My ego hurts / Wokingham Half Marathon and what I learnt from it

I’ve got very mixed feelings about my race on Sunday. I’ll do a breakdown of the whole day but as you can tell by the title, it didn’t exactly go to plan..

Race morning

The start time was 10am and as I live next to Wokingham I didn’t have to get up that early. I think I only got up at 7am just so I could eat something and it not be bouncing around in my stomach when I was running. I’d already planned my outfit (I enjoy this bit way too much) so I didn’t have much to do in the morning apart from make sure my legs were working. Somehow I still managed to leave all my jewellery at home which made me feel naked but I borrowed my dad’s necklace anyway. It can’t be just me that feels weird without their daily jewellery on. Apart from that it was all clean sailing so I’ll fast forward to getting to the race.

There was a bunch of free parking at locations near the start line which was perfect and the walk there helped to loosen up the legs a bit. The ‘race village’ was a decent size considering how small the event actually is and there were quite a lot of toilets. Obviously not enough though, because no amount of toilets would be enough for there not to be a giant queue for each one. Luckily I went a couple of times in the build-up so having to ditch the queue just before the race started didn’t cause me any issues.

The race

I’m not sure what it was like previous years but the start line was absolutely rammed. Fitting 2000 people on a tiny strip of road was never really going to be fun. My initial goal was incredibly optimistic and some might say stupid. I wanted a sub 1:40 at least and maybe even 1:38.. I positioned myself between the 1:35 and 1:40 pacers in the hope that I’d cling onto the pacers if I had to. I soon realised that was a mistake because my first mile was a lot quicker than it should’ve been. I’d read so many hints and tips posts saying not to do this but it’s actually really hard not to, especially when you feel good.

I think, don’t quote me on this, but I think there was a slight incline early on which I wasn’t expecting and I tried to keep my pace up so that didn’t do me any good. The course is loved by so many but if I’m honest, I didn’t really like it. If you’re floating along with really good form and loving life, yes it would be the perfect course. However, I was struggling from about mile 4 onwards so the long straight roads were messing with my head and I eventually lost the battle. Apart from the motorway bridges there isn’t much else going on with the course. I’ll put my splits below so you can see my journey from a huge PB, to a tiny PB that doesn’t even feel like one.

Up until the mile 10 marker and the final motorway bridge, I was still just about on track for 1:40. I was dying inside and had seen the 1:40 pacer creeping up on me for the last 2 miles. When he eventually reached me, I told him I’d need to stick with him and he did a good job at encouraging me. However, my legs were gone, my head was gone and the dream of 1:40 just slipped away from me, along with the pacer. Once I knew I wasn’t going to get the time I wanted, my mental state just collapsed, I was 3 miles from the finish line with near to zero energy. You’d think that it’d be easy to just run a 5k and then you’ll be holding your medal with a coke in your hand. Nope, it didn’t quite go like that. I tried to tell myself that it’s just a 5k but I physically couldn’t get my legs to do what I wanted them to. It’s a position I haven’t been in since training properly and I hope it never happens again. I’d say I probably walked about a mile over the whole race and I really wish I hadn’t had to.


The last mile

When we got to the 12 mile marker, I turned to a guy next to me and asked him if he would get me to the finish line. What I didn’t know, was that he was struggling just as much, if not more than me. We ended up helping each other to the finish line and fair play to him because I tried to walk and he didn’t let me. That’s probably my favourite part of the race, a guy I’ve never met before, helping me run and then thanking me at the finish for helping him.

After the race

I was absolutely gutted when I finished. I wanted that sub 1:40 so bad and I know I have it in me. I felt really light headed after the race which was probably something to do with the heat and also just having no energy at all. So, my mum went and grabbed me the holy grail of post-race drinks.. a full fat coke. Whilst she was off getting me a coke I had the essential medal photo accompanied by a PB sign, which felt weird. Then I finally met @matthewruns_ in person who made me feel slightly sick by telling me his marathon pace. I’m an extremely awkward person socially so I think I did pretty well by not saying anything weird or stupid.

After that, there wasn’t anything to hang around for so we started the walk back to the car. At this point my calves were destroyed, which is a bi-product of running slowly with bad form in the Vaporfly 4%. I had said to myself that as a reward for getting a sub 1:40 I’d get a fat burger king and then write my time on the back of my Vaporfly’s, however, that didn’t happen so I opted for just the burger king. This isn’t a race I want to remember so the next opportunity for a Vaporfly worthy time is the Reading Half in March.  

What I’ve learnt

This race actually taught me a lot. I think the main thing I’ll take from it is to judge every race differently and accept that sometimes, things happen and you can’t always be 100% fit and ready for the run. I was ill in the week before the race and thought that after a good run on the Thursday, I was ready for a big PB. Obviously that was wrong and I should’ve lowered my expectations and aimed for a smaller PB, maybe not even a PB.

Another thing I’ll take from the Wokingham half is to just appreciate that I have the opportunity to run and take part in events like this. I saw so many posts on Instagram about people’s PB’s and finishing times, which then made me realise that I was being a spoilt brat complaining about my ‘small PB’. Yes I could’ve done better and I was really disappointed with how it went, BUT, I still finished the race and have no injuries and life goes back to normal.

I also learnt a few of the cliché things like not going off too fast, eating enough in the morning and making sure your starting position is accurate.

Thanks

To finish this very long post, I want to thank everyone who either said good luck to me or congratulated me after the race. It was a crazy amount of people and it does make a difference. It also made me realise that I don’t do that sort of thing enough to other people. Also, big ups to my mum, my dad and Alice for coming to the race with me and supporting me.

If you made it through this whole post, we’re now best mates. Peace

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