine, so we’d both had a pretty good day. Can’t wait to be back next year.
Oh, and the medal was awesome and the HOODY just brilliant.
Running photo courtesy of http://www.oxonraces.com