Derby Ramathon Half Marathon

Whilst I've done a few 10k and off road races in the last few months I wanted to test myself on a half marathon to see how I fared on a longer race.  Back in 2007/08 I did four half marathons but always felt I never really cracked the event with my time of 1.20.29 being pretty poor considering my level of fitness back then.  Roll on 2016 and I was not sure how I would do as I've done relatively few races in recent months so didn't have much to benchmark against.  I knew that barring a total disaster my pb was likely to be broken and when I entered the Ramathon I put 1.18 as my estimated time.  In all honesty though I thought circa 1.15 might be a possibility, but then so could 1.20 if I had a poor race or seemingly not being as fit as I think I am!

As I was in the front pen I knew I would get a reasonable starting position and I started a couple of rows off the front and try to get into race pace straight away rather than legging it with everybody else.  After the first 200 metres I was probably about 30th and already moving through the field.  Its a strange feeling trying to keep off the gas and I had no idea whether I was running within myself or not.  After the first mile I had moved into about 18th and everybody was already strung apart.  The first mile was done in 5.37 which was sub 75 min pace, so either I had a quick first mile going with everyone else and was going to pay for it later or I was fitter than I think I was, or something in the middle by having a quick first mile and settle into a more routine pace over the next few miles.

About 2 mins before the start - race number 38!

The start, I can just be seen in the circle towards right of shot.

And another, this time a pic published in the Derby Telegraph

I continued my pacing and happened to do a second mile in 5.37 as well.  At this point I was beginning to wonder whether sub 75 minutes might be a possibility.  The third mile split was 5.37 as well - talk about even pace!  I cant say I felt good but at the same time didnt feel terrible.  I was still moving through the field but people were very spread out at this stage - I was about 13th but from this point onward the gaps to people in front were getting bigger and bigger.

Between the third and fourth mile was a water station but I decided not to bother as I didn't feel I needed liquids.  It was also around this point that I was running just behind another runner and we were more or less at the same pace over up to mile 9.  Occasionally I would move ahead for a bit, but for the most part he was slightly ahead of me.

Mile 4 was done in 5.35 and now I was seriously thinking that sub 75 must be a possibility but was all dependent upon whether the wheels would fall off later in the race.  Mile 5 in 5.43 was my first mile that started to concern me - whilst still bang on 75 minute pace, it was quite a bit slower than my first few miles and I knew I didn't have enough time in the bank for later on in the race.  By this point I was now 10th and very slowly catching up a runner ahead.

Mile 6 was done in 5.36 which relieved me a bit as it showed my pace was not slowing down as I had feared.  Perhaps the earlier mile was a little bit uphill or the mile marker was out position but again I had banked a few more seconds in reserve for later on - at this point I had 33 seconds in reserve.  It was about this point there was another water station but again I decided not to bother but did grab a gel just to top myself up a bit.

Mile 7 was done in 5.39 and now I was beginning to seriously think about sub 75 being achievable.  I knew I was starting to puff a bit now so was just hoping the wheels would not fall off.  Mile 8 followed in 5.40 so I was now 40 seconds ahead of target.  The other runner I was with had now caught the person ahead and I temporarily hit 8th but for the most part I ran behind the pair of them in 10th.  Mile 9 was done in 5.35 (48 seconds ahead) and was thinking that if I could just have one more mile at a decent pace it would probably be enough for sub 75.

The sun by now was starting to come out and I found it a little too warm for my liking and at the same time I could feel my legs getting heavy.  The chap I had been running with started to move away and then the runner we had caught slowly started to move away as well.  I then went through mile 10 in 6.06 - disaster!  In the space of 1 mile I had lost half of the margin I had built up in the previous 9 miles.  Knowing how my legs felt I thought the only thing that could save me now was a misplaced mile marker - deep down though I knew my legs had pretty much had it.

Mile 11 was completed in 5.37 so maybe the mile marker had been misplaced a little so had now got 31 seconds to play with.  But my legs were getting worse and worse and I could feel my pace had fallen off a lot.  I had also mentally paid a price, I couldn't really figure out what if any time I still had in hand and all I could hope for was to be in contention in the last mile and try to do something special.  Unfortunately mile 12 was done in 6.20, so now I was 6 seconds behind schedule.  75 mins half marathon time had now come and gone.  I then averaged the final mile and a bit at 5.54 pace so whilst I had increased my pace a bit, I had still dropped time in the last mile to finish in a time of 75.15.

Just before the finish - when the official race pics get posted I will load them!  I would like to have made claim that the blurry shot was because I was running so quickly but alas this was not the case!

To be honest I thought I was far further back off 75 minute pace than my actual finishing time.  I thought I was probably around 75.30 - 75.45.  I finished fairly disappointed as 75 minutes is a real barrier between being a decent half marathon time and a very good half marathon time.  I kept thinking that had I knew I was relatively close I could probably have done something, but truth was I was knackered and didn't want to increase the pace not being able to see Pride Park stadium.  That said, it is a massive PB by some 5 minutes 14 seconds so I shouldn't complain.  I suppose when you get so close to achieving that benchmark time its almost hard not to be disappointed.  Its clear I have the pace but need to ensure I do more long runs - a Saturday 13 mile run is just not enough so explains why my stamina is not really there for the latter part of the race.

After the finish.

Unfortunately as I write this my experience of the event has been slightly tarnished by the fact that I've been completely omitted from the results that have been already been published online.  I have dropped the race organisers a quick message and the same to the chip timing providers.  Clearly the chip failed either at the start or finish or both.  I think the pics clearly show I was at the start and there were loads of photographers at the finish so I think it will be pretty clear that I finished - plus I would be amazed if an event such as this didn't have a manual back up.  I don't mind as these things happen (although questionable whether results should be published without manual checks), but it is how the race organisers respond that make the difference between a well run event or a poorly run event - I hope it is the former!


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