Bath Half marathon - race report

3 March 2014, 14:29

I haven’t raced since Bacchus half in September, but I’ve been training non-stop since November for the London marathon, and Bath Half yesterday was my first real chance to see whether it had been paying off.

If you recall, I managed to PB at Bacchus despite it being a super hilly, off-road course, and at the time I wondered what my time could’ve been had it been on a fast, flat course. So when selecting my spring half marathon, I was looking out for those with PB potential, and I settled on Bath since I’ve got two friends there and the course looked great. It’s a big city-centre race with 11,000+ runners and fantastic crowd support along the route. Some runners may be put off my the two-lap course, but I actually really appreciated this since I’m unfamiliar with the town and the second loop felt like it went way faster than the first as I already had a mental image of where I was going.

I’d gone to my trainer on Friday for a sports massage and to discuss race strategy, and I came away with a plan to run fairly comfortably (upper heart rate Z2-lower Z3) for the first 10 miles, then gun it for the last 3. I’d take in 2 Shot Bloks or a gel every 20min, but as the course is entirely in miles, I found it easier to remember to eat at miles 3, 6, 9, and 12. (I also came away with the feeling of Brand New Legs!!)

Kit laid out for Bath Half
Even the night before I wasn’t sure if I’d need the long sleeved top!

The weather forecast had changed several times throughout the week, from bright sunshine to mixed snow to 10 degrees, but in reality it ended up being my perfect racing weather – cool, cloudy, and slightly drizzling. The first mile or so was quite crowded with a fair amount of jostling and overtaking (as per usual), but the white pen seemed to be pretty even pacers as I ended up running with quite a few people for the entire race. But I made my classic mistake of starting out too fast – my first few kilometers were at 4:10-4:20 pace and my heart rate monitor was telling me I was in Zone 3 (high 170s-low 180s for me). So I tried to ease off the pace a little to bring my heart rate down a smidge, trying to think to “run comfortable”, but as I ran, my heart rate pretty much stayed put no matter what my legs did, so there came a point around Mile 6 I just thought “eh, fuck it!” and carried on with my pace, ignoring what my heart rate was saying.

On paper, this might seem scary to a lot of runners (myself included), but I ran through my mental body checklist and the lungs, legs, and head all felt okay, the pace felt a little tougher than comfortable, but certainly easier than my Tuesday runs with the RDC Elites, so I just tried to cling on and run based on all my other feedback and not let my heart rate overrule them all.

Bath Half photos
The final push to the finish line over the last few hundred meters…

My Bath-based friends were out cheering on part of the loop, so seeing them twice was a real boost, and I even had a chat with two fellow runners – one man came up to me specifically to compliment my forefoot-striking pose (a little weird, but nice!), and I spied an Anthony Nolan vest just ahead of me at one point so I said hello and found out he’s also running their 10km Marrowthon next week as well as London marathon.

The course profile definitely wasn’t as pancake flat as, say, Amsterdam marathon, but the few undulations just gave a bit of variety to the course – the very last mile is uphill, however, and while the gradient isn’t much at all, its placement at the very end of the route meant that the last mile felt about 5 miles long!

After Bath Half
Pardon that I’ve scrunched up my own-design PB Jam Leggings here – they weren’t like that while I was running!

In the end, I crossed the finish line in 1:36:28, which is a sizeable new PB for me (previous was 1:43), and though I failed to stick to my race strategy, I think I learned a lot more from listening (and not listening!) to my body and taking a gamble during the race.

I will also say for anyone considering this race next year – the VIP entry was totally worth the extra money. Honestly, I’d only gone for it since regular entries had sold out, but for £40 more, having a warm, dry place to go afterwards, plus private bag check, proper toilets, hot showers (though communal), unlimited food and drink for myself and two friends really made a huge difference on the day when I came through the finishing gates in the (now steady) rain, shivering, and very low on brain power. Not having to queue to get into warm dry clothes or perch in the mud waiting for other friends to finish was well worth it.

Gunfinger pose after Bath Half

Big thanks and congrats to Winnie who also ran this yesterday despite her training not going to plan! And for fuelling me up with a massive pasta dinner the night before…

Bath half marathon, 2 March 2014, 1:36:28

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Comments:

  1. Have followed your blog for a while now as we share twin passions of sewing and running but have never commented before. Just wanted to say a big congratulations on your race time -what a fantastic achievement . I too completed bath half yesterday but at a much more sedate pace! Well done you! Debbie


    — Debbie    3 March 2014, 23:45    #
  2. What a great review and the context for your crashing pb is just fabulous. I’m so pleased that it was such a good experience all round and well set you up for the London. You are a star!! And thank you for including me as one of your VIPs, I’ll second that it was a great call!


    Scruffy badger    4 March 2014, 21:43    #
  3. Well done! How anyone can run for an hour and a half is beyond me…so impressive. Running at 180 bpm is impressive too. Once my heart gets up there (running with my dog…but not far!) I know I have to bring it down or I’ll start to feel queasy.


    alice    11 March 2014, 20:11    #

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