So it’s finished, the race has taken place and the Vitality Oxford Half Marathon is complete for 2015.

It started out cold and dark on Sunday morning, my alarm went off at 6am and I sprung out of bed and into action getting myself up and dragging my poor family who wanted to stay in their warm bed to my car.

We hit the road at 6.30am and made Oxford by 7am. Parked up at the park and ride and jumped onto a bus towards the race village.

On arrival I headed down to the pink Vitality tent to meet up with the Vitality team and to take some photos prior to the race, I was nervous but only because I knew I was going to try and break my personal best half marathon time.

I spent the next hour mingling with fellow runners and hearing of all the tremendous stories they had to share to the start line. Inspirational stuff. This is why I love race day, you get to meet so many like-minded awesome individuals setting goals and smashing them up.

And so at 9:45am we headed to the start line. There were 6269 finishers on the day, not a bad turnout Oxford.

On arriving at the start we were told the race would be delayed by 15 minutes as there were a number of trains running late into Oxford which didn’t bother me as it gave me a chance to duck out for a quick toilet break.

So 10:15am came and the gun went off, I started up in the 1:15-1:30 starting pen knowing that my previous personal best was 1hr 27mins 05secs and today I was planning on breaking it.

My race plan was to run sub 7 minute miles and push it when I felt strong, the good news was that after running the 1st 200meters to the cheer of the crowd and the cheers of my family I knew that I had the strength and was going to run well.

1st mile – 6:24
Followed by
2nd mile – 6:24

It was quick and not something I thought I could sustain for 13.1 miles but I felt good and the Oxford crowd were saving me seconds with every stride I took.

3rd mile – 6:30
4th mile – 6:26
5th mile – 6:22
6th mile – 6:37

The 1st 6 mile breezed by, my legs felt strong. I was on it – my ankle was hurting a little from my previous injury but I just switched it off in my head and pushed on.

7th mile – 6:40
8th mile – 6:38

At mile 8 running back down past the main body of runners heading towards mile 5 was great, everyone looked awesome. All achieving their personal goals.

9th mile – 6:40
10th mile – 6:31

At mile 10 the fast pace I had run throughout was starting to drain me, a few runners over took. But I dug deep. Gritted my teeth and told myself it’s only 3 more miles, I can run this pace for 3 more, I’ve already done 10. Come On! I shouted at myself to then be rewarded by a guy in the crowd shouting out ‘Go on Vitality man! Looking good in Pink’ I reckon he saved me more seconds.

11th mile – 6:43
12th mile – 6:50

Mile 11 and 12 were hard, but the green leafy trail of the University parks took my attention away from the pain. What pain? I told myself. Look at the nature around us, it’s wonderful. And then into the centre of Oxford and around historic buildings. Sometimes distraction is all you need.

13th mile – 6:35
13.1 mile – 0.45

And so to the final mile, the crowds were lining the streets, everyone was cheering. I even found some strength to run the final 50 odd meters doing the aeroplane. Stretching my arms out and running side to side to the laughs and cheers of the crowd, my family screaming my name.

Across the line, stopping my watch.

And the time………………..

BOOM! I’d smashed my personal best by almost a minute 1hr 26mins 06secs YES YES YES!

I’d managed to finish in 142nd place out of the 6269 runners that started.

Tingles rose up my spine and across my head, I felt euphoric….This is why I run, this is why I took it up and this is why I will continue to push my limits…………………

After collecting my medal, goody bag and having some photos with the Vitality photographer, I met my family, my greatest cheer squad and continued to cheer home the rest of my fellow runners.

What an awesome day it was, I will be back for more next year in 2016.

Thanks for reading and thanks to Vitality for making me the face of the race for the Vitality Oxford Half Marathon 2015! X

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