Thursday, 28 July 2011

My momentous Dartford half marathon

I've been very slack in writing up my Dartford race which was five days ago now, but the more I've been thinking about it, the more important it's felt to me, and the less sure I was about what to write.

The race itself was ok although nothing spectacular, and I probably wouldn't do it again to be honest.  My race review that I submitted on the Runner's World site is also at the bottom of this post, if you're interested - it's a hilly run, not the best organisation, with a mixture of pretty country lanes, running along a horrible main road on a narrow path, and finishing with a lap of an athletics track.

But, for me, it wasn't the route, or the lovely marshals, or even the time I ran in that was the most important thing about this race (my time incidentally was 02:00:15 - a PB and a fraction off my sub2hr target which I would have blasted if it hadn't been so hilly!).  The Dartford Half Marathon, for me, was a turning point I think in my running - it was the first time I feel I truly raced at an event.  I targeted other runners and overtook them from about the third mile all the way to the end, I ran as hard as I could despite the hills, and I ran pretty much the whole of the 13th mile at a bit of a sprint pace (for a plodder like me), completing it in under 8 minutes, desperate to beat the runners in front of me, especially the very slim and fit looking ones!  I felt so strong throughout the race, in my lungs and my legs - turning my training up a notch recently (4 days a week rather than 3 days) has made a big difference in my fitness, and I suppose losing a stone in the last 6 weeks must also have had something to do with it too.  I really did feel like a proper runner...and I love that feeling, it's what keeps me going!  I enjoyed it so much that the actually course itself was a bit secondary - it was the feeling of pushing myself that was so good - although the exhilaration of running fast downhill will always be the very best thing about running ;)

2011 race reviewed by: naominf
Overall score
Would you do it again?
PB potential
In short: Decent, hilly race but needs work to make it great
In full: There was much made about the fact that this race is in it's 35th year, so it surprised me a bit that it wasn't that slick an operation. From the big queue to drop off baggage because we had to wait for a label to be written for each person, to the unclear, poorly signposted winding route in the last mile, to running out of goody bags at the end of the race (and I finished in 2hrs so wasn't one of the last) - it just didn't seem as organised as I'd expect when everyone's had so much practise. However, the marshals were excellent, the water stops frequent (and even stocked with bananas), the locals were very supportive and the hills, although horrendous, were a positive challenge...and the medal was pretty good too! Generally the route was around pretty countryside, although I didn't particularly enjoy the narrow path along the main road. All in all, a good morning's work, but glad I didn't have to travel too far for it, as this wasn't the historic race I was expecting.
Date of review: July 25, 2011

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