I completed the Birmingham half marathon last year in 2:59:47, however the weather conditions were very different! It was a relatively hot day in 2017, but unfortunately we had heavy rain all day on October 14th 2018. The course had also changed this year; gone was the hated hill towards the end as the course was now almost reversed. The hill was now at the start of the race and we got to run down it instead. With only two weeks since my last half marathon, how would I get on?
The Morning of the Event:
7:30am and my alarm goes off. Chris makes me breakfast, my usual Apple and Blueberry Quaker Oats, whilst I get dressed. This was going to be my first run where I was truly solo; Chris was having to wait in for a plumber to attend and couldn’t go with me. I ate my breakfast and double checked the tram times.
After getting ready, Chris dropped my off at the tram station and I headed to the start. I don’t know Birmingham all that well so followed a bunch of other runner-looking people. The rain was heavy and I was already freezing. Before leaving the house, at the very last minute I had grabbed my “rain and wind proof” hi-vis running jacket, and I was glad of that decision!
I made it to the Pink wave start area around 25 minutes early. We were told that race numbers had to be on display, meaning that I would have to unzip my jacket before I crossed the start line.
The Pink wave was scheduled to start at 11:05 and set off at precisely that time. For the first mile, I ran with a friend of Chris’s; he’s faster than me but I decided I would run the first mile with him anyway. I got to the first mile marker and decided that I had best slow down as I didn’t want to burn out for the rest of the race. My mile 1 pace was 11:03, however there was a bit of downhill in there too.
I was aiming for sub 2:40, or to at least beat my personal best of 2:42:53. For my splits I was aiming for around 12-12:10 minute miles. I didn’t really have a plan coming into the race, just to keep an eye on my average pace. Ideally I wanted to get the 6 mile point with an average pace of 11:50-11:55 as that would give me a little bit of wiggle room to slow down over the second half.
My second mile came in at 11:25, with my third a little slower at 11:40. For the first 3 miles I was feeling strong. After the first 6 minutes my watch had told me that my performance condition was +10, so I knew that I was on for a good race. Mile 4 picked the pace back up to 11:29, but averaged back out as mile 5 was 12:17.
Miles 6, 7, 8 and 9 followed the same pattern; mile 6 was 11:49 but then 12:16 for mile 7, with mile 8 at 11:53 but 9 at 12:15. I actually got a new 10k personal best of 1:11:02 (previously 1:13:58). It was at mile 10 that I actually noticed the sub-2:30 pacer right next to me! He started in the middle of the Pink wave, however I was at the front, so I wasn’t quite on for the sub-2:30. Miles 10-13 I manager to keep an almost even average pace of between 11:41-11:46 as I tried to stay around the sub-2:30 pacer. Even though I knew that sub-2:30 was not on the cards as he had started after me, I knew that he hadn’t been that far behind me to start with so I was definitely pacing for sub-2:40.
Mile 13 had a pretty steep hill climb around 800 metres from the finish line. Most of us were reduced to a walk as we tackled it. There was a little downhill section not long after that which helped to make up some of the time lost. I saw the 200 metre sign and it was a struggle to keep my legs moving.
I crossed the line and stopped my Garmin, however I noticed that it had recorded a distance of 13.07. Knowing that this wouldn’t count as a new half marathon personal best, I continued to run towards the finisher’s bags until I reached 13.10 and then stopped my watch again.
I grabbed a small finisher’s bag (yes, they actually had some left this time) and double checked to ensure that my medal was in the bag. I then had to ask for directions to the Metro before heading home.
My Garmin time was 2:33:48, however I knew that my official time should be even quicker due to the distance discrepancy. My official time was 2:33:29!
Before the start of the race, I couldn’t event have imagined breaking the 2:35 mark. I thought that sub-2:40 so soon after my last half marathon was going to be a challenge. Needless to say, I was over the moon with the result and now have my eyes set on a sub-2:30 for my next half marathon in 2019.
The weather conditions really didn’t play nice and there were a lot of puddles and water on the road surface. Despite the poor conditions, the support from the spectators and marshals was again brilliant. The Simplyhealth Birmingham Half Marathon is definitely one of my favourite events.