pace yourself

I think I’ve been a bit overly optimistic. I’ve had this ideal target of finishing the Great North Run in under two hours since I started training for it – a pace of a shade under 9 minutes a mile. Not a problem for one mile, or even three, as I did last night in the 20 degree heat of 7pm (Manchester Run flashbacks!). But could I possibly maintain the pace over another ten miles?

I think pacing yourself is quite a skill to learn as a runner. I’ve been training for 10k distance for so long now, I’m finding it quite hard to adjust to a slower pace and accept that I have to go slower if I’m going to make the half marathon without keeling over before the end. I even set out for my run yesterday evening telling myself to take it easy as it was too warm, and I know I pushed too hard to keep the 9 minute pace. Pointless if I can’t do more than a quarter of the distance I need to.

My new resolve then, with only ten weeks to go to the big day, is to forget all about what time I’d like to finish in and concentrate on just finishing in the first place. The North-East could provide one or all of brilliant sunshine, torrential rain, blizzard or hurricane on the day, and I can’t rely on cool and cloudy conditions to help me out. Also, I know it is by no means a flat course, and I think I learned my lesson in the Gateshead 10k a couple of weeks ago that a badly timed hill can be the undoing of a race, as it meant maintaining my usual pace impossible.

I want to enjoy my first half marathon experience – and the Great North Run is one of the most iconic races to be involved in. I can’t wait to set off along the Central Motorway in Newcastle and cross the Tyne Bridge, with hundreds of spectators cheering us on and the Red Arrows flying overhead. My husband Andy will be running it with me, which will help push me on, and we will be wearing the colours of Tommy’s, the pregnancy and baby charity, which is ultimately our whole reason for doing it in the first place. Having pre-eclampsia when pregnant scared me into getting fit and taking up running, two years ago now, so the money we are raising for Tommy’s is a huge incentive to do well.

If I’m going to enjoy the race, I have to enjoy the training too – and if that means taking my foot off the gas a little, then it’s something I have to do. Two years ago I couldn’t run one mile, let alone contemplate thirteen. On September 15th when I’ve got that finishers medal in my hand, whatever time I do it in, I will be a very happy bunny.

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