Published on April 8, 2015
Garmin Race Your Pace Half Marathon
The Garmin Race Your Pace Half Marathon – organised by Human Race – is, as the name suggests, an event designed to test your pace. It’s early March date makes it an excellent time to check fitness and pacing in the spring marathon buildup and you can use it to assess how comfortable your marathon pace feels. Or you can, of course, go a bit harder and use your finish time to predict how fast you could run a marathon.
If you’re relatively new to running, half marathons are a good ‘distance goal’ to build up to and if you’re training for a marathon, they’re an excellent check of your fitness, and provide a real sense check on your time goals. All of which means that the Garmin Race Your Pace Half Marathon has much to recommend it…
Garmin provide the pacers at 1minute intervals from 6- to 12-minute-miles, so all the runners have to do is choose their pacer and stick with them sounds easy enough, right? Well as Paula Radcliffe has pointed out when asked if pacers make it easier, you do still have to do the physical work of running that speed…
If you don’t quite trust a human pacer (although you certainly can), or want to run a different pace, you can also try out Garmin watches at the Race Your Pace Half Marathon. Personally I always use mine in races to check how fast I’ve run each mile, so I can see if I need to maintain, speed up or slow down.
Dorney Lake is a near-perfect venue to test out your pacing too; for a start it’s flat which is always handy for running fast times. Also being four and a bit laps for a half marathon, you know what’s coming, so can pace yourself with no surprises. You know where the drinks are (two-per-lap, with gels available at one of them), and where the finish line is. There are no cars, and no pedestrians crossing (I haven’t yet seen anyone scuttle across the path to dive into the lake for a March swim!) Also the field is relatively small – there are only around 500 runners – and it’s a very friendly atmosphere, so you won’t feel intimidated or squashed at Race Your Pace.
The disadvantages of the event though is the potential to be put off by multiple laps or if you need lots of exciting things to look at (there really aren’t any.) Also spectators are sparse; so you won’t be cheered all the way round like you might be at a big city event.
Basically this is a straight manmade lake, and you go round it a lot on a tarmac path; I’ve heard it described as ‘uninspiring’ and ‘bleak’. It is very exposed so it’s often windy, meaning you have to put in more effort and the path is also quite narrow, so if you’re at the faster end of the field, you will lap quite a lot of people. Most of the pacing groups, although sizable, were on the lookout to keep out of the way of lapping runners, but you’ll still have to do a bit of weaving.
On balance, the pros much outweigh any cons for me, and it keeps me going back in the hope of a fast time. It’s a great opportunity to practice for your key race and you can try out your kit, practice taking drinks from marshals, run with a pace group, and check your progress against the mile markers. It’s also useful to practice concentrating during an event, as there isn’t much in the way of new scenery or crowds of spectators to distract you. This will stand you in good stead for future races if you find things hard.
Lots of runners hit PBs at the Garmin Race Your Pace Half Marathon and you can get a print out of split times and chip finish time as soon as you cross the line, and a text with your result soon after, so you wont be in any doubt how you did!
This year the men’s event was won by William McNulty in 1:14:12, and the ladies event by me in 1.26.38.
Further details on the Garmin Race Your Pace Half Marathon at humanrace.co.uk