Alloa Half Marathon Race Recap – 2017

Alloa Half Marathon Race Recap 2017: a super windy race and an attempt at pacing by feel to run my fastest half marathon yet!

It’s somehow been a full 2 weeks since I lined up ready to go, so here’s a slightly belated Alloa Half Marathon race recap! This half is the first I ever ran, back in 2015, so I know the course reasonably well. This year though, I stood at the start line better prepared and with a target beyond simply finishing.

You can read more about my race plan & training here, but the basic plan was this: start off easy, try not to worry too much about what my Garmin said, and get round in under 1:47.

Alloa Half Marathon Race Recap 2017: a super windy race and an attempt at pacing by feel to run my fastest half marathon yet!

It was a bit of a windy morning, but not quite as bad as the forecast had suggested so I was happy enough as I collected my race number. After a quick warm up & a not-so-quick queue for the toilets, I got myself to the start where I bumped into a friend. A quick chat was perfect to keep me distracted until it was go time!

Miles 1-5

Then the starting gun went and we were off, shuffling our way to the start line. The first mile is a loop around houses and there’s always a good bit of support here.

I started off a little faster than planned but soon settled into a comfortable pace. Although mostly flat, the course is a wee bit undulating over the first few miles, so I didn’t worry too much when the pace on my watch creeped up above 8:10.

The rain made a brief appearance around mile 3 but it was only a wee shower – nothing to worry about!

Mile 1-5 splits: 8:09, 8:06, 8:40, 8:17, 7:43

Alloa Half Marathon Race Recap 2017: a super windy race and an attempt at pacing by feel to run my fastest half marathon yet!Image credit: Colin Anderson (used with permission)

Miles 6-10

After about 5 miles the loooong, straight 4-5 mile stretch begins! I knew that we were likely to be running straight into a headwind, but it didn’t feel too bad to begin with.

Around mile 7 I spotted my parents & Ricky, complete with the usual cow bell and flag! Less usual was their beautiful rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ but it certainly put a smile on my face (and earned me a ‘happy birthday’ from a fellow runner a few miles further on!).

After this the wind really picked up. I tried my best to duck in behind other runners but it seemed to make no difference. Realising that I was still feeling pretty strong, I gave up on my failed attempts at drafting and actually managed to overtake a fair few runners.

By this point I was almost looking forward to turning onto the steep hill at Menstrie Brae, if only to get a break from the relentless wind!

Mile 6-10 splits: 8:16, 8:06, 8:28, 8:20, 8:22

Alloa Half Marathon Race Recap 2017: a super windy race and an attempt at pacing by feel to run my fastest half marathon yet!

Miles 11-13.1

As I turned off the main road I realised that my chances of a sub 1:47 race weren’t looking great. Between the wind and the impending hill I think I’d been too afraid to really start pushing. Still, with 3 miles to go it wasn’t impossible. I decided just to get up Menstrie Brae then push as hard as I could to the finish.

After the fairly steep hill there’s a bit of a long drag that takes you up to 12 miles. At this point I knew it was slightly downhill to the finish, and it was going to be tight. I really pushed hard from there and, honestly, I’ve never felt so strong in the final mile of a race.

By the time I reached the 400m sign I knew it was sprint time. This is the first half marathon where I’ve had any gas left in the tank, and knowing I was so close to my goal really spurred me on. I ran that last 0.1 at 6:10 pace, crossed the line, stopped my watch aaaaand realised I’d missed the mark by 6 seconds!!

Mile 11-13.1 splits: 8:28, 7:56, 7:29, 0:45

Alloa Half Marathon Race Recap 2017: a super windy race and an attempt at pacing by feel to run my fastest half marathon yet!

I’d known it was going to be close, and 1:47:06 is still a PB of over 6 minutes so no complaints here! In hindsight I think having so much left to give in the final mile is probably a sign that I could have pushed a little harder earlier in the race.

Still, it’s all a learning experience and maybe next time I’ll have the confidence to go that little bit faster! I’d planned to wait until September/October before another half marathon but this has got me itching to race again so I’m on the lookout for a summer half. Anybody got good recommendations??

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