Argentan half-marathon [1 23'38"-31/583-V2:1/111]
Early readers of the ‘Og might remember that the very first entry was about my 2008 half-marathon in Argentan! I was not particularly happy about the outcome, due to a recurrent tendinitis. In the subsequent races, I was injured for two years in a row and last year saw a combination of very hot weather and reduced training thanks to two broken ribs. Last Saturday, I ran the Argentan half-marathon for the 16th time (including the year I ran it by myself as it had been cancelled!). Despite a bike fall three weeks earlier, I managed to get my training schedule completed (partly thanks to the opportunities offered by the trip to Bristol) and to follow a slightly stricter diet than usual. Whatever the reasons, this proved to be successful, in continuity with three earlier podiums this year!
The weather happened to be much better than last year, meaning it was cold, only mildly raining (this is Normandy after all!), and with a moderate wind (always the issue with this race). As shown by the above picture (kindly provided by Normandie Course à pied), I stuck with a group of runners who had mentioned a goal of 1 hour 25 minutes (at the start) for the first half of the race and, feeling in great shape by then, increased slightly the pace in the long uphill track in the Gouffern forest, left the group (which prompted some grumbling for unfairness by runner 660, believe it or not!), passed three more runners, and finished in 1 hour 23 minutes and 37 seconds, which is far from my best times in Argentan (1 20′ 34″) but nothing to complain about. I ended 31st in the race (out of 800 plus runners) and first in the V2 category, which led me on the podium for the first time since I started this race in 1995. (As Peter Green got me into running that race, I hope he will not mind if I dedicate this [very minor] victory to him and his wife Liz [who also won Argentan a few years ago].) As I ended up 34th last year versus 31st this year, I do realise that I benefited from the “Law of Small Numbers“: the presence/absence of just a few runners has a determining impact on the outcome and this year, the three V2 runners that were in front of me last year did not show up.
Here is an attempt at representing in R the split times with a background image (and the part in the forest), but it does not look that great (and I could not remember how to modify the axes and label colors with a simple option…)