I’ve loved training with Kayleigh this year. She finished her first half marathon last year in an admirable 2hrs 13mins – the notoriously busy Great North Run – but it was obvious to anyone that ran with her that she was capable of a much faster time. She loved track training and running fast over shorter distances, yet she complained that she couldn’t translate this speed into her long distances. She knew that she needed to build up her confidence and that she needed to practise ‘feeling’ her pace, and so she faithfully attended track training sessions with our club, ran hilly threshold sessions through the winter, and faced her fears with me in a 13 mile practise run.
We run at very similar paces, but have very different attitudes towards our running. Whereas I have to coax myself through the last few miles of a half marathon with rewarding short walks at each km/mile marker (like a stroppy toddlerbeing coaxed around the supermarket), Kayleigh has a grim faced determination that I really do envy.
So. Kayleigh. You’ve been pretty quiet about your target in Berlin – all I knew was that you wanted to get as close to 2 hrs as possible… Now is your chance to show off – how did you do?
Drum roll please … I ran the 32nd Vattenfall Berlin Halbmarathon in … 2.04.51 – which I am absolutely over the moon about. Despite being a few minutes over my 2 hour target, its still over 9 minutes quicker than I ran the Great North Run Half Marathon in September last year.
How did you feel during the race?
Better than I thought I would. I was concerned I would have some problems with my stomach, but come race day the only thing jittering in my tummy were nerves, and even they didn’t last long! After the first 0.5km I was settled in and comfortable, running just over 9 min/mile for a good 8 miles until I began to feel tired for a couple of miles, then very tired for the remaining 3 miles.
What parts of your training do you think came into play during the race?
All of it! I found I benefited hugely from my last couple of track sessions (helping me find my pace) and my last long run (helping me conquor distance nerves).
What was your race highlight?
That’s a toughie, there were so many! The course was pretty amazing and luckily I was running at a pace where I could spot sections of the Berlin Wall and take in Checkpoint Charlie, and of course running through the Brandenburg Gate was a delight. Also spotting people having a damn good time whilst running in what felt like a pretty serious race, in particular the long haired gentleman really going for it with the air guitar whilst running past a rowdy rock band really tickled me! Oh, and whilst putting in a last huge surge of effort with 400m to go hearing my name bellowed from the crowd and spotting two beaming faces gave me that final push!
Did you have a low point during the race?
Not really. There was a point about 12 miles in where I was really feeling it, but its all part and parcel of what I’ve been training hard for – and the fact that I found it so tiring helps me realise how hard I was working, so I can’t really call it a low point!
What did you think of the race organisation?
The finish was a bit of a shambles, and at times the crowd weren’t respecting the runners (crossing in front of us, swelling onto the road to take pictures, etc), but on the whole, fine!
How did you enjoy racing abroad? Would you do it again?
It was great – such an experience. And the few days holiday after the race was a brilliant bonus. I did miss a few home comforts, but I’d definitely be up for racing abroad again. Especially in Germany, its a pretty friendly place and about the only language I can get to grips with!
How did you enjoy training for a race with other people?
Not only was it enjoyable – it was essential for me! Training with the club, parkrun and friends has been hugely beneficial in terms of encouragement and confidence, and also helping me realise how much I’m improving (9 minute PB people …. its big!)
Anything else you would like to add/shout about???
I know you’ve already said it, but huge congratulations to our whole group. And (not to sound too sappy) thanks to each of you for making it a massively enjoyable and rewarding couple of days.
Next year …. Yes?!
Yes Kayleigh, next year for sure!