Preston Guild Half Marathon – Sunday 28th October 2012
Ah, Preston. My hometown. It’s not the prettiest city, nor is it the most exciting, but it is home for me. So when I found out that there was to be a marathon held in celebration of the 2012 Preston Guild how could I say no?!
In case you’re wondering, the Preston Guild dates back to 1179 and is the only Guild still celebrated in the UK. During the last Preston Guild, in 1992, a little 6 year old version of myself dressed up in a belly dancer outfit (I still don’t know why I was in a belly dancer outfit) that my nana had made me and proudly marched the streets in one of the Guild processions. My little brother dressed up as an orange. His best friend dressed as a bunch of grapes. They ran around holding hands looking absolutely adorable. What a time to be alive!
I don’t remember too much of the 1992 Preston Guild, since I was so little, but I do remember that it rained. It also rained on Sunday when I took to the streets to take part in the Preston Guild Half Marathon.
As you may know, I had originally signed up to run the full marathon, but a mixture of training fatigue and sore legs caused me to downgrade to the half marathon instead. When I saw the rain on Sunday morning I was quite pleased with this decision.
My training for the half had gone really well. I’d had 12 weeks of near-perfect training, incorporating a lot of speedwork and hills, some good quality long runs, and a decent amount of strength and flexibility work. I’d managed to PB at the Ealing Half Marathon in 1:55:28, so that was the time to beat.
Due to the miserable rainy conditions on Sunday I did most of my “warming up” in Cassandra’s Cafe in the Guild Hall shopping centre with my parents and boyfriend. I ventured out to the starting line at the last possible minute, and as a result I ended up right at the back of the pack. I could see the “over 2 hours” pen far ahead in the distance – not off to a good start! We got underway precisely at 10am, a relief as I was losing the feeling in my fingers and toes due to the chilly and wet conditions.
The first mile of the race was predominantly downhill, and I spent most of it weaving around people trying to move through the pack. Luckily, as there were only around 2000 people running the half, this wasn’t too difficult, and by mile two I was in a good position.
The plan was to run steadily at 8:30 minute/miles. I knew this might be difficult. 8:30 pace is right on the edge of my comfort zone right now. There was a chance I could detonate around the 10 mile mark, but I had to have a go if I stood a chance of getting close to my 1:50 target.
During this half marathon I did something that I never, ever, ever do in a race. I listened to music. Being plugged in to my iPod resulted in a completely different race experience to any I’ve had before – and I’m not sure I liked it. I felt totally cut off from all the other runners, as well as the spectators. It certainly didn’t help that the lashing rain made it difficult to look around, but I think I’ll stay unplugged in future races.
The race route comprised two out-and-backs, and unfortunately the route was pretty unscenic. For the most part I felt like I was just running along a dual carriageway. There are a lot of very pretty parks in Preston, and it was a shame not to take them in along the route.
I went to some dark places during this race. At mile 4 I got a side stitch so bad that I thought I was going to have to start walking. And at mile 8 I started having horrible stabbing pains in my shoulder. There were other moments when I felt great, but they were brief. This race was a bit of a battle. In the end, I just got my head down and ploughed onwards.
By the end of the race my legs felt similar to how they felt at the end of the London Marathon! I just wanted to have a good sit down. But I managed to push on right until the end, and ended with a sprint finish. I crossed the line in 1:54:18 (official).
At around mile 9 it was clear that the mile markers were out of sync with what my Garmin was telling me by about quarter of a mile, and sure enough the half marathon was over distance by my watch. I’ve since looked online, and it appears that an error with the positioning of an out-and-back turn means that the race was about 0.3 miles longer than it should have been. Annoying, but these things happen.
Not feeling (or looking) my best!
I’m really pleased with my PB, but would have loved to have been a bit closer to 1:50. This race has just made me more determined to get there though – I know I can! But not anytime soon – for now I’m going to scale back the training a little bit and recover properly before getting stuck in to training for the Edinburgh Marathon in January.