I hadn’t planned on running the B.A.A Half Marathon this year, but a few days before a spot opened up so I decided to go for it and test my half marathon legs. I’ve been training for the Cambridge Half Marathon coming up in November so I thought if I can run a tougher course a month before the race, I’d definitely be set for the CHM.
Matt ran his 100 miler the Friday and Saturday before the race in the pouring rain, so when I woke up and realized it was going to be chilly and rainy, I couldn’t let it get me down. If Matt can run 27 hours in the rain, I could handle 2 without whining about it. I woke up late, ate dry cereal for breakfast (we were out of milk of course), hopped on my bike, and biked the 4ish miles to start. I felt warmed up and ready to go by the time I got there. I ran into a few other NPers and get excited about racing.
When I started, I didn’t have a time goal in mind. My half marathon PR was on a completely flat course when I wasn’t training for ultras or marathons, so I didn’t think it was smart to try to PR on this tougher course in less than ideal weather. Last year I ran the B.A.A. Half in 2:02:29, and I wasn’t even sure I could beat that this year. My goal of the race was just to have negative splits, so I started at a nice, easy pace and used this race as my long run for the week.
By the halfway point, I was feeling pretty good (albeit wet and already chafing from my sports bra) and was ready to push it to the next level. I had forgotten about all the hills in the second half of the course, but I actually ended up feeling really strong on them. I haven’t been going out of my way to run hills during my training runs, but I think I’ve just been pushing myself to try harder and not avoid hilly routes when I run, so I’ve definitely become a stronger hill runner in the past few months, which helped during this course.
I did some mental math and realized if I pushed pretty hard for the second half of the race, I could definitely beat my course record from last year. I kicked it in gear and pushed myself as hard as I felt comfortable with considering there are some ultras in my future that I don’t want to injure myself before. I ended up finishing with a time of 1:58:32 – a solid 4 minutes faster than my time last year. Last year I had been struggling with IT Band issues as well, so the fact that I ran faster and felt strong the entire time this year gives me hope for my training season this year.
After the race, I realized the temperature had dropped significantly during the race – something I was grateful for during the race, but very unhappy about as I climbed on my bike. I started biking home with my teeth literally chattering when a familiar voice yelled out to me to come pull into the next parking lot. My savior, Kelvin, offered me a ride home which I gratefully accepted through chattering teeth. I got home and immediately hopped in the shower to warm up.
Overall, the race was amazing. The course is great and challenging, I felt strong, and even the weather could have been worse! My biggest complaint, as it was last year, is the damn drop bag situation. It’s chaos. This year was even more chaotic because it was raining and much colder at the finish than it was at the start. This meant everyone was trying to avoid the rain by changing into dry clothes inside the drop bag tent. This made it impossible for people to get to their own bags.
The only other semi-annoying thing to deal with is that there aren’t any bike racks near the start. While I understand most people aren’t biking to and from a half marathon, it would be great if they could get a temporary bike rack for the race for any runners or spectators – this was an issue for me in 2013 when Matt ran it and I spectated, last year when I ran, and again this year.
B.A.A. Half Marathon 2016
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