After many years of intending to enter this local race, the Berkhamsted Half Marathon, I finally suceeded yesterday and got myself one of the 100 places reserved for 'locals' (i.e. anyone who got to Berkhamsted and applied in person). I know the roads around there very well and have even done the course as a training run when preparing for my first Jungfrau Marathon. I also ran most of the course in reverse last week when I ran the 17 mile Gade Valley Harriers London Marathon Training Run. Thankfully the weather had made a major improvement on last week when we had freezing rain and snow (and some git in a BMW (isn't it always) who decided that splashing runners with freezing puddles was far better than driving round them.)
Today was absolutely perfect running weather. Cool and sunny. I'm not sure whether I actually broke out into a sweat or not it was such perfect temperature. I was dressed all in black in my Gore lycra shorts, Champion technical tee shirt, Gore running hat and black gloves. I wore my good old Asic Gel Kayano (14?) running shoes. Really must tie the laces tighter as I had to retie each one on the run.
As often happens when you're near to something, you think there's loads of time and end up being late. I parked up and ran the mile or so to the start and was still queuing to store my bag when the starting gun went off. I'd forgotten my watch in the rush but fortunately we had timing chips so I'll eventually get a chip time. So I started at the back amongst the virgins and ipod people. I spent the rest of the race passing runners. As I found last week the miles just ticked off. Since I've been doing longer distance weekend sessions (17 -20 miles) I'm finding a half marathon quite short. Having rushed to get to the start I'd not had time to do my ablutions and spent miles 5 - 8 looking for suitable place to hide. Local knowledge came in handy as I knew exactly where there were some decent bushes to hide behind. I had to watch about a hundred runners pass me as I was occupied. I finally reeled them all back in by the finish line.
I hadn't any gels left for today's run so I resorted to good old Kendal Mint Cake which I nibbled most of the way round. I'm not sure if it was the KMC or just that I'm getting fitter but I felt full of energy all the way round. As I said I was passing people all the way round (even on hills which is unusual for me).
Just as we ran past the marvellous Ashridge House (above) I saw a guy drop his hat so I scooped it up off the ground and gave it back to him as I ran past. I'll be resorting to the KMC a bit more often I think.
As usual, runners weren't using the downhills properly so I grabbed a few extra places on the last mile which is all downhill. Not having a watch I had no idea what time I was doing. I'd hoped to get under 1:40 on this hilly course and was delighted to nip under the clock just as it ticked onto 1:37. So I reckon my chip time should be 1:35 or less. Not bad considering the circumstances.
(Update 8/3/10: Clock time 1:37:07, Chip time: 1:34:48, Clock Position: 174 / 1200, Chip position about 130th).
Overall, a very enjoyable run made special by the weather. Might do that one again.