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Ealing Half Marathon

I'd planned to race the Maidenhead Half on the 8th September to see how the training for Frankfurt was going.  It's about as close to my house as a race gets - all of 5 miles away and this was the 3rd year the race has been held.  Unfortunately I managed to continue my shameful record of entering this every year and subsequently failing to turn up.  I can't remember what happened the previous two occasions - illness, aliens, no idea - but this time if felt as flat as a slashed tyre and passed it up. 

Maidenhead now comes second in my unbroken no-show performance record. It has some way to go as the Oxford Town and Gown 10k has pocketed my entry fee no less than five times(!) and yet never had to so much as pass me a water cup.  I've given up entering that one. It seems akin to flushing the money down the toilet in the hope that some of it might bubble back up again.

While on the subject of toilets, in the way that all bog roll manufacturers seem to like planting a couple of trees for every one they pulp, I get a pang of conscience after each missed race which can only be extinguished by entering a load more.  So that's why I ended up in Ealing on the 29th September. 

This is only the 2nd time the Ealing half has been run.  I once worked there and as a result hadn't any great desire to go back any time soon and I noticed the route went past the old office (which looked cheeringly derelict).  But it's close and I thought it might be flat.  I was about 50% right.

Our fabulous Summery Autumn was in full effect and it was pretty warm in the inevitable loo queue even though it was a 9:15 race start.  Loo queues are so stressful as you watch precious warm-up time whittle way as you uselessly wait, watching suspiciously for any queue etiquette infractions. 

Didn't feel all that up for it (the race, not the loo) this morning and had been feeling about 85% at best for a while so wasn't hugely confident about today's chances.  This was also the first fast race since the Olympic Park race back in July. 

The race kicks off on the dot and I managed to just get into the front of the race in time.  It's a twisty old course around the town and I completely lost my bearings - not that you need those for anything special.  From mile 1 I could feel the legs weren't really in the mood for it and as the course wound over the inclines I was struggling to maintain the sort of pace I wanted. 

I reached 5 miles in 29 minutes dead and pulled over for the first of 4(!) pauses as I was finding it hard to breathe properly.  That's about 10 seconds a mile off the pace I wanted. As soon as I stopped running a heavy feeling washed over me so there's clearly some sort of infestation going on.  That set the pattern for the rest of the course. Though not 100% I'm still annoyed at myself for caving in so easily. 

My pace had dropped to below 6 mins a mile after the first pause and I was going backwards in the field.  I was surprised how may locals had come out to cheer which was welcome and then I ran into one of the group I was out in South Africa with for the Comrades.  Incredibly these people keep cropping up everywhere.  All of them are going back for the Down run next June. I'm being sucked in.

Aly was having a bad race too so we have a long chat about how awful everything was to pass a few miles.  He'd run much better at Comrades than me, taking the coveted Silver medal so I was pleased to come in ahead of him this time and shamelessly counted the score as a draw :)

It turned out I'd run 1:21:55 on the clock but only 1:19 on my watch so I had treated myself to a whole 3 minutes of RnR mid-race, which is pretty poor, and dribbled in 53rd overall.

The organisers had decided against t-shirts I heard to be 'green' but instead had printed thousands of copies of a pencil sketch of a pair of running shoes adorned with a drawing of the race medal.  I'm really not sure what we were supposed to do with that and I'm afraid mine didn't make it home!

Despite my ropey performance it was very well organised, had pulled in several thousand runners and though lumpier than I thought and windy it was a good course.  I'm sure I'll run this one again.

The aftermath has been my cancelling an appearance at the Bournemouth Half (the following Sunday to this race) and going for a last throw of the dice at the Peterborough Half instead next weekend (13th October).  That's slightly desperate I admit and I wouldn't normally run a half at race pace 2 weeks out from a race marathon but I need the speedwork.  I *think* the bug wrecked this and I'm on for a better time.. subsequent training has also been affected by it however, including a last long run of 20 miles yesterday which I pasued several times to check the heart rate wasn't climbing too high.

I'm going to reassess Frankfurt goals based on that result and may yet postpone the target marathon out a few weeks with Valencia, Florence or Pisa being possible alternatives.
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