Or, did I finally lift the half marathon curse? Spoiler alert: no I didn’t.
In the end, what actually got me was the weather. Again. The forecast was about 12 degrees, cloudy and maybe a bit of drizzle. Most of my training this year has been done in cold, wet and windy weather, so, apart from being a few degrees warmer, these conditions would have been fine. Unfortunately, though, the cloud had to meet other engagements so we actually had pure sunshine at the time of the year when the sun is is starting to project some real power. Apparently it was the warmest day of the year so far, and I got sunburnt. (And less than a week later, I was walking up to Parkrun thinking “hmm, I wish I’d put my gloves on”)
I ran pretty well for about 10km then started to feel a bit dubious. By about 12km I started feeling very nauseous and thought I was going to throw up (I didn’t), and had to stop and walk a couple of times. The 25m climb over the 12th kilometre possibly didn’t help. As of the 16km water station I kept hold of the bottle and kept pouring it over my head to cool me down. It helped a lot and towards the end I was keeping a steady pace again, but my heart rate was very high.
The course was very up and down for the first half, then, after a real climb up to about 12km, settled into a steady downhill. So in theory the second half and especially the last third should have been much faster, but everyone I follow on Strava (with one exception) had splits similar to mine, with a total drop off from around 12km that never recovered. I’m not sure if that was the fatigue from the hills in the first half or the the cumulative effects of the heat (I suspect the latter). The one exception ran fairly even splits, and then collapsed at the end and ended up in the medical tent afterwards (he’s fine now).
I had underestimated the hills. In previous years the course was much flatter, but they changed it this year and hadn’t published a profile. The first 7km went in circles up and down some fairly steep hills in the city centre. Runalyze has the total elevation gain at 211m, which makes it the hilliest half I’ve done. It has almost the same amount of total elevation gain as the Boston marathon (over half the distance), which is considered a difficult marathon because of the hills. I’m not really a big fan of hills.
Anyway, the summary is that I wasn’t pleased with the result at the time (1:47), but it was a tough course on a hot day and I still managed to hold a decent pace over the last few kilometres, so that’s a win. Usually when I struggle, I look at the race photos afterwards and my posture has collapsed, but this time I still look pretty strong by the end, so that’s a positive too.
I have to mention the goody bag. Post run goody bags are usually underwhelming, but Great Run outdid themselves here. It included some hummus “crisps”, a the token unappetising protein bar and… a bottle of vitamin C tablets. Not a multivitamin, but vitamin C specifically. Because… runners are prone to scurvy? 🤷♂️ I do like the Great Run t-shirts though. They always seem very high quality. This year’s is quite thin, so I now have a wide selection of light summer and thicker winter running t-shirts from Great Run.
Recovery was fine and I was running again a couple of days later. I actually did too much in the week afterwards and this week I’ve been quite achy and have had to tone it back a bit. My right hip and left achilles are a little bit grumpy. I’ll probably skip Parkrun tomorrow and save my legs for a 10k I’m doing on Sunday, which hopefully will go better than the half. The forecast is sunny and hot, but I’m prepared with a new very light summer running top. I’d like to say the course will be easier, but it’s two laps with a 600m long 2.8% gradient hill on each lap… hmm. At least it’s only 10k.
One thought on “Birmingham”
That’s a lot of data! Glad you survived the heat, hoping for a speedy recovery for you.