James is running 12 races in 12 months to raise money for The Rowans Hospice - Winchester Half was race number 9!

I knew that it was always going to happen at some point during my 12-in-12 challenge and it just happened to be at the Winchester Half-Marathon. The race where the wheels well and truly came off….
It definitely wasn’t going to be a fast race considering I had spent 12 days in the US only arriving back at 11am the day before the race. I just didn’t predict how tired I would actually be when the race started. I had been for a few runs when in the US – a cracking trail run in Palo Alto and a couple of low-key treadmill runs in Las Vegas – and felt pretty good but once the race started – ugh…
The day started pretty well, unfortunately I had been awake from about 2am but managed to get a few bits done and prepped for the race. I had already decided to get the train to Winchester, rather than drive, and managed to get to the bag drop at Winchester Guildhall nice and early. The first sign that I might not have been with it was having dropped my bag and sitting down taking on some last minute fluids and nutrition. Looking around I realised that I hadn’t put my timing chip on my running shoes – it was a strange chip in that it was paper based and you needed to loop it round your laces. I had to make a last minute dash back to bag drop to grab the chip from my bag – not what you need so close to the start of the race.
Once on the start line the adrenaline kicked in and I felt good but it didn’t last very long. Once the race started it was hills straight away. I’ve decided that I really really really don’t like hills. I’m sure everyone has had a race where as soon as you get started you just know you haven’t got it in your legs and it’s not going to be your day. I felt like that within the first half mile. My legs felt like lead and my chest felt tight. I even had to walk up the first set of hills which wasn’t a good sign. Once a couple of miles in I started to pick up the pace but looking at my splits – any game plan had obviously gone out of the window. My fastest mile was Mile 4 at a pace of 7.30 min/mile – crazy! Then I started to slow on the hills badly. I made time up on each downhill stretch but I just didn’t have anything in the tank even after some gels. I started to accept that this may be my first non-sub 2 hour half marathon although I vowed to go it what I had.
The course itself was very scenic and went back out past my old stomping ground of Hursley but every now and then another hill would hit and I would start to suffer again. I really think I haven’t fully recovered my stamina from the summer calf injury and with the jet lag it was beginning to show.
I finished with a time of 2.00.34 so pretty close to sub 2-hour but a good 15 minutes off my PB from earlier this year.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing and I probably shouldn’t have run the race given the travel etc but it’s another race chalked off of the 12-in-12 challenge and more lessons learned. Running in aid of a great cause – The Rowans Hospice – is always in my mind and why I will finish any of the races this year even if I am crawling!
So onto the Amsterdam Marathon in 3 weeks. Training is going to b tough over the next week or so due to a business trip to Bangalore so it will be treadmill only for a week but at least I have a full week to recover before the race – so hopefully no repeat of Winchester.
Winchester Half-Marathon – I have a score to settle – I will be back! 
Check out James' full blog: https://james12in12.wordpress.com/

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