It was time to put my speed training to the test. After the NDW50 I stopped doing 100k+ weeks and concentrated on speed work. To check if it all worked out I was going to run the Richmond Park Half Marathon organised by RunThrough. They are the same cool guys that organised the Wimbledon Common Half I’ve ran last summer and really enjoyed. So I was sure it was going to be a small event like I prefer, but well organised. By the way, I will run the Wimbledon one again next month.
In the week leading to the race I took it easy:
Tuesday I ran 12km at 4:48/km on very tired legs.
Thursday I felt a lot better after a day rest and ran 15km at 4:28/km and on Friday I did an easy 10km at 4:44/km. On Saturday I rested and ate a lot of pasta.
So race day arrived. I was quite thrilled, I had not run an half marathon since last November and I was really looking forward to it especially as it was taking place basically in my backyard. I have run in Richmond Park so much that I was quite curious to see how it would feel to actually race in it.
The day started very sunny and hot and I cycled to the race start. When I got there there were already quite a lot of runners basking in the sun lying in the grass waiting for the start.
The race was made up of 4 laps. I do not usually like races with laps, but I found out it has its advantages.
The sun was shining and the day was hot when we started. The first part of each lap was uphill, gently, but still uphill, on a large gravel path for a couple of km, then at the top of the hill near Richmond Gate it turned left on pavement going mostly downhill and then the final bit was on a grassy, very uneven path.
The plan was to run around 4:00/4:10 m/km for the first 3 laps and then accelerate in the last one. As usual the plan was forgotten straight away.
The first lap I kept a pace just below 4:00 except for the final grassy/sandy last km that I found super hard on the legs. In the second lap I really found it hard going uphill again. It was also very hot. Every lap I would take a small bottle of water and by the end of the lap I would have drunk half of it and splashed the other half on my head. I have become too used to British weather, when I’ll run in Italy this summer I will melt.
The cool thing about it being a laps race was that I could adapt my pace to what was coming and my strategy became: do what you can uphill and then bomb it downhill. So I alternated slower kms at 4:21 going up with well below 4:00 m/km in the downhill bits.
I really enjoyed it as it became a real race between me and a couple of other people. I ran a lot of km with a guy and we were pushing each other quite a bit. I had to run faster than 3:40 for a couple of km to be sure he would not catch up with me. I am sure he could feel we were fighting too, and I enjoy that, especially as I finished faster then him. After the first lap I also learnt where it was better to run on the grassy final bit (avoid the central sandy part!) and it became much easier.
After the second lap we started lapping a lot of people so I could not really guess in which position I was. I started the race hoping I would finish in the top 15 so I was pretty happy when I crossed the finish line and heard the speaker say I was 10th. Even happier when the official results showed I was 9th! It is always good to finish in the top 10, I love it.
I was not expecting to do a PB as it was not a flat race so I was not too surprised by not even finishing with an average below 4:00 m/km, but I am very happy with the final result and the “racing” feeling I felt. You know when the legs go faster than you expect and they feel like they know what they are doing, you feel good. I could have pushed a bit more uphill in the second and third lap. Easy to say now!
Overall a very good fun race, very well organised and as always Richmond Park was amazing.
If you are interested you can see my Strava of the race here.
I cycled back home and had a massive barbecue with friends. Unfortunately all the sun that made me sweat the first 2 laps was gone and it was actually raining. Not ideal for cooking sausages, but I really enjoyed the company and the cold beer.
See you on the trails!