The Robin Hood Half Marathon takes place in Nottingham and the 2018 run was the 38th time that the half marathon event has taken place.
My training hadn’t been the greatest due to suffering with IBS and having multiple doctors and hospital visits. The longest training run I had managed in the build-up had been 11.5 miles, consisting of intervals where I warmed up for 0.25 mile, ran steady for 2 miles then had a 0.25 mile walk break before repeating this process five times so that I had ran 10 miles and walked for 1.5; this took me 2:30:54.
It took us just over an hour to drive into Nottingham, and I wasn’t in the best of moods as I had been unable to find my “long distance race socks” that got me through the London Marathon; they are double lined to prevent blisters and were extremely comfortable – I even broke the sacred “nothing new on race day” rule as I had never ran in them before donning them for my first ever marathon! We parked on the Nottingham Forest Football Club carpark and it was around a 5 minute walk to the starting area.
The event started at 9:30 for the first wave, however I was in the last wave, orange, so started at the back of the pack with coloured markers indicating where to line up for each wave. It took just over 18 minutes to cross the starting line and the starting point was very congested, making it hard to get into a steady rhythm, but also ensuring that I didn’t set off too fast. After the first turn, the road opened up a little and the pack started to spread out with people running at their own paces. At around the 6 minute mark, my watch vibrated to say that my performance condition was +4, so I was on good form for a personal best.
Just after mile 1 and the course started to get a bit hilly until around the 3 mile mark – mile 2.5-3 was really steep and definitely a struggle for my legs; I really need to add hill sessions to my training, I have a session programmed on my Garmin but I always switch them for easier runs as I hate hills! My average pace for mile 1 was 12:44 and mile 2 picked up to 12:41, however mile 3 slowed to 13:17 thanks to those pesky hills. Mile 4 picked back up as there was a downhill section and then surprisingly all of the miles after that were quicker than my mile 2 pace.
There were water stations every 3 miles, with the second one being just before the 6 mile mark through the deer park; I picked up a pack of water (there were no water bottles at the event, instead the water was handed out in soft plastic pouches) and a bottle of Lucozade, however I never even opened the water as I saw a lot of people struggling to drink from the new pouch method, so instead decided to stick to the Lucozade. The deer park was well populated with spectators and also a race photographer… there was also another steep hill climb. This section of the race was probably my favourite, despite the hill, as it was quite scenic and felt relaxing to run through after I had passed the crowds.
I was aiming for a 12:30 average pace, as I knew that would get me under the 2:45 mark which was the primary goal. My first half marathon was October 2017 and I finished with a time of 2:59:47. I kept glancing at my watch to ensure that my average pace stayed below the 12:30 mark, and felt quite comfortable that I would be able to hit my target, however I was all too aware of how difficult the last 2 or 3 miles are as I faded during my last half marathon attempt.
I passed the 12 mile mark and was starting to struggle, my pace was at 12:24 but it was feeling really tough to keep moving as my legs were starting to stiffen up. I reached the gates to the entrance of the Memorial Gardens where the race started and was longing to see the finish line. I saw the starting line and asked a marshal if that was also the finish line, however I was informed that I still had half a mile to go. I ran for what seemed like forever, before having to slow to a walk to ask another spectator where the finish line was… the response was “another half a mile to go” – it felt like the longest mile ever, without even considering the 0.1 after that!
Finally, I saw Chris who told me that the finish line was a bit further down to the right then straight and left. I was really struggling and just walking at this point to try and save some energy for the final sprint finish. I knew that I had the sub 2:45 in the bag and could afford to walk a little. Chris started to jog alongside me on the other side of the barrier, so I started to jog along as best as I could. After what felt like an eternity from mile 12.5, the mile 13 marker came into sight… just 0.1 of a mile to go. I picked up the pace and ran hard for a sprint finish, overtaking a couple of people along the way. I ran the last 0.1 (or 0.22 according to my Garmin) in 10:21, with a best pace of 7:20.
My final time, as per my Garmin and the official race results as they were actually both identical, was 2:42:53. I was over the moon to have exceeded my goal, as I thought that if I did hit the sub 2:45 it would be by a few seconds. My training in the run up hadn’t been great due to health issues and also letting myself slack off – there were a few days where I had cut sessions shorter than planned as I was struggling or hadn’t fuelled properly throughout the day so didn’t have the energy to push through. I’m contemplating entering the Birmingham Half Marathon as this was my first half and they have changed the course this year so that it is meant to be a little faster as they have removed the final uphill section at the end and you now run down it at the start, although the elevation profile looks like there are hills at miles 7 and 9 which could be just as troublesome for my pace if I were to enter; I’m secretly hoping that I might be able to sneak under 2:40, however that might be pushing it a little too far at the moment so I’m apprehensive about entering another half so soon.
The review for the Robin Hood Half Marathon 2018 can be found here.
Official Time and Splits:
|Official finishing time
|Around the 6 mile mark after a tough hill
|The final sprint