Brighton Marathon Training – Week 11 / Surrey Half Marathon Race Report

This week I did almost nothing except run a half marathon, so my training report will be mostly a race report!

Quick summary though:

Total: 16.1 miles

Thursday: 3 miles at 8:39/mile

Gentle bimble, as I hadn’t run in a while. Was feeling sore and slow but it was good just to get out on the road.

Sunday: 13.1 miles at 7:12/mile

Sunday was the Surrey Half Marathon, which I ran mainly because a friend was doing it, but it’s always nice doing a half marathon during training. Good to practice race strategy, kit and logistics – and of course racing is always fun and focusing on just one big event seems a waste.

Surrey Half Marathon is in Woking, which makes it nice and accessible from London. The race village is central and easy to get to from the station, and had lots of space and plenty of stalls, food stands, and toilets – always a good sign.

The route itself is one of the best I’ve done. A big loop on fully closed roads (not even just closed one-way – totally closed, not a car in sight) through beautiful Surrey countryside. That made for nice wide roads so no issues with the pack blocking your progress. The terrain is mostly quite flat with a few gentle rolls, so lots of potential to get decent results, and there were sufficient aid stations handing out water in small sports-capped bottles. That’s a plus, for me, although I do understand why many races prefer paper cups. Nothing else was available on the course – no gels or even sports drinks – but I don’t particularly care, nutrition isn’t a big issue for half marathons and people who really need that stuff can carry it themselves.

Support was, as for most of these sorts of small events, particularly ones through the countryside, mostly restricted to a few key areas and of course at the finish. That was fine though, I enjoyed the peace and quiet for most of the route.

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One huge plus for this race is that all the photos are available free! Obviously I understand why most races charge for photos (the photographers are usually third-parties and have to make a profit) so I don’t begrudge it, but a race that has found a way to give them away free is a rare and beautiful thing. That said, the one caveat is that as far as I could tell there was only one photo station on the course, right at the finish, so don’t expect a huge range of snaps.

Overall, for me, Surrey gets one thumbs-up; definitely a race I would do again, and one that is worth going some a small distance out of your way to do. 👍🏻

As for my own performance, I didn’t really have a time in mind for this. My PB is 1:33, but I hadn’t done much half-marathon-specific training and it’s a long time since I ran a half at my own pace (I’ve been running as an official pacer or with friends mostly). Equally, I have been running a lot for the marathon so I thought that might help a bit.

Annoyingly, I managed to leave my Garmin at home so ended up running with just a digital watch in stop-watch mode. That definitely made it harder to monitor my pace and, I would argue, harder to gently push myself in the second half as I might have liked. I could obviously roughly track my pace by timing between each mile marker, but I found that I kept slipping back to the same roughly 7:15 pace no matter what I tried to do.

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On the other hand, not having any reason to constantly glance at my watch and worry about my pace was surprisingly liberating and in a way made the run more fun. I wouldn’t do it for a race I really cared about, but I’d be tempted to try more runs without looking at my pace. And in the end, I got a respectable – though not PB – time of just sub 1:35 (official time was 1:34:53). I wasn’t completely destroyed at the end and I suspect I could have pushed myself a little harder, but it’s always hard to judge, and overall I’m definitely happy with that performance.

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