My first Taunton half marathon and a particularly convenient one; I could jog to the start line in 5 minutes. After a short recce of the hills on Saturday, with a friend Tim, we didn’t think they seemed too bad and the course should be reasonably quick. Forecast was showing a bit of wind but nothing too blustery, certainly not like the world half marathon champs the week before. A leisurely 10.30am start, and I found myself lined up with a few old team mates from Torbay. Simon Longthorpe who should have a good shot at winning it and Arron Tocknell+ Pete Monaghan, who I think might have once been a previous winner here. Come to think of it, the last time I saw all of these guys together was when we ran the Erme valley relays and Torbay came top team.
I set off a lot more cautiously than I have done on a few runs this year. I was aiming for a time somewhere around the 78 minute mark. I found myself in a group of 5 quite early on. I thought it might be a bit slow – indeed, It was a little slower than I wanted to be running but probably worked out to be around the right pace on the day. I pushed off the front a couple of times but I wasn’t putting out much of a quicker pace and dropped back with the group, switching the front a bit with another guy to get some shelter from the wind. The pace was steady. People were chatting for the first 5 miles and after a couple of quicker start miles, we went through 10k around 37.03 I think.
It was nice to run in a group but I was hoping to be ticking off faster miles. I knew I needed sub 6 minute miles for around a 78min finish but they weren’t there today. Miles 6 and 7 felt harder and they were 6.06 minute miles so I new I wasn’t on for a great time. Never mind. There will be other days. At Mile 10 we hit Bradford on Avon and there was a cheeky little hill, quite steep, that I wasn’t expecting. I remeber thinking this was tough so I was right to be in this group, rather than try to push harder from the beginning. We were also working together quite well, running quite consistent pace and passing a fair few people that had gone off quick and blown-up. I remember passing a couple of people, one at around mile 9 and the other around 12 that were completely gone, practically walking.
Taunton Half – An undualting course on country roads with a couple of hills towards the end and a fast downhill finish
As soon as we hit the Wellington road we knew the next couple of miles would be the hilly part of the run. This is where the group broke apart. One guy who’d been quite good on the hillier parts went out front. I ran behind another guy and overtook him just before the peak of the hill. I had a really nice realisation near the top. I thought I still had another hill to go and realised that it was practically all downhill to the finish. The next mile was a 5.37 zooming down the hills. In some ways that last hilly section on the Wellington road was easiest. I think we got out of the wind a bit more and I found I had a good amount of energy left for the end. Inside the last kilometre I managed to catch the guy that got away on the hills. He said good run as I went past him – it’s nice when people do that.
It was good to see some supporters on the last stretch to the finish. A lot of the run had been on quiet country roads, so it wasn’t one for seeing a lot of people, but the finish at the college was well supported. I crossed the line in 79.24. That last pass was a good thing as It meant I was awarded a voucher for 10th place overall. I’ve never known prizes to run for 10 deep so good on Taunton organisers for doing that. I grabbed a massage and the legs feel pretty good.
Simon Longthorpe had a good race, finishing in 1.12.19 but having to settle for 2nd behind James Laing, down from London for the race. Simon caught James on the last hill after having been around a minute and a half behind, but couldn’t hold him of towards the finish line.
A few days on and I need to get on the bike a bit more. I’ve also got Bristol 10k in just over a month and I’d like to go well there so I need to get some speed work in. This has been my highest mileage run week at 42 miles. If I can stay around that for a while I’ll be happy and I know the times will improve and the PB’s will start to come. Recovery wise, I took the Monday off. If I have a hard race I usually feel it two days later but my legs have been bullet proofed with all these hilly races. I did 35 mins Tuesday morning, felt good, and decided to make it an aim to run pre-work a 2-3 of days a week. Got a short bike in on Tuesday evening and then got landed with a swim time trial at Wednesday’s early swim session. There was no way I could push hard for that. I ended up posting 6.06 for 400m which I reckon is probably about 15-20 secs off my pace if I was feeling fresher. Wednesday evening was a steady run with club, circa 9 miles at 7.12 min/ml pace. Wednesday double session is tough and Thursday morning I dragged myself up to run. It felt awful and the whole day was hard. Then Friday morning I bounced back and the morning run was great. Next big effort is a sportive on the 17th April which should give my bike legs a wake up call.
**Thanks to Photo-Fit.net for supplying free pictures after the event.