Bristol Half Marathon (1:36:10)

Happy Wednesday! It’s very chilly here down the South of the UK. I imagine it’s a lot colder up north as well. Brrr.

So Sunday Ben and me ran the Bristol Half Marathon (which has been going for twenty-five years – wow). Like I said in my last post, we stayed with friends so we wouldn’t have to get up at ridiculous O’clock and drive an hour and a half to get there. And, more importantly, we got to see our friends which was lovely.

We got up at 6.30am, had breakfast and then drove to the park and ride. We got the bus into the race village and it was perfectly un-stressful. Bristol race village

The race village was set in the heart of this lovely area with lots of cafés and restaurants and cool water things.Bristol fountain

The only annoying thing was that Ben was starting in a wave 30 minutes after me (10am) so he had a bit more hanging around to do than I did.Bristol reflection picture

Bit of fun photo taking with the massive reflective sphere

We said our goodbyes and I headed to my wave 15 minutes before the start.

Bristol half marathon start

It was cold. I wore my capris rather than shorts but I was still only wearing a vest. I looked longingly at the bin bags some people has ingeniously thought to bring. The elites and white wave went off first and then we followed soon after.

Mile one (7.28): Always feels fine. The tide of people just keeps you sailing along. I was going a bit faster than I’d planned but I didn’t worry too much as it was by 10-15 seconds. However, I suddenly needed to pee.

Mile two (7.25): We were able to see Clifton Suspension Bridge in the distance, which we were heading under.Running Bristol half

I had my phone in my arm band for music and just had to take a photo so this required a bit of jiggling about while running which is never easy. But I’m glad I got the photo! Annoyingly a few metres on was a much better photo in terms of scenery. Ah well.

Mile three (7.20): The feeling of needing to pee was still there. I had peed before the race so I tried to convince myself I didn’t need to go. I saw men dash off to the sides of the race to pee and looked at them enviously.

At this point I knew I couldn’t not go to the loo. The deciding factor was that I couldn’t think about needing to pee for next 10 miles. So I made a game plan. I could see way ahead a portable loo so I sprinted like a stupid person, peed in record breaking time and got back out there and sprinted a little to gain back time. I ended up back next to the same person I was running next to before. Hurrah. Anna 1 bladder 0.

Mile four (7.24): This was a turnaround point so we headed back along the same road but from the other side. I didn’t actually mind this as the scenery was nice and the road was so flat. It also meant I could amuse myself by looking at the runners on the other side. I was desperately scanning the crowds to see if I could find Ben.

Miles five (7.21) to six (7.25): I was now consistently running 10 seconds faster than I hoped and was feeling really good. It didn’t feel like too much of an effort so I held that pace. Around this point I was still scanning for Ben when I saw Mary on the other side. It was so quick but it was nice to see another blogger (she did 90 minutes of running before the half as preparation for her upcoming ultra <- epic).

Then just before going under the bridge again I saw Ben. He looked so happy and strong it really made me smile. I was just so chuffed! We shouted to each other and carried on.

When we went under a tunnel I found myself near the 1:40 pacers which panicked me a bit as I was aiming for a bit below that. As we went through the tunnel one of the pacers shouted “Oggie oggie oggie!” and everyone responded “Oi! oi! oi!”. It was brilliant.

Miles 8 (7.34) to 9 (7.20): Still feeling happy and enjoying it. I had picked up a gel from one of the stations a few miles ago (hello, freebie!) and it was nice to hold on to in a weird way. I picked up another one as we passed the next station as well. I thought to myself “I definitely want to take one of these home. But the other one will be if I feel I need it”. It was nice to have that safety net. It was also chilled which was a lovely touch from the marshals.

Mile 10 (7.10) to 11 (7.12): I took one of the gels as I wanted to increase my speed further and whether psychologically or physically, I needed to have that gel. It was a tasty one and a nice thin consistency – a High5 gel. I recommend!

Miles 12 (7.14) to 13 (6.56): I don’t remember mile 12 but mile 13 is where I picked it up as much as I could. This was the only part of the race I didn’t enjoy.

Bristol half marathon final mile

Last stretch I put my all in

It was painful and it felt like 5k effort.

Bristol half 15.09.13

My official time was 1:36:10. This is a five minute PB for me! I am SO pleased. And I loved the whole race (bar the last mile). It just felt comfortable and I felt in the zone.

As soon as I finished and picked up my goodie bag and medal. People were thrusting leaflets into my hands and then a lady told me there were free physio massages. I went straight there and got in the queue. Hell yes.

The physio said my hips were unbelievably tight and that no wonder I’d been having IT band issues and groin pain. Whoops. She gave me some great advice though while torturing the hell out of my lower back and upper bum (technical term).

Then I got our bag from the bagging area and a cup of tea and did some stretching while I waiting for Ben. When I saw him he had a big grin on his face. He’d smashed his ‘conservative’ target of 2:10 and pipped his ‘dream’ target of 1:57 and got 1:56:21. Nice work!

Post-Bristol half marathon

Then we headed back to the bus and car and did a quick ‘let’s get naked in the middle of car park in the freezing cold’ to get out of our sweaty stuff and into our spare clothes. We have all the fun.

We started our drive back with the intention of finding a restaurant mid-way home and found a lovely pub called the Bird in Hand.

Bird in Hand

I chose the Caesar salad and granary baguette with a side order of fresh veg. I just really fancied it.

Post-Bristol meal

That Caesar salad…oh it was HEAVENLY.

Chicken Ceasar salad

I inhaled it I was so hungry. Perfect post-race food.

I thoroughly enjoyed the Bristol Half Marathon. It’s probably my second favourite race. Cheddar Gorge half is still my top as it was such an adventure. But Bristol was brilliant as it was so flat, the crowds were great, I felt in the zone and Ben enjoyed it too.Bristol Half Marathon Medal

From this experience I just know that half marathons are my favourite distance (so far). During a 5k and a 10k I am holding on and pushing the entire time. This didn’t feel painful. It felt refreshing and I loved it.

What’s your favourite race distance?

What’s the last race or next race you’re doing? Mine is the Great South Run in October.

Do you plan your pacing before the race? In my mind I wanted to run 7.30min/miles with a push at the end.