Hertfordshire Half Marathon 2019, held in the beautiful scenery of Knebworth House, would be the setting for my second ever half marathon (it was also the setting for my first!). It was a slightly warmer day this year, dry after a few days of heavy rain. After some rather amusing group warm-ups with an incredibly enthusiastic PT instructor on the stage, we headed for the start. I tried to get quite near the front, so that I would have a relatively clear start to the run. I find the first mile or so of any race feels quite difficult, with people jostling for position and an initial adrenaline rush making me run faster than my normal pace. However it soon thinned out and settled down, and we headed into the roads surrounding Knebworth House. What I had forgotten from the year before was just how hilly it all was – I definitely didn’t remember it being so hard!
The first few miles out of Knebworth House takes you down a long road, which continuously goes up and down. If that wasn’t bad enough, when you get to the end, you simply turn around and run back on yourself for the next couple of miles. Only a man playing a steel drum indicated I was near the turning off to a new section of the route, but also a water station and the knowledge I was 7.5 miles in. Sadly, my attempt to grab a water bottle failed and I resorted to an energy gel to keep my legs moving.
The miles trundled on. At about 9.5 miles a hill appeared out of nowhere, which I noticed only when the runner in front swore loudly. By the time I was at the top, most of the energy had been wiped out of my legs. The next few miles were tough. I managed to keep my legs moving although my pace had started to slow, but my boyfriend cheering me on with less than a mile to go was just what I needed to keep up my determination to finish well (and hopefully get a PB). However having done the course before, the knowledge that there was ‘heartbreak hill’ still to climb immediately before the finish didn’t fill me with excitement.
I barely ran up the hill. It definitely wasn’t a walk, as I didn’t think I would get running again if I walked, but it was a pretty slow run. Then at the top I could see the finish, with just one more corner to go. I attempted a sprint, if you can call it that, and crossed the line. I had completed the course last year in 1.40.49. My aim was to beat that time – and I did! My time of 1.39.42 secured me a PB and 19th fastest lady of the event. I could not have been happier, particularly as I had been feeling under the weather for the entire week beforehand. And now it was done – it was the perfect excuse for a lovely Sunday pub roast! 🙂
Big thanks to coach Allie for believing in me and helping me through my ups and downs in training to make sure I had some solid hours under my belt to be able to complete the run 🙂