A bit annoyingly the half marathon was delayed again because of problems with train delays; rightly or wrongly it has something of a reputation for the race to be delayed for some reason or another. It was cold at the beginning so I was not too happy.
The race started in St Giles went up through North Oxford via the Banbury Road, back down until Marston Ferry Road into Old Marston, then into the city centre, around the University Parks, and final frustratingly twisty turvy mile where the organizer seemingly felt the need to go past the Sheldonian and the Radcliffe Camera for the sake of it. It was quick course, even with the Oxford Town Gown 10k style twisty finish.
I presume with the new organizers wanted to attract people from further afield so this year there were around 6000 runners compared to last years 4000. In doing so, the race no longer goes around the suburbs of south Oxford, where people actually live and focused more on the landmarks presumably in order to get tourists. This meant there was lack of atmosphere of bands and entertainment on route compared to previous route, whereas there were bands at the Plain, Oxford Acadamy School, and so on.
With Abingdon Marathon coming up, I was not sure how to run the race and stay race fit for the marathon next weekend. I was especially anxious after last year where I got injured days before, badly spraining my medial collateral ligament playing in the Oxfordshire Social inclusion 5-aside football at Court Place Farm. At the start of last month I re-aggravated my knee a bit again from all my long slow 17 mile runs that I have done. Therefore, my training has not been ideal the last month, some days I had to shorten run and on other had to slow my speed work.
I knew with all my training and my somewhat soft personal best, I could coast to a personal best with not too many problems. I thought about running with the 1:45 pacer but thought that would be cheating myself. I target was to average 8-minute miles with would get me a personal best and would be good practice running at a continuous pace myself for the marathon.
My race splits from my Garmin
1) 1m - 7:40(7:40/m) 117cal 7.83/0mph
2) 1m - 7:41(7:41/m) 120cal 7.81/0mph
3) 1m - 7:38(7:38/m) 119cal 7.86/0mph
4) 1m - 7:52(7:52/m) 120cal 7.62/0mph
5) 1m - 7:35(7:35/m) 120cal 7.92/0mph
6) 1m - 7:45(7:45/m) 118cal 7.75/0mph
7) 1m - 8:05(8:05/m) 118cal 7.42/0mp
8) 1m - 7:58(7:58/m) 118cal 7.54/0mph
9) 1m - 8:05(8:05/m) 119cal 7.42/0mph
10) 1m - 7:57(7:57/m) 119cal 7.55/0mph
11) 1m - 8:13(8:13/m) 119cal 7.3/0mph
12) 1m - 8:30(8:30/m) 117cal 7.07/0mph
13) 1m - 8:02(8:02/m) 117cal 7.47/0mph
14) 0.13m - 47(6:15/m) 13cal 9.61/0mph
I ended up averaging 7:55 which is pretty bang on for a 8:00 target. I am not sure what happened at mile 12. I came 1280 out of 6216 in a time of 1:43:47. I was pleased I finished the race injury free and felt the best I ever have after a half marathon. It give me more confidence of a decent chance of a sub 4 hour marathon. Although, the marathon I am expecting to be much tougher. The next day, I even managed to cycle to the city centre and back, as well as a 4 mile run!!!
I stayed and cheers on all the runners, at the 13 mile mark on until whoever was dressed as a Minion passed following about three and half hours after the start time. I presume it is the some person from the OX5 Run this year. Whoever it was did not even come last!!! Lots charity runners and first time runners who put themselves through pain in order to raise money, which I could not help feeling is more admirable than us faster runners who regularly pound the street of Oxford.
In short, while it was nice to have the extra support from passers-by in the city centre, I could not help thinking that organisers took the community element out of the race. The Banbury Road and Marston section was boring and felt to me at times nothing more than dragging the route out in order to make it to size. I liked the stadium finish and it was nice along the river in the former route. I do not really see why they could not have started in University Parks before going around the landmarks in the city centre, along the river and finish in the stadium. Getting the lead runner lost was not too clever. Nor was expecting everyone wanting to go to the race village in the Parks, some of us did not use the bag drop area and wanted to go into town to catching a bus home, but found ourselves in a bus lane after just running a half marathon. How hard is it to put in a temporary zebra crossing near the war memorial where Banbury and Woodstock road split up?