This was the fourth Ealing Half Marathon, and my fourth Ealing Half marathon. I used to work in Ealing so it's become a tradition for me to enter, but also because it's a really well organised, friendly race, with fantastic local support. And the sun always shines, despite it being held in late September. It's the UK's best half marathon for good reason.
My previous results
2012: 1.48:30 - PB (Mood: grumpy)
2013: 1.40:09 - PB (Mood: delighted)
2014: 2.03:15 - pacing a friend (Mood: happy)
This year I was using the race as a test to see how my calf injury was progressing and whether the Kingston marathon in two weeks was even possible. Having not run more than 13 miles since my DNF at the Thames Path 100 in May, I wasn't sure how a half marathon would feel. I knew I had some speed but did I still have any stamina?
My plan was to start with the 1.40 pacers and see how it felt. The trick was to test myself without pushing it so hard I got injured again. The weather was sunny, slightly cool at the start and dry. And apart from tripping up the stairs and smacking my head against the wall on Friday evening, I was in good shape.
Here are some of thoughts on the way round.
Mile 1 (7:59)
Hanging with the pacers. This is nice and comfortable. I can do this.
Mile 2 (7:51)
Why is there a water station so early on? Madness!
Mile 3 (7:39)
Where is the next water station? I'm parched!
Mile 4 (7:19)
Ah, I remember this downhill section. Can it all be downhill please?
Mile 5 (7:37)
Mile 6 (7:41)
Kids love a high five don't they? Well, a low five. Why is that man still in his pyjamas?
Mile 7 (7:28)
Hmm. The pacers are getting away but only by 10 or 15 seconds. I can still do this.
Mile 8 (7:51)
I really should have done some hills in training. Maybe I can't do this.
Mile 9 (7:34)
Pacers are 30 seconds ahead now. No more big hills left though. Come on legs!
Mile 10 (7:45)
Focus on form, forget the pain, glory awaits.
Mile 11 (7:37)
Just a parkrun to go. I can do a parkrun!
Mile 12 (7:28)
Where is the mile 12 marker?!
Mile 13 (7:35)
There are the pacers! Sprint* finish!
* ungainly stagger
Absolutely spent, absolutely delighted.
One of the things I've learnt by running ultras is that your body is capable of far more than your mind realises. I hadn't trained specifically to run a fast (for me) half marathon, and I definitely felt fitter in 2013. I got this PB by ignoring my body and telling myself repeatedly that I could do it and I would do it. It would have been incredibly easy to give up on my target - I had plenty of ready-made excuses - but as the saying goes, "Of course it hurts. The trick is not minding that it hurts."
So not a perfect race but a pleasing one. My calf didn’t bother me which gives me hope for Kingston marathon in two weeks. Now I just have to run twice as far and not much slower for another PB...