So here we are in the week of the Great Eastern Run, my first ever half marathon and the biggest event of my running career so far. The weather is looking wet, my immune system is feeling shattered, but overall I think I’m about as ready as I’ll ever be.
I know that I’m going to be nervous before the race, because I’m nervous before every race.
I’ve even felt nervous before park runs before, just because I put so much pressure on myself to meet my own expectations – so even when it’s just a lowkey 5k I get a little jittery. I’ve no doubt that before this race, which I’ve been preparing for over the last 3 months, those jitters may be slightly more pronounced. This week I’m just trying to manage those expectations. I want to do well, but the problem with this being my first half marathon is that what equates to doing well is only a guess, albeit a calculated one.
Essentially, I need to chill out and run the damn thing.
My last hard/moderate session is in the bag, now it’s about resting up and keeping the legs as fresh as possible for the Sunday event. To try and quell those Saturday night/Sunday morning nerves – that I’m sure are likely to come about – I’ve been practising what I intend to be my routine before and during the race. Usually I run first thing, with little more than some caffeine and water to fuel me, but because the race is a little later in the morning than what I’m used to (plus it’s a longer distance and increased effort) I’m going to need some extra energy.
So, breakfast: Toast, peanut butter, banana (no coffee!) about 3 hours out from the start of the race. I’m not used to taking on gels and water during my runs, but I’ve no doubt I’m going to need some. Water stations will be every three miles on the route, so no problem there, and I have tested a few gels just to make sure they sit with my stomach okay – I intend to take one with caffeine about half an hour out from the race, and another (non-caffeine) about halfway around.
Other than definitely thinking about the race a bit more than I would really like to be thinking about it, I have also been spending my time trying pretty hard to not go running. The most reassuring thing I can think about doing before the run is going running, but I can’t!
Well, I could.
But I won’t, because I shouldn’t.
Glycogen stores and all that.
9 Months Until Tokyo
To distract me, let’s talk athletics.
Last week when the World Athletics Championships were on I talked a little about how disappointed I was in the severe and obvious lack of support, with many events being performed in front of rows and rows of empty seats, and in the case of a superb marathon race: empty streets. Although I don’t have anything else to say on the disappointing organisational failings of the championships I am interested in reviewing what, on paper, was also a disappointing event from the perspective of the Great British team.
They took home five medals, the lowest tally since Helsinki 2005, but there is a lot to be hopeful for only 9 months out from Tokyo 2020.
There’s no denying the disappointments. The men’s 4x400m was a disaster, and the women missed out on a medal after Jamaica’s initial disqualification was overturned.
Then there were the near misses. Gemili in the 200m ran excellently and was a fraction away from a medal. In his post-race interview his crushing disappointment was evident. He can use that next year, and we may see him upgrade from that most painful of positions up onto the podium.
In the marathon Callum Hawkins ran one of the most impressive marathons I have seen, but he couldn’t hold on for a medal and slipped to 4th place finish. He ran an incredibly consistent race and then was brave enough at the end to surge towards the lead group and try to take control of the running. In the end the Ethiopian pair of Desisa, the winner, and Geremew had too much in the locker, and the Kenyan Amos Kipruto was able to dig in to clinch that final medal place. Still, it was tremendously entertaining and Hawkins performance was one to remember and relish.
Then there are the more obvious moments of excellence. Dina Asher-Smith walked away from Doha with three medals around her neck, a bona fide athletics superstar, and one that the world will be watching when Tokyo takes centre stage.
And Katerina Johnson-Thompson! We all knew what an excellent athelete she was, and a medal was always on the cards, but to beat Nafissatou Thiam by 304 points and secure a British record alongside a glorious gold medal was perhaps beyond hope – but she did it, and I’d back her to only improve come next years Olympic competition.
So no, on paper it wasn’t a great competition, but it doesn’t take a huge amount of digging to see the potential in this team. The World Championships are a massive competition and every athlete will relish the chance to medal in them, but the Olympics are the pinnacle, the event around which all training cycles revolve.
Team GB will be in peak condition come 2020, and I expect the medal haul to reflect that.
The Great Eastern Run
What else could it be?
Peterborough is not the most glamorous city, and as such the Great Eastern Run is not the most interesting of runs. However, it will be my first half-marathon ever, so I really couldn’t pick anything else to fill the Race Focus spot this week.
The course is notable for being fast and flat and this year they have picked one of the most popular (read: fastest and flatest) run routes available to the city. Like all of the Great runs it will be absolutely rammed, and thousands of runners will be sharing their pain together on the closed (and probably rained soaked) streets of the city.
If you fancy giving one of the fastest half marathons in the country a go (next year) then check out the website for more information.