A secret half marathon!

After a break of over 5 years, I am delighted to be able to say that I am a half marathon runner having completed the Manchester Half Marathon earlier this month.

I have been running since 2008 but this is only the third half marathon I have ever completed. My last one, the inaugural Rock n Roll Half Marathon in Edinburgh, was when my Graves Disease really kicked in and it was just a horrible experience.

Over the last few years, I have tried to get my miles back up but found that any time I progressed beyond 10k my body didn’t like it and I would be too tired to do anything for weeks.

On the last few Foxy Trail Runs, the chat had started to turn to the Foxtrail Winter Series. As much as I enjoyed the 5k series, there was a part of me that was envious watching the full series runners cross the finish line. For me, I knew it would be such an achievement to complete those races, regardless of finish times and places.

Since the beginning of the year, I have increased the number of times per week I go out running getting out 4-5 times per week rather than 2-3 times. My weekly mileage had been averaging around 20 miles per week for a good few months. With this solid base, I started to wonder whether I would be able to complete the full winter series.

In the end I convinced myself to sign up but knowing that the half marathon may be a race too far for me. However, Owain’s powers of persuasion are obviously improving as he managed to convince me that I would be able to get round the half marathon.

I started looking at half marathon training plans and in a moment of madness decided that I would sign up for a road half marathon to give me confidence before taking on the trail version.

We started looking at races mid-October and decided on Manchester Half Marathon on 15 October. That gave me 11 weeks to train. I downloaded a training plan and I was good to go. The training plan comprised of 4 days of running and one day cross training. Interestingly, 2 of the runs were shorter faster runs with a speed work session and a tempo session. The other runs were longer runs, one maintaining around 45-60 minutes and the other building from 6 miles up to 12 miles.

I loved having the training plan to follow as it meant I didn’t need to think about what I was doing, it was simply a case of following the plan. With the exception of one particularly awful 10 miler, the training went without a hitch. There were a few times I had to deviate from the plan – including dropping a 12 mile run as we were on holiday and I didn’t fancy such a long run in the sun and heat of Lanzarote. But I had planned for that and added a 12 mile run the day I got back from holiday and then a 6 miler with the Foxy crew the following day!

Given my struggles with my health in the past, I made a conscious decision not to tell anyone about signing up to Manchester Half as I didn’t want the pressure of people asking how the training was going or having to tell people I had had to pull out before race day.

Unfortunately, I hadn’t counted on my eagle-eyed Strava followers picking up on the increased miles and I soon got questions asking what I was training for. My answer was simple – I was training for the Foxtrail Winter Series. It wasn’t a word of a lie – I just had Manchester Half Marathon to do before that!

So that’s how I got to the start line and why I decided to keep it secret. A separate blog will follow with my actual race report.


Mandy Williams

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