There are plenty of pre-London Marathon half-marathons to test one’s mettle: Bath, Brighton, Fleet, Reading, Silverstone. Unfortunately, they are/were all fully subscribed. Hence I found myself in Essex today, taking part in the 29th annual edition of the Roding Valley half-marathon.
After running a short loop around Woodford, we commenced a long loop, with the course climbing to Chigwell, crossing the M11 and passing through Buckhurst Hill en route to Woodford. A second, identical long loop came next, before the finish on the track at the Ashton playing fields.
The race is described as ‘undulating’. Hilly would be a more fitting description. Of course, what goes up must come down, but the downs didn’t seem to compensate for the ups, while the longest downhill section was ran into the teeth of a headwind. I lost count of the hills. They kept coming, never terribly steep or long, but steep enough and long enough to disrupt momentum.
Even so, I did what I intended to do – running six-minute miles from start to finish, feeling comfortable but lacking the sharpness to run any quicker. My reward was a time of 1,18, 20 for 13th place out of 888. I tapped that time into a race calculator to estimate my ‘projected equivalent’ marathon time (highly dangerous, I know), but the answer was pleasing nonetheless: 2, 43, 19.