I have quite a few thoughts about the Conwy Half Marathon… the censored version appears here!
Firstly, the reason why I chose to ran a half marathon was purely to understand what it feels like to be a runner, what training is required, how to train your mind to get into a pace that can hold out for 13.1 miles or 26.2 if you’re doing a full marathon. I will be running a full marathon in April 2012, so decided that first i’d need to do a half marathon. Conwy was the next available half. I wish I could say i’d chosen the best route for a beginner…
Taking runners alongside the Conwy River as it carries on towards Deganwy Beach and the West Shore, Llandudno for just over 3 miles, then onto the road leading up Church Walks in the direction of Llandudno Pier. From there the route goes around the Great Orme and finally back to Conwy to cross the finish line.
Can I point out here that the run towards Deganwy Beach meant sand running. I.e. running on sand. For those who haven’t run through sand, it’s tough!
For me personally, I didn’t specifically train for this half marathon. I believe if you have a good base level of fitness, you can run for 30 minutes at a steady pace with ease and that you have a wider range of training (i.e. good muscular strength and joint stability, particularly ankles) you’d be fine for a half marathon. The variable will be how long you complete the course in.
Obviously, i’m not suggesting that you decide to run a half marathon and just go and do it without further thinking.
I walked Snowdon a couple of times the month before the race to work on my leg strength and ankle stability.
The running that I did on the treadmill included interval training (specifically 5 mins warm up and 25 intervals of 00:40 secs 15.00 kph / 00:20 secs rest) hill running (outdoors) and my usual training via the Les Mills Programmes (Body Pump, Body Combat, Body Balance and Body Attack)
Race day started off at 07:00 for me. We travelled to Conwy to arrive and get everything sorted for 10:00 when we watched the rest of the runners arrive, had a coffee (small, no milk, i’ve had bad experiences running after a latte. Not a great idea.)
By this time, i’d had a good look around the start of the course and looked up to the Great Orme. Funny how things have changed since I was a kid. In this case, the Great Orme grew in size. In fact I think it doubled. Knowing I was running up it might have had something to do with me wondering how that thing got so big!
Anyway, the runners lined up at midday. I stood with the folks expecting to complete the marathon in under 1:30:00
What can I say, i’m an optimist.
So the gun goes and for the first mile, steady, fun, scenic, reasonably good.
Then we hit the sand. For those that are running this half maraton, through this section, just breathe steady and know it won’t last. You just run through it on the way back but don’t worry about that yet…
At this point, big thanks to the “Shropshire Shufflers” who averaged age 65ish running ahead of me. They were fab.
I started off too fast and began to really struggle by mile 4. I took a little walk and took in the scenes and caught my breath. By mile 5, i was up and running, a little slower but steadier than before. Big thanks to the chap at mile 5 who shouted “Keep it up 506!”
The Great Orme was second to toughest part of the course (first coming later…) I decided to actually enjoy the run and complete it in the best time I could, I needed to take it in intervals. I ran as steady as I could for around half a mile, then walked until I caught my breath. This really worked.
The golden rule to actually enjoy a half would be to talk to people. By this time, the serious runners had overtaken me so I wasn’t worried about distracting the serious folk. Talking to people and just generally knowing others are feeling the effects of the Great Orme too is brilliant. Not only that but i’ve never really understood why people don’t communicate when in big groups. I totally understand people are in their zone and want to do their thing, particularly where exercise is concerned, but i’m talking a 20 second chat, literally. It really boosted my energy levels.
Looking around at other runners was a great inspiration to me. If you’re a runner, you’ll know that there are people who constantly over take you, and you then over take them. They are working at different intervals to you but ultimately the same pace. The chap that was running for his mum raising money for Cancer Research was one of the runners at the same pace as me.
Miles 7 to around 11 were fantastic. I’d completed most of the Orme and the views were fantastic.
Now then… miles 11+. Remember that sand? Here comes the toughest part of the course. I’d convinced myself that towards the end, particularly the last mile, i’d sprint to make my time in under 2 hours. My legs had nothing left and that sand….! Thankfully, i’d clocked a few runners who i’d started with and thought:
What would I advise my clients to do here?
So I kept going, kept breathing steady until I saw friends and family at the finish line. I managed a 30 second sprint to push myself through at 2:09:10
I’ll have that. Considering at mile 11 I was wondering what excuses I would create if I decided to get the bus back. I wasn’t feeling very creative at that point so decided finishing was the better option!
My words straight after the race:
I am NOT doing a full marathon!
Needless to say, I am.
Muscle wise, the recovery was near enough fine and to be expected from endurance exercise.
Metally, I was wiped! A hefty dose of protein for muscle reovery and a bath did me well.
My training for the rest of that week was very slow. Again, to be expected.
I would definitely recommend a half marathon. The community feel and buzz throughout was amazing.
Training for a full marathon ups the gear, dramatically. Watch this space!