Entering The Indian Queens Half Marathon
On Sunday, I ran a half marathon. It wasn’t in the plan. I had a nice race calendar going on, with the highlight being a fabulously well organised, beautiful but brutal 11 mile coast path run, called the Roseland August Trail.
For some reason, I toyed with the idea of entering the Indian Queens half marathon the week before. After careful deliberation and a “why not?”, I secured my bib number in the nick of time.
In The Half Marathon Zone?
When I’m set to race, I’m usually pumped right up. I don’t sleep well the night before because I am riddled with excitement and nerves. With all races, performance on the day is just as much connected to the mental strategies we use to stay strong, as it is on fitness and training.
With the Indian Queens half marathon, I didn’t feel so enthusiastic. Over breakfast, I commented that I had “a feeling” about it which, lets face it, isn’t a good starting point.
I had doubts for a number of reasons.
First of all, it wasn’t in the plan. Spontaneity is good but the race that mattered to me most was a week later. I think I was apprehensive about jeopardising it. The adrenaline wasn’t working its usual magic and the difference was apparent.
Secondly, the Indian Queens half marathon selling point is, it’s a fast, flat course. A true rarity in Cornwall. I’d done loads of hill reps and heaven only knows how many steps I’ve run up and down over the past months to build up my resilience. A flat half marathon course should be a walk in the park.
This wasn’t helpful for my mindset though.
I put considerable pressure in myself before the race even started, believing I should be able to sustain sub 9:00 min miles at least for the duration of the course.
To be fair, I’m capable, I have the pace but telling myself that wasn’t the best motivator. This is Cornwall, there are no other fast, flat runs. I felt I had to go for broke.
The First Half (of the half)
The first 3 or 4 miles pace-wise were fine. I was sub 7:30, 7:45, and 8:45, yet for some reason my brain wouldn’t connect with my body.
The mental messages going through my mind were unhelpful.
By mile 4, my legs felt like they were made of metal – heavy, dense, and an effort to pick up. Good old maladaptive thoughts prevailed, you know the usual stuff, “I can’t do this”, “this is awful”, “I will never do this in under 2 hours.” Usually, such doubts are quickly squashed by getting caught up in the event, the atmosphere, and knowing I have what it takes to complete the course.
By mile 6 I was crying. Ridiculous. Even the brass band in the middle of the trail didn’t perk me up.
Some lovely runners offered encouragement and it was a case of taking it mile by mile. Sometimes, 0.3 of a mile at a time. I must have walked for part of every mile; something else that wasn’t in the plan.
Red Rag To a Bull…
Things changed a bit around mile 9 to 10. Sure, there’s only about 5k to go, that was a good reframe for me.
The thing that drove me on and made me think, “THAT definitely isn’t happening” is seeing a runner with headphones.
If there is one thing I don’t like, it’s cheating. As soon as I saw her wearing them, I decided in an instant I was going to come in ahead of her. It felt good to have something to spurn me on. I tried to claw back some time, knowing the sub 2 goal was long gone. I wish I had seen her at mile 5.
Ifs, Buts and Maybes
Looking back, obviously it wasn’t my best race or half marathon.
Sadly, I didn’t enjoy the experience but I’m hoping it was a poor rehearsal for the race yet to happen.
Once done, I didn’t feel rubbish though. If I had my phone on me while running, I probably would have made a call and asked to be picked up. A DNF would have been worse under the circumstances.
Afterwards, I was sure there was no way I would want do that half marathon again; thanks but no thanks. That feeling didn’t last as long as my achey legs. I think each race comes with it’s own learning, and we learn the most from the events that don’t go to plan.
Indian Queens, I think we have unfinished business, I might be back next year. I have a score to settle.
Happy running, Penny.