Fleet Half Marathon

Race Reports

Report by Huw Williams.

A couple of weeks ago I ran The Grizzly. 20 miles of hills, glorious sea views, river crossings and mud in South Devon. This was a race that, for me at least, how long it took really didn’t matter. It was a run for the pure pleasure of being able to run.

The Fleet Half Marathon was different. When I first joined a running club 30 years ago one of the coaches asked me if I had any running goals in mind. At the time I had just done a half marathon in something over 2 hours. I told him I’d like to run a half in under 2. I managed that and eventually eased it down to 1.37. Not fast but respectable.

Now, 30 years later I had the same ambition. Run a half in under 2 hours.

The race I chose was The Fleet Half Marathon. I had been a part of the organising team for this race for 15 years. Latterly I headed up the marshal team; coordinating 150 marshals across the 13 mile course with all the complications of traffic and road closures.

It’s said that one of the most effective ways to achieve a goal is to make it public. Unfortunately this is what I had done!

Standing at the start I was apprehensive. I knew this was a long way from being easily achievable.

But then I remembered. Kelly had sent me a training plan. I’d read it. I’d even thought about printing it off. I was as ready as I would ever be. Bring it on!

I knew I needed to average 9/min mile. The first 7 miles flew by nicely. 8.35, 8.40, 8.35, and so on. The problem is that I know all too well that this is foolish. But hey, after 7 miles I’ve got a few minutes in hand haven’t I?

The longer the race the more foolish this is. It comes back to bite you. And so it was to be.

Someone asked me once what I thought about when I was in a race. I told them, in all honesty, that all I have space in my brain for when I’m in a race is running. The next mile or kilometre, the next water stop or hill.

On top of that, when you’re working out splits in your head you can’t be daydreaming.  If you’ve decided on a split pace that isn’t a round minute you really are stuffed. Once I decided on 8.45/mile for a marathon. By the time you’ve calculated 9miles x 8 minutes + 9miles x 45 seconds you’re at the next mile marker. I know I can have my split times on a wristband but I sort of enjoy the mental juggling.

Anyway, back to the race. From 8 miles it did start to get a bit tough. 9.20, 8.50 then everything slower than 9/min mile.

What I really didn’t want was to have to finish the race with a sprint finish.

But that’s what happened. 400 metres to go I glanced down at my watch. I didn’t take the exact time in but knew I had more than 3 minutes but less than 4 minutes. 400 metres on a track will take me close to 2 minutes these days.

Bugger, I’ll have to sprint it!

As I crossed the line the clock clicked onto 2 hrs. But I was saved by technology. My finishing time was 1.59.19. I had finished with a full 41 seconds in hand!

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