I've said that I wouldn't run any races this year... but today I went ahead and did my second race this summer. I had planned to run a long run this weekend anyway so why not do it together with a bunch of other runners.
The race took place in the nearby city Vänersborg and was organized by a local running club. There was both a full marathon and a half marathon taking place at the same time and on the same 8km track of roads and parkways. The full marathon was 5 laps around and the half was 2 ½ laps. I entered the half marathon race but since I hadn't signed up in advance I had to be there a bit early to register. My wife Georgia came with me and after I had registered we went to have a cup of coffee while we were waiting for the start.
The weather was nice for running, 15C/59F, cloudy, not much wind. I had wished for a bit of sunshine to brighten things up but the environment was really beautiful anyway.
I don't really know how many runners there were in the two races but my guess is that we were less than a hundred, probably closer to fifty than a hundred. It's not a very big race but in my opinion those races are usually a lot of fun. Two years ago I did the Gothenburgh half marathon together with 50 000 runners and today I did this race together with a lot less runners and I have to say that I prefer the smaller race.
We started 100m in front of the full marathon runners and the moment of the start was a bit vague since the start signal was produced over at the other starting line but it all worked out just fine. Since we were running 2½ laps we didn't do a full 8km first lap but had to take a shortcut after a few kms and come back to the later part of the loop. But that was no problem because one of the volunteers was standing there pointing us all in the right direction. The second and third lap we ran the full 8km loop. The first half of the loop was mostly on roads but the second half was on beautiful parkways along the lake Vänern, some parts among trees but for quite a long distance we had a beautiful view over the lake. The track was well marked out and the race well organized
Ok, my experience of the day... I started out too fast. At least according to the plan I had made. Based on my last long runs I was going to aim for a 6:30/km pace but after a couple of kms I found that I was running a 5:30 - 6:00 pace and I was a bit worried that I would run into problems later in the race. At the same time I felt very good and even if I tried to slow down a bit I seemed to be running at the same pace so I stopped worrying and went with the flow. I was run/walking with a 3:1 ratio and followed the intervall timer as strict as I could. The 3:1 ratio is how I have been training lately and it suits me good.
When you are the only run/walker you tend to be rather lonely, I mean that even if you are surrounded by the same people most of the time and you pass and get passed by them all the time, you don't really keep the same speed as they do and you can't really "cling on" to anyone. When you are running they are too slow and when walking they are much too fast. So I did my own race without that much help with the pace.
I kept on running and felt good for most of the race and with 6kms to go I did a prediction of my finishing time and found that there was a tiny possibility to finish under two hours. The time showed 1hour 28 and with 6kms to go and a 6 minute/km pace that would give me a finish time of around 2hours and 5 minutes. Ok for a little while I toyed with the idea to speed up and try but then I would have to run almost a minute faster per km for the rest of the race and I soon gave up the idea. The pace I was running was very pleasant and why take the risk of ruining it all. I decided to just keep on and enjoy the event. As it turned out I must have kicked up the pace anyway and I finished in 2:01:22 on my watch. The official time isn't up yet so there might be an adjustment to that later on but I am very happy with myself and also a bit surprised. I did beat my earlier half marathon PR with 20(!) minutes.