So. Last year I didn’t run this race as I had only been running for about 9 months. This year it was meant to be my target race of the Summer season. By my saying “meant to be” you can probably gather that things did not go so well in the run-up. A couple of injuries put paid to my training and out of 8 weeks on my training plan provided by Anna from my running club, I only managed to fully complete one week. So a lack of mileage was always going to mean that my race would never really be a race. Of course, we have been having a heat wave for the past week or so. That added to my woes this morning. The details of the race itself on this blog will be sketchy as to be honest I seem to have blanked most of it out…
Anyway, off to the start. It was already boiling at 8:30am when the race started. Thank goodness it didn’t start at 10am like races often do! We started and I set off faster than I had said I would. My first 7kms were all under 10 min/mile, mostly about 9:30 min/mile. I am getting more experienced at racing but I *always* set out too fast. Especially on what I should have realised was going to be tough day. Danny popped up a couple of times shouting encouragement in these early stages.
This picture is from about 3 and a half miles. Things were still pretty OK then. I knew I had gone too fast and was trying to slow but had kind of settled into a rhythm. It wasn’t too hot at this point, there was still some shade to be found. I saw Stuart just about 5 miles and he was blowing a whistle and shouting in his inimitable style! Running to the halfway point – where I knew Kirsty was marshalling was a bit of a low point. It was such a hard slog up the road, in the sun, cyclists flying past me. I got to Kirsty, had to stop for a slug of water and asked if I could stop. Apparently not. LOL! I cannot remember much about the race from this point in. I was in real trouble from the halfway point to about 9 miles. It was blazing sunshine along by the river, there was no shade and no respite. About 8 miles I had to walk. I haven’t walked in a race in a long time. When I say I had no choice about it, I really didn’t. From that point on, I walked a bit in each mile. I tried to keep it to a count of 60 for each walking break. It was horrid.
From this point, Kirsty popped up quite often, acting as my very own personal water station. She had finished her marshalling stint and was cycling along the course. She really kept me going. I kept asking if I could stop/walk the rest/give up – of course I wasn’t going to but I had to ask! The funny thing is, despite being so lovely seeing her, I still was in “race” mode – when I don’t like to see people. For some reason, it was even worse today – I couldn’t bear the thought of her seeing me in such a state.
The next few miles ticked off in a very slow way, complete with my walking/”running”. I had lots more support along the way from marshalls I knew and from Sarah who is a fellow Fetchie. Kirsty had already warned her I would tell her to sod off but she wanted to come and say hello and then go again! Finally I reached the top of Riverside Drive. I know this road from training and know it’s the longest mile in the world (!!) – today was no exception. It *was* the longest mile in the world!
Coming into the finish, Danny ran down a bit with me (about 400m to go) and then I heard a roar and cheering of my name. As far as I could tell there was a gang of supporters comprising Ranelagh’s, Stragglers and Fetchies – as well as of course David and Kirsty who are all these (and more besides)! It was amazing, I even managed a smile apparently. I must confess it brought a tear to my eye – people are so supportive. I know I ran really badly today but they made me feel like I wasn’t running quite so badly. I was almost last (823rd/852)…but I know there were lots of DNF’s and I least I finished. My watch time was 2:23:59, official time 2:24:30 – around 13 minutes slower than my personal best. However, a few weeks ago, today became about managing to finish rather than running for a time. I know some people don’t like that attitude to running but for me today, that was all I could do. I look pretty chuffed to have finished I think you’ll agree.
See you on the start line next year, when I hope it will be a better race for me. Thanks to everyone who came out to support/marshall. Thanks also to Anna who has tried to keep me positive in the previous 8 weeks – I hope I won’t let you down so much next time. Here’s to the next Half…this time in Barbados.
A large number of photos that David took during the race can be found at our photography website.