St Albans half recap

Hey peeps!

So, first up, the resting worked! Last night we watched a movie and generally chilled out. I got everything ready for the morning, so I would not have to be racing around in the morning (even pinned my number to my top so I would not be trying to find safety pins).

The weather said it would be cloudy at first, but sunny later, so I had chosen a vest and capris to deal with the heat later. I had toast and jam for breakfast, plus a glass and a half of water.

When I started running longer, I used to take a bottle out with me, but I found that it made my arm ache. So then I switched to a waist pack (and I think if I was marathon training I would go back to using that)- but it is a bit annoying. So I have not taken water with me on any of my training runs. Most of them have been during cooler weather, but some have been hot. During Brighton I really struggled near the end, and part of it was down to a stomach ache, which I think is down to drinking while running.

Ages ago I heard a marathon talk interview all about hydration (Episode 127– worth a listen and you can skip to the “training talk” section if you just want to hear that), and they were saying that more problems were caused by people over-hydrating as then their salts etc get dangerously diluted. Elite racers used to be banned from drinking at all during marathons (decades ago)- you couldn’t imagine that now. Some dehydration is natural during activity and of course everyone needs to find what works for them, but I have found I have been fine running with no drink, and just make sure I am hydrated the day before, and drink when I get back. So, I was not taking my bottle with me. There is also a bit of information about the dangers of over drinking here.

We picked up Andy’s brother and then headed to the start line- we were there 45 minutes before, and it was quite chilly! I wished I had packed a jumper to wear, as we had packed a bag for the bag drop. I sort of felt like I needed the toilet, but I have decided that a lot of that is psychological too, and I knew there were toilets on the course, so I told myself if I really needed I could stop en-route.

I met a couple of people from the Sweatshop run, although I lost them before the start line. We lined up and luckily in the starter pens it was a bit warmer as we were out of the wind. I wanted to beat 2.19, and had written down the pacing times for 2.15 and 2.10 (good to be optimistic)- either 10.18 per mile or 9.55 per mile. In the end I remembered those two times and just checked that my average speed was in that range. Andy and his brother set off at the same time but were ahead of me before we crossed the start line!

Mile 1- Fairly flat- through the park. A lot of people watching and cheering.

Mile 2- Uphill but not too steep. Seemed to go by fast.

There were so many marshalls lining the course- the most I have ever seen at any race- and they were all cheering and enthusiastic, it was lovely. One group of people were playing music from their car- when I got there it was the Benny Hill music so that was in my head for a good few miles!

Mile 3- Mostly downhill- we sort of loop back at that point back towards the park.

Mile 4- The dreaded Bluehouse Hill- a long hill that gets steeper as you go up it. One of the Sweatshop girls overtook me at that point- we chatted for a minute before she headed off. The road was lined with loads of kids so I concentrated on high-fiving them- took my mind off the hill!

Miles 5-6- Along a road and then into country lanes- would have been pretty exposed if it was sunny, I was thankful for the clouds.

I had a couple of sips from one of the water stations at this point, and used the rest to wash my face (getting salty) and my hands (sticky).

Miles 7-9- I had no idea where we were! It has all blended into one already. The course was undulating- some nice downhill bits but some short and steep uphill sections too. It was also quite twisty. Tried to get past a man who kept burping so loudly it sounded like he was going to be sick- had a brief panic that he was going to be sick on me!

I went over the half way mat in 1.03 (although I think it was a bit before half way) which worried me a bit- was I going to blow to pieces later? But I was feeling OK.

I opened my little pack of jelly beans (a Sweatshop freebie) and had a few- I wasn’t feeling hungry but I was conscious that I wanted to have a little energy boost before the end. I also had a few more sips from a water station- I think I got water at two or three altogether, but only a sip from each cup.

Mile 10- I caught up with Andy’s brother- we ran the next mile together and chatted which meant the mile flew by. By that point we had run 10 miles in 1 hr 40, so I knew unless something went badly wrong I would beat 2.19.

Mile 11- There was a short uphill section that was so steep- I really wanted to stop and had to remind myself to pump my arms- funny how when we are tired even the natural things go out the window. Still the route was through little country lanes so it was very pretty. At one point along a narrow lane a horse (being ridden) came towards us- that made me a bit nervous as I usually like to give horses a very wide berth!

Mile 12- Nearly there!

Mile 13- Back out to the top of the dreaded hill, down the hill- check my legs- they are feeling super tired but they are still moving! Down to the bottom, a little loop back- on my way back up I saw Andy’s brother so gave him a wave and a shout. Then back into the park for the final stretch. Normally when I can hear the tannoy announcer at the end I get a bit of an adrenaline rush (which is often counter-productive as it comes too early and leaves me with wobbly legs coming up to the final section), but I didn’t get one. I was still keeping a good posture, I was feeling OK, and I knew I was in with a chance of getting a pb! The very last section was on grass and the fences were lined with people- I even heard Andy’s brother’s wife giving me a shout!

I think I was grinning from ear to ear as I crossed that line- my watch said 2.10 something! Amazing!

Photo: St Albans Half Marathon done- 2.10.09 new pb!!

Then I was given an ice lolly (an orange juice one= amazing!), a bottle of water, a goodie bag and a cup of water, plus a medal. It was quite chilly so I put the t-shirt on and then went to find Andy and his family. We had packed some nuun tabs in the bag drop bag, so I had one of those in my bottle of water, and we shared a clif bar on the way back to the car.

The goody bag was good in my opinion as it had things I would actually use/ eat- a clif bar (although I got blueberry flavour- boo, Andy won with a peanut butter one!), some rehydration tabs and a few race leaflets, plus the t-shirt which came in handy right away.

On the walk back to the car I also got a text message with our times- my official time was 2.10.09– so a new pb by 2 minutes! I am so pleased 🙂

Then it was time for a shower (I used some of that ice gel after which really helped my legs) and lunch. I wasn’t feeling that hungry, but I knew I would crash later if I didn’t eat something. I made some sourdough toast (different bread to the morning!) and once I had that I realised I was hungry, so had melon, strawberries, a cup of tea and then some lovely fruit tea bread.

So good.

I didn’t eat all of my jelly beans- they were in my little belt along with hand sanitiser (in case I needed to use the port-a-loos)- I left everything else in the bag drop.

I think the not drinking really helped me- often in the latter stages of half marathons I get a sort of bloated feeling in my stomach, and I think that is due to the water. I prefer to sip water from a bottle, so the water stations aren’t ideal when they are in cups, but I didn’t get that ache at all. Of course I have made sure I redydrated later on, but I am convinced that this is what works for me.

What do you do about drink/ water when working out?

Phew- what a mammoth recap! Off to rest now 🙂

Loading Facebook Comments ...

21 thoughts on “St Albans half recap”

  1. Yayyayyay, so happy you beat your pb! Saw all the half signage going up yesterday on the way to parkrun, will think about signing up for next year’s!

    1. Thanks! When I was at the start I was wondering why I wasn’t just doing Parkrun instead! 😉

  2. Huge congratulations on the PR 😀

    I don’t drink much during races either (the Ultra being the exception). Downing a tonne of water beforehand is no good anyway – it just makes you want to pee very badly. In terms of staying hydrated it’s what you drink en-route that counts…plus I tend to go for the isotonic drinks if there are any for the electrolytes, and because I can’t eat much before the race without having to run to the portaloo (TMI?)

    I use those hydration tabs – the pink grapefruit variety are my faves 🙂

    Well done again!


    1. Yes I just had a normal amount of water in the morning, and just hoped I had had enough to drink the day before. Worked well for me anyway.
      I didn’t see any other drinks, but one station was giving out energy gels, but they make me feel a bit ill so didn’t have those.

  3. Congrats on aceing your PB Maria, awesome 🙂 !

    I found it interesting what you wrote about over-hydrating. With my one & only ever running session (before my first ever 10k race) with a ‘running trainer’ he kept hammering in ‘hydrate hydrate hydrate’ so I actually drank about three times during the race, but I actually had never drank anything when training (& I was hitting distances up to 12k)! So it’s definitely one for me to think about 😉

    Also, did you use a particular training plan for your half? I’m thinking (very apprehensively) about doing a half in September but feel a bit clueless as to where to start and if there’s enough time :/

    1. I think you have to find what works for you with the water, but I would think little sips are all you need really.
      I have not followed a training plan this time- I generally have 3 runs per week, sometimes 4. One short run- 3-4 miles. One mid-length run- these are my Sweatshop runs- totals about 5 miles with 3 in the middle being fast (sort of tempo running I suppose) and then one long run at the weekend. I started off at about 6 miles, then each week added a mile- some weeks stay the same or cut back- I would say you have plenty of time- the Runners World smart coach is good to look at but the plans can be complicated so I tend to make my own up really 🙂

  4. Wooo-hooooo mega congratulations; sounds like you paced yourself very well all the way round.
    I seem to be a little like you in that I can do with little sips of water around a course but HATE carrying a bottle but when I want a sip of water I want it …. NOW 😉 So loooong runs I use my water belt.

    1. Thanks 🙂
      I seem to be getting the pacing right recently- I look at my watch to check but that is all usually.
      I quite liked using the water cups to wash my face, but I did one race (maybe the marathon actually) where they had buckets and little sponges and you could cool down with those- lovely.

  5. AMAZING job on the PB, especially in such hot weather! Great haul too, though I think the ice lolly would be my favourite 😉 I’ve found that recently I’ve been drinking less while working out but I will always take a bottle with me – even if it is a pain to carry. I’ve learned not to take a full one though, too heavy and pointless because I won’t drink it all!

    1. I take one to the gym but even during pump where I get quite thirsty (and it is easier to drink as we have breaks between the tracks) I don’t drink that much.
      And thanks 🙂

  6. Oh huge well done on your pb! I love that pic of you smiling at the end 🙂 I used to love coconut water when I was running but sometimes I just used to dilute some orange juice with water and a pinch of salt and that did the trick. If I was running under an hour then usually I would run without water, although I seem to get much more in need of water just doing short sessions at the gym!

  7. Yay well done you! I only go for short runs at the moment so no need for, I only used to take water if I was running over an hour and a half when training for the half I did a few years ago. If I train again I would look into alternatives to holding a bottle for sure x

  8. Woohoo congrats! Im so pleased it went well 🙂
    Im the same with hydration. I drink before and then leave it when I’m running. I never take water when I’m out on my own. The 10ks I’ve taken a sip of water at the water stations purely because it’s been so warm recently. But only a sip as I’m always worried I’ll get a stitch. But before a race I have to pee like three times as I hate thinking I need the loo when I’m running.
    What are the jelly beans like? Are they good for boosting you?

    1. For the half marathons I have done recently I just took normal jelly beans as I can eat them while running (Tescos ones are better than the jelly belly ones as they have more normal flavours)- I got those ones free from Sweatshop but they are just normal ones too. I think it is probably psychological but at about 10 miles I get a bit tired so I try to have a little bit of energy about then. Not sure if they helped but my last 3 miles were pretty fast so they do help. But I wouldn’t buy the lucozade ones- just normal ones.

  9. Congratulations on the PB! And on a great run, I always love your race recaps, the bit about the Benny Hill music is hilarious 🙂
    I know what you mean about the psychological needing the toilet, I’m exactly the same when I’m competing, and would agree about the water, if I’ve been drinking immediately before a round (on a horse) it feels so uncomfortable…

  10. Amazing PB- Congrats! I usually take my camelbak with coconut water mixed with water on any runs longer then 8-9 miles, I would probably just drink from the water stops in a half though. For me it depends on the conditions, if it’s hot I need to drink a lot, so I feel more comfortable having my own drink with me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *