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Hever Castle half marathon

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Joined: 19 May 2007
Posts: 446

PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2018 4:29 pm    Post subject: Hever Castle half marathon Reply with quote

Way back in April I was gifted an entry to the half marathon at Hever Castle in September, courtesy of the5krunner. Way back in April this seemed like a nice way to end the season, I had been ramping my long runs up to 1.5 hours and an autumn half marathon in a country park setting would provide an outlet for all this run strength I was building. Then I picked up a niggle in my calf. Cue no running for a few weeks, and much reduced duration when I did return. With my season focus being a sprint tri around Strathclyde Country Park, my run training switched from long and steady to more shorter threshold runs. So roll on September and I havenít run for more than an hour at a time in 5 months. But running legs had returned to good health and the idea of an autumn half still appealed. When a local race appeared on the calendar for the end of October I put together a little 8 week plan and decided to use the Hever race as a hard training run.

One long run and a couple of HM pace runs later Iím viewing the weather forecast for the weekend. Do I really want to travel a couple of hours in the pouring rain, to run in the pouring rain? In for a penny Ė or not, it was free remember Ė I decide to take the plunge. I arrive at the venue thankful that Iím not one of the people racking their bike and making their way down to the lake in a wetsuit. It was wet, it was cold, it was muddy. The runners made our way to the startline in front of the castle. A mix of local runners and friends of competing triathletes would be my guess. The low key nature of the event should have been apparent when they asked for 1h30 runners to make their way to the front, and only 3 of us stepped forward. A local Tonbridge runner braving the conditions in just shorts and vest, a member of team Freespeed and myself opting for a long sleeve top. As Mr Freespeed sped off up the road and trails, the rest of us settled in for our day out in the park. On lap 1, conditions under foot were not too bad, enough grass available to grip with only a few tricky descents. The course is undoubtedly delightful on the right day, a mix of trails and fields and country lanes, plenty of variety in gradient, surface and scenery. Somewhere on lap2 it stopped raining, but I canít say I noticed. Much more mud to slip on the 2nd time around, and a bit more congestion now we were joined on track by 10K runners and triathletes, but the course was never too crowded. I canít say I really raced the course, I always intended to run comfortably for the first lap and then lap 2 ended up being more about staying upright. By then I was in a clear 2nd place and just concentrating on completing my longest run of 2018.

My experience of the event is almost certainly clouded by the conditions, but it felt like the run was a sideshow. A few points on the course were poorly marked, with volunteers either absent or not prepared. I wouldnít be surprised if they had had a few no-shows from volunteers and were a bit stretched as a result. Fair enough they have to prioritise safety and marshalling the bike course, and I would have hated to have been a volunteer out there all day yesterday, but if you pay for this event it is not cheap Ė and not even a goody bag as compensation for the runners. On another day you get to spend the afternoon at a lovely venue enjoying the stalls, fairground rides and castle grounds, but yesterday I wasnít hanging around, and neither were most other people. Having said that, I wouldnít rule out returning to a Castle Tri event in the future.

It was bright sunshine by the time I got home and I even had a sunny Ė if cold Ė bike commute this morning to try and ease out my legs. My original end of October target race has been cancelled so I may have to find another event if I want to put a representative time against my current run fitness, before winter truly kicks in and I retreat to the garage to hibernate.

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Joined: 19 May 2007
Posts: 446

PostPosted: Mon Oct 22, 2018 10:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

So I found my end of October road half marathon, and the weather gods smiled brightly on a cool crisp morning. Training had gone well over the last few weeks, hitting the key sessions and keeping the run miles relatively high. So I was confident as long as I didnít get too carried away at the start I could set a representative benchmark. Trouble was, Iíve done so few run only races over the last few years Iíve little reference to what constitutes over enthusiasm, and when the 1st mile is net downhill itís easy to convince yourself that the sub-6 minute pace is just due to gravity.

Once I settled into a pace through the country lanes, I was still ahead of predictions, but decided to go with it. I was ticking off 6:10 miles apart from when the terrain tilted up, and even then I seemed stronger than those around me. It wasnít until the scenery turned more industrial and the miles ticked into double figures that I started to struggle. The final mile retraced to the start, so regained the altitude. A tough end, but I hung on for a 1:21 clocking. Happy with that, even if it was over a minute behind a 4 time Ironman World Champion.

Now back on the bike until Christmas.
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