Oxford Half

When I was in university I did a teaching placement in Warman, Saskatchewan. The teacher I was placed with was in his 50s, brilliant at welding and woodwork, and ran half-marathons in his spare time. I was inspired and decided that I wanted to run a half marathon or even a marathon someday.

Over the next several years I did a fair bit of casual running in several different countries, sometimes with friends and sometimes on my own. After moving to the UK I decided to apply for the London Marathon which accepts runners on a ballot system. I tried and failed to get in several times (including this year).

One day I randomly came across the Oxford Half Marathon on social media and decided to apply. It was also on a ballot system, but nowhere near as hard to get into as the London Marathon. To my surprise I got in. After getting permission from my wife (the date was days before our second child’s due date) I began to train.

As part of the entry process I had to give a predicted finish time. This was particularly hard to do as I had never done an event like this before and had no benchmark to go by. After much deliberation I nervously settled on 1:45:00 as my target time. I wanted a challenge, though equally didn’t want to embarrass myself with an unrealistic goal.

I found several training plans online before adapting one to fit my schedule:

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It wasn’t easy to stick to the plan, especially after the summer as I went back to work and the days got shorter. I did manage to fit all but a couple runs in however, so felt prepared when the race day finally arrived.

The race itself was a lot of fun despite being pouring with rain. I became so wet and cold that I began to shiver while waiting for the race to start, so it was a relief when the running actually began. My main surprise was how many people there were (nearly 7 thousand). Dodging puddles and people took some getting used to as I was used to running on my own. But the constant mental distraction was actually a good way to keep up my pace.

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Running with other people was definitely motivating as well. I initially caught and stuck with the 1:45 pacer, but then decided I could keep up a faster pace.

As I neared the finish line I looked at the official clock and saw that I was getting close to my 1:45 target. It was a relief to get over the line and it felt even better when I received confirmation that my chip time was 1:40:29.

If any of you readers out there have ever considered running a half-marathon, do it! I definitely found it to be a rewarding experience.

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