The lack of any training or mileage since October meant that my form and fitness going into this was going to be severely tested. I knew I was way off my PB set in March at the MK half of 1:20, but hoped I might be good for 1.30. Reading this you may be forgiven for thinking that 10 minutes slower is way off and surely easy, but not so. Thats still sub 7 minute miling and the way I'm running right now would still be a major test.
It was a perfect day. Blue skies and 8 degrees. I was fully Buffed up! My LBAC vest was in the wash after the previous day's Cross Country race (which was still in the legs). The Bedford Half attracts a sizeable field of seasoned veterans and first timers alike. I love the undulating course which sticks to narrow country lanes for the most part. There's a few hills to test you but the reward is a downhill finish from 9 miles onwards which flattens out but is a nice fast finish.
I approached this race as a training run which lots of people say but what does that actually mean? Well for me it means ignoring everything that is going on around you and simply running your own race, and not getting caught up in the excitement at the start. I did just this and reeled off some even miles at around 6:50 pace.
I was coping with the pace but it wasn't easy. On the hills the pace would obviously drop above 7 min pace, but I was averaging 6:52 which was spot on for a sub 1:30 finish. I crossed the half way mark in exactly 45 minutes to the second! I was feeling it but hoping that the fast finish would help to sneak under my goal time.
I was hydrating well with my own bottle of water so no faffing with plastic cups. Everything was going well, perhaps too well (but this thought didn't occur to me at the time). And then everything was about to change...
At the 10 mile mark and enjoying a nice downhill section it was warming up. We were getting to the business end of the race so I decided to remove my WSER arm warmers , and thought nothing more of it. A few minutes later I looked down to check my pace and was horrified it find my Garmin wasn't there!! The arm warmer had evidently pulled it out of its quick release cradle which remained on my wrist. ARGH!!! it was decision time.... Do I turn around and go and look for it putting pay to my sub 1:30 or carry on? It was an easy decision as it cost £300!! And this was 'just' a training run after all. This didn't make it any easier though as I ran against the oncoming runners shouting like a mad man 'has anyone spotted my Garmin!?' no one had... And they were rightly all focused on their own race. Mild panic was overcoming me as I couldn't spot it and didn't know exactly where it had come off. How far do I go back!?... I fully expected to see it in 1000 pieces across the road but at least then I would have known its fate and could have returned to business. As it was every step was another one in the wrong direction that I had to take again to rescue my ruined race. Seeing all the runners I had worked so hard to overtake throughout the race was not the best feeling. I couldn't spot my Garmin anywhere so resigned myself to losing it :-( making this the most expensive race EVER! I turned around and headed on towards the finish. I had not only lost my Garmin but also lost my motivation to close this race out hard. I was still overtaking runners with many asking if I had found it. Nice for them to be concerned but no came the frustrated reply. I closed out the final mile and pushed hard to finish in 1:34.
I was still pleased with how I had run the race and my finish time, and in reflective mood resigned the lost of my Garmin to just something that happened. What could I do!? Well firstly I reported it to a Marshal at the finish and left my details with her in the desperate hope of it being found and handed in. I showered and waited for my friends who I had drove up with. We got the shuttle bus back to my car and decided to drive back to the 10 mile mark to launch a search and rescue mission. All four of us scoured the grass verge on both sides of the road for a 1/4 mile or so stretch but no luck. It was like looking for a needle in a haystack and the odds werent good. We returned to the car garminless . I was gutted cos I wanted to review my race splits plus I was £300 poorer! I took one more walk up the road in the opposite direction to where I had thought it had come off and continued looking in the vain hope of finding it. Less than 50 metres from the car and heading back, head down low, THERE IT WAS!! Face up in the grass a foot from the gutter still going. Unbelievable!! I felt like I'd won the frigging race :-) haha.
So that was my last race of 2014 and possibly my last blog post too. It's been quite a year to reflect on with my sub 3 marathon, 1:20 Half, Western States finish and epic 42hr UTMB. Also not forgetting a surprise performance at Snowdonia.
I think time is running out to crack sub 18 in Parkrun which was the goal I set myself in November. I clocked 18:12 a few weeks ago but since then have gone backwards. Theres a few attempts left but I fear my new found love of Aldi mince pies might put pay to that ;-)
My ambitions for 2014 remain very much up in the air. I was registered to the T184 in August but then decided post Snowdonia that i wanted to go back in 2014 and crack sub 3 there. The two couldn't work together so I've bailed out of the T184 in favour of committing myself 100% to marathon training. The vague plan was a late spring marathon (possibly MK) to attempt 2:45-50 (well you have to aim BIG!!) and the continue through to Snowdonia doing a mix of Parkruns, 10ks, halves and possibly a training marathon run prior to Snowdonia....