Race Report: Lacock Half Marathon


I don’t really know where to start with this – so I’ll give the short version first.

I was rubbish.


Now I’m not saying that 1.59 is a rubbish time – we all know that everyone has their own speed; some people were born faster, some people were born slower. But when you’ve worked your socks off since January in order to get faster, 1.59 is thoroughly depressing.


  • Current PR is 1.52 from Hellyer in 2014.
  • Last good HM was 1.53 in Healdsburg in 2016.
  • I started training with a coach in January, aiming to run hard in Annecy in April.
  • Annecy was a heatwave so I jogged it in, which was a wise decision.
  • Fleet HM, a week later, was a very disappointing 1.56.
  • Since Fleet, I worked hard, notching up nearly 150 miles last month with speedwork every week.

Hopes for Lacock

  • It was a flat course (they said) and the weather was warm but not hot, so I was hoping for 1.53.
  • My motivation has been low for a few weeks, so I decided that if I got 1.53 I’d keep working towards 1.49 but if I missed 1.53, I’d consider switching focus to the 10k.
  • I go away in August and then my PGCE begins, so I only have seven weeks to keep training hard.
me track iffley happy
That was a nice day!

The course

  • It was significantly harder than I’d expected. Three loops of approx 4.4 miles  – my long runs are often three loops and I’ve grown to enjoy that format. Each loop included 3 u-turns and a good half-mile on farm track/trail.
  • Although the overall elevation was only 315ft, it genuinely felt like it was nearly all uphill. I have no idea how or why, but I wasn’t the only person to feel this way.
  • The temperatures were about 16 C/60 F. I honestly thought it was pretty cool (there was a slight breeze) and wasn’t at all bothered about the temperatures, although everyone else was saying how hot it was. California has its uses, eh?
  • However, it was stinking pretty!
Photo: Relish Running’s FB page

The race started at 9.30 which is early for the UK and I was glad. There was plenty of parking (£2 per car) and plenty of loos at the staging area in a little park in the gorgeous village of Lacock. I was rather thrilled to bump into Holly Rush, a well-known UK runner and sometime presenter of Marathon Talk – I said hi, she said hi, I admired her dog, it was all rather lovely.

Photo: Relish Running FB page

Splitting my race into loops….

Loop 1 – Felt hard from the start. I was surprised by the uphills. It felt very long. I got back to the staging area feeling like I’d worked much harder than I’d meant to. I stopped checking my watch after 2 miles, running on feel.

Loop 2 – Felt easier. I knew the route better, my legs felt a little fresher for a few miles. Also, the 10k/5k runners were on the route too so there was a lot of people-watching to entertain me and passing some of the slower runners definitely made me feel good. (Is that awful?)

Loop 3 – I took a gel as I started out and felt pretty decent for the first half of this loop. On the last few miles though, I started fading and then it was the standard death-march back to the staging area and the finish line. I was hoping that I’d done enough to get at least 1.56 so when I checked my watch and saw 1.59 I was pretty gutted.

Notes on the race organisation

  • It was a lovely race. Excellent organisation, really lovely friendly marshalls, cheerful locals, a nice medal…can’t fault it.
  • I think the course is tough. Loops, u-turns, farm-track…this probably isn’t a PR course for many and it was my mistake to think it might be.
  • Plenty of distances – 1km for the kids, 5k, 10k, HM.
  • There were also thousands (literally) of race photos available free of charge via Facebook. I searched through them all and there was one of my feet, hidden behind a guy. But I always appreciate free race photos and think the organisers should get a big hug for doing them.


And now the mopey bit…

First of all, I’m so grateful to everyone who left sweet comments on my Insta or on Strava. Running friends are so kind.

On Sunday I decided it would be my last time racing a half-marathon. Today…Tuesday…I’m not quite so sure.

I know that the course was a hard course to run fast on…but I expected more from myself than 1.59.

I know I can’t face any more 15 mile long runs and I’d like to do more speedwork.

My diet has left a lot to be desired. Discussing this with the Husband yesterday, he told me my diet was ‘crap’. I eat a load of healthy stuff but I eat too much cake and my portion sizes are consistently enormous. As of this morning, we have both given up sugar until we go on holiday at the very end of July.

As I said earlier, I have seven weeks before my opportunity to train and race hard is over for at least a year. I think my 1.49 goal is out of reach, so do I try one more half and see if I can at least salvage some pride or do I call it quits and see if I can bust out a fast 5k or 10k?

So I did some thinking. 

I was all ready to retire from the Half Marathon and spend some time running 10ks for fun.

And then I suddenly wasn’t ready.

I have seven more weeks and then I will NOT be able to train for a half-marathon for at least a year. I will not have the time. Seven more weeks of hard work. I can do that.

So I’m going to give it one last shot. One final attempt to do myself proud.

There are no suitable races coming up in June or July. Nothing flat and fast and raceable. That last week in July, I’m going to plan myself a flat, fast route. I’m going to get up early and run it in the cool morning temperatures. I’m going to do it all alone. And I’ll see what I can do one last time.

Nevertheless, this girl is freaking persisting!



13 Comments Add yours

  1. NicJ says:

    Ok – beating yourself up is over please! Sometimes you can have the most perfect lead up and it goes wrong on the day. Others you are crap in the lead up and then it’s amazing. Shit happens. You’ve got a list of things to review – diet and level of training (too much, not enough, wrong type) and one more pop at it in this time window (don’t withdraw from halfs forever – you’ve got a lot of life left to live and run) so if you’ve decided on one more blast, GO FOR IT #thisgirlcan #thisgirlbloodywellwill 😁

    1. Cathryn says:

      I’m sure I’ll do halves again once my PGCE is over…it’ll be fine. Come home soon please so we can go running.

      1. NicJ says:

        You betcha! Home in a couple of weeks – let’s run in July! Xx

  2. Angela says:

    Arrrgh. Sorry you had a disappointing race. There are so many factors involved, I think sometimes all you can do is say “Eh, it was what it was” & let it go.

    Good luck with your solo time trial! Also even if you don’t hit your goal you’ve still done a ton of good training & maybe it just needs some time to marinate while you rest & focus on other things.

    1. Cathryn says:

      I think so. Much cheerier today, thanks 🙂

  3. dlubi says:

    Keep your head up! You can run that time for sure – this just wasn’t your race. I’ve been working on similar goals for long course racing and completely understand how frustrating it can be to work at it and not see results. Great results are coming – just stick with your goal and keep working at it! Seriously – your consistency will pay off and your determination will carry you to that finish line fast! You got this!!! Sending cheers!!!

    ps – I am more than happy to share whatever training knowledge I have anytime if it is helpful in any way. I know how annoying unsolicited advice is, so I won’t share unless you want some tips or workout ideas!

    1. Cathryn says:

      Ha…your advice is always welcome but I think I have some plans. Thank you though. x

  4. ErinAMG says:

    Ugh, totally sucks when race day doesn’t materialize how we envision. Sorry :/ but as others have said, your fitness and hard work isn’t for naught. It will only help you later and will augment the continued fitness that you build. Whether you’re going for another HM or the short stuff, you’ll be in a good place. I personally have a hard time with HMs; they’re practically an Achilles heel for me because something always goes extremely wrong, lol! You’re awesome though, gal. Keep showing up, a la our girl DES!

  5. bt says:

    Big hugs for your frustration. I agree with your call to give it one more go, you’ve put in a good strong segment, it owes you!

    1. Cathryn says:

      I think so too xxx

  6. Jen says:

    I’m glad you’ve had a change of heart… when you said you were giving up on half marathons, I was a bit worried, to be honest. It just didn’t seem like you. Good luck with your time trial!

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