I had a wacky night of sleep which wasn’t a good start. Had a flight supposed to depart at 7:35 pm last night which ended up flying off at 10:15 pm. Apart from catching an hour of sleep on the plane and another hour in the car, during the journey to the cottage (we got there at 2 am), I didn’t properly get to sleep till after 2:30 am.

The Morning of the Half Marathon

Arising at 6 am, I felt surprisingly fine, not too tired. We were fortunate enough to have good friends in Denmark to lend us their cottage and provide us with food for breakfast this morning, so I went for as close to what I usually have:
  • 4 scrambled eggs
  • Some ‘bacon cheese’ which melted nicely on top of the hot eggs
  • A couple of handfuls of almonds
  • And then because I was still peckish I had 2 bars of dark chocolate whilst sipping on half of my Powerade

It was raining heavily on and off and the temperature was around 14°C, a nice temperature to run in – I just had to hope the rain would stop (which it did). Admittedly, I was a bit anxious for this race as the last long run I had done prior to the race was about 4 weeks ago and was 13km in an hour, at what was a fairly relaxed pace. The whole track season, I had been focusing on trying to develop my speed and now I was faced with a monster like a half marathon. Damn. Not only did I have to conquer the distance, but I had to run fast enough so that I did not disappoint myself and regret running it.

We left at 8:30 am to get to Holstebro for 9:10 am before the race start at 10 am. I did a ten minute jog with my dad who was doing the 10km race there and did some drills, but nothing intensive since compared to a 1500m, there was no need to put a lot of effort into a dynamic warm up since the pace would be a lot slower, and one that I would have to hopefully sustain for 21.1km.

Half Marathon Race

I placed myself near the front which was quite easy to do; the gun went off and we started running. I tried to be conservative with my pace since I knew how easy it was to go off too fast. My previous best from when I was 15, was around 84:30. Today, my target was to get at least under 80 minutes and to try and hit 3:45 min/km pacing if possible.

For the first two kilometres, I got the pacing right, but as the course started to ascend slightly, the pace dropped to a 3:57 and 3:53 kilometre. After the 4th kilometre, I was in third, I could see 2nd place in front of me and the man in first was long gone. The man in front turned his head and saw me coming and almost seemed to slow until I had caught up to him at which point he decided to sit behind me for 13 kilometres.

He sat behind me, not necessarily pushing me by challenging me, but just by being aware of his presence and not wanting him to overtake me, encouraged me to start running faster. My kilometre times dropped altogether, some of them going as low as 3:34 with this man behind me. I took water from the water station 8km into the race but failed to grab a cup at 12km after which I didn’t bother to slow to gulp water down.

Midway through the race, I began to feel my quadriceps start fatiguing slightly and I immediately regretted the lifting session I did on Friday despite lowering the load of the work and having been told to miss the session to ensure I was ready for the half marathon. All I thought was: ‘Got to keep grinding, can’t let this hard work pay off for nothing.’ So I kept trying to keep the pace going, occasionally glancing at my watch to ensure I was on track.

The guy behind me occasionally ‘touched’ the back of my left forefoot with his foot when we were running by accident, leaving a weird dull feeling in my foot for a while each time I pushed off the ground. At 18km this man suddenly put in a surge which I matched, giving me my quickest km time of 3:29. Then the run went into the forest where it went up and down and up and down. This bit was the most horrible, because my legs just felt like they were on fire and I had a dull pain in the side of my right abdomen which hurt whenever my body hurtled downhill in an attempt to stay with the man who had managed to overtake me and was now increasing a gap.

I kept trying to push because I knew 80 minutes was definitely within reach despite getting slower in this hillier section of the course till I got to the last 100m stretch on the asphalt track and saw the clock on 78 minutes. I surged, comfortably making it under 79 minutes to get 78:54. I staggered a bit after the line and then hobbled.

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The final 100m of the half marathon!

Post Race

My dad tried to get me to do a cool down jog with him, but I only managed 3 steps before I staggered again and grabbed my leg. ‘I can’t jog,’ I said, ‘I’ll just walk around.’ We had to wait about an hour and a half till the prizes were given out for the top 3 in each race, meanwhile, I ate a banana, sipped the last of my Powerade and spoke to a runner from Ethiopia who came 2nd in the 10km. For coming third, I won a gift voucher of 100 Danish Krone to spend at DK Sports.

For the rest of the day, I was pretty much hungry and was walking about to try and keep the blood moving in my legs. My legs felt a lot better several hours after the race when I tried to cool down.
Altogether, I’m very pleased with how my half marathon went today given that there was 90m of elevation and most of it was off-road and I’m sure I could run even faster at a race with more participants and on a flat course on road!

What are your experiences doing a half marathon?