Watford Half Marathon

Watford Half Marathon.  This is my first actual event since Snowdonia Marathon and will be my furthest distance for quite some time whilst I build up for MK Marathon in May.

You’ll know from my Reflections post that getting back to running has been a struggle, but I was starting.  Well January was even more of a struggle…but that’s for another post.

So Watford Half Marathon…

This is a fantastic half marathon.  I may even return next year.  The course is described as undulating.  And undulating it was.  I was told a couple of weeks before the run that Watford is harder than St Albans.  Now St Albans I had a torrid time at.  It was hot, it was constantly up, constantly down.  I was on a two day hangover. Awful.   I found Watford much, much easier to deal with.  And I was five minutes faster than I was at St Albans.  This could be because it's winter and I wasn’t hungover.  (I was day four alcohol free at this point).  The hills in Watford are definitely harder, but more enjoyable.

The race begins in Cassiobury Park in Watford.  A lovely little park.  Enough loos, a big tent for the bag drop, all great.  They had two separate starts which were apparently according to age.  I took it to be "elite" and "not elite."  The race wound its way round the park and into the only part of the race I did not like.  From the park you head out on a long straight residential street and then head back on another long straight residential street.  Grim.

From there you go through another residential area, before hitting the woods and the countryside.  The area and the views through this part (over the motorway) were something else.  I felt right at home.

The first slope comes at about 6km.  This was a steep little bugger and I just thought, nope…do what JG does best….stride to the top and then carry on.  That continued for the majority of the slopes.  And there were slopes aplenty.

As you’re heading out of Watford, you’re essentially climbing constantly until a place called Bucks Hill.  Massive clue in the name there that this place is on top of a hill.  And then heading back to Watford from there. 

One of the worst climbs of the whole race is on a road called Deadmans Ash Lane, round the corner from Bucks Hill.  I turned, saw the hill and just stopped.   This was 12.5km in.  Furthest I’d run in a while.  I’m allowed to stop.  I saw the road sign and SNAP just had to take a picture.  It was a climb.

Following that climb there is brilliant downhill section where you can really pick up some pace before one final nasty climb and then you’re back on the familiar roads to take you back to the park.

There is a bit of a slog up to the finish line in the park, but when you see it, it’s great.  And that was it.  It was done.    At the finish you get squash…squash.  This was fantastic.  Also a lovely medal and a snazzy hi-viz t-shirt – always welcome. 

There were a lot of other club members doing the half as well, as was JB, Beefy, Dando and my brother.  I saw them all at the start.   And most of them at the finish (the two speedy chaps had to leave – it was very cold!).  It was great seeing them all cheering me in.  Always so very supportive.  They are brilliant.  And everyone was pleased with their runs.  They all smashed it.  It was great to see how far they’ve all come.

My finish time was 2:27.  Not great.  Not my best.  But my first long run since Snowdonia.  I am happy with that.

Another half marathon ticked off.  16 half marathons in total.  First event of 2018.  I can do this!  I finished the day off watching rugby and drinking beer.  This was a good weekend.

From this half, I was still on course for the MK Marathon.  This was officially week one of my marathon training.  The following day….I was ill.  The flu.  I could not move.  My next post will talk about this some more.

Watford Half Marathon was a really good half.  Very enjoyable.  Unfortunately I will always now remember it as the half that gave me the flu!


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