Race Review: Garmin Race Your Pace Half Marathon

The Garmin Race your Pace Half Marathon or… Around, around the garden like a Teddy Bear…

Powering to PBs

Six days after I just missed out on 10K (by 2 mins) and Half (by 4) Personal Bests at the Hampton Court Half Marathon I had another chance to get things right at the Olympic Rowing lake at Eton Dorney, near Windsor. 

Another half, but without the traffic, the hills, the mud and the mire of the the last race, this was going to be as flat as…
Although it would have several other interesting, and potentially challenging aspects, namely:
  • I knew several people running it
  • It was dead flat and exposed so the wind could be a problem
  • It was four laps around a boring lake with minimal boring treeline around to keep your mind occupied
  • It was a Saturday, which is just weird
I booked myself for 2 nights at the 5 star Oakley Court hotel because it was, according to Google Maps, the closest hotel by a long chalk. Now, this would have been true if the River Thames wasn’t in the way, and if there had been any bridges closer than five miles away. So to and from the race was an expensive cab ride. The hotel with it’s superb staff, amazing food and pool, spa, jacuzzi, sauna and steam room was a massive hit with me and was the castle used in over 200 movies including the Hammer House of Horror Dracula movies, and two of my all-time favourites Half a Sixpence and Rocky Horror Picture show. But, it’s astounding, time is fleeting and all that, so I will keep going.
The Route
There wasn”t much of it to speak it. There is a track around the rowing lake that is just over 3 miles, so after a bit of a hairpin loop at the start to make up the difference it is round the lake four times.
How I did
Knowing people there I wanted to walk as little as possible and knew I have been progressing over the last weeks due to running 10K home after work every few days. Before I would run 3 miles or so then walk a song, then move into a 3 songs running/1 walking pattern. I blew that away last week at Hampton Court by running the first 7 miles, then walking for barely 50 yards before running 3 more to the swamp, walking the swamp and then ran the rest. Hence me being so close to a PB. My thinking being that, whilst I am not working on my speed yet, if I run for longer and walk for less (if at all) then my times will improve.
And so at the start I positioned myself by the 9 minute mile pacers with the idea of following them as long as possible and then dropping back later nearer to the 10 minute pacers. But that changed….
I not only stayed with the 9 minute pack, as I got closer and closer to the 10K mark I realised I was on for a PB, so left the pack and pushed myself for the next half a lap to record a 10K PB, beating my old time by 47 SECONDS.
I then took on some water briefly, seeing one of my friends run past and this pushed to start again, catch up with the pack and keep going, sending me over the finish line beating my Half Marathon PB by a whopping 7 MINUTES 7 SECONDS a record that had stood since August 2013. Hell, I even lapped the 12 minute pace group 300 yards before the finish.
I am super chuffed with beating those distance PBs, especially as I beat my 1K PB at the Cancer Research Winter Run less than a month before. The aim now, being to get the Mile and 5K times down and tick off those PBs before the distance and longest time records going at Berlin.
The Bling
I am so happy with how I ran, that I am still improving and know that I could do better, that the medal is just an afterthought. It is bespoke but small but I am ok with that.

In Summary
You can’t help but get PBs at Eton Dorney. I was signed up for a race there a couple of years ago but didn’t run it and am actually glad to have closure on the venue. It is pretty much flat other than a few low bridges. It came at exactly the right time for me.
The event was very well organised, with mile pace groups, water stations, energy drinks, energy gels, plenty of marshals, bag drop, catering, everything you would want really and expect from a Humanrace race, especially one sponsored by Garmin. You could even hire a Garmin if you didn’t have one.
Would I run it again? It was a bit of a ball ache to get to. Unless you are local and driving I would say this was not easily manageable for someone from London getting the train down. It is 55 mins from Waterloo to Eton and Riverside station and then 10-15 mins in a cab to get there. So it would have to be a maybe, and then just for the sake of testing out my speed and aiming for PBs.
Would I recommend it? I would recommend the whole weekend of staying at Oakley Court and racing at Eton Dorney for the sake of your PBs. Also stay the extra night and make the most of the spa facilities, your body will love you for it.
(A race up 932 steps to the top of one of London’s skyscrapers)
and then

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