Sunday, 13 December 2009

My first half marthon

So, my proper road to middle distance begins with a half marathon. I entered this 6 weeks ago, on the basis that since I'm doing it in a tri I ought to do it alone.  My training for this hasn't exactly been standard, or of high quality.  The first long run (over 10km) I've done in 2.5 months was 2 weeks ago, a rather slow 15 km effort taking nearly 2 hours, last weekend I managed 13 km equally slowly, but more painful.  Then after training on Tuesday I realised I had a cold. A break from training was required and mostly recovered, but no training for 4 days before the event.

So the day of the race dawns. Up 3 hours before the start for the standard bowl of cereal. Luckily my Dad gave me a lift to near the start line an hour before the start. Timing chip collected, portaloo used, bag with warm clothes dropped off. Now time for some warm up drills.  All was going well, until running through a crowded bit, with my eyes forward to avoid people I wasn't paying attention to the road.  SPLOSH!  Seems I found the pothole in the car park and now had soaking wet feet.  Distinctly unpleasant on a cold morning.  As my toes turned to blocks of ice it was time to stand still and get in line, just what I wanted to do.

McMillan Running calculator reckoned I should be able to do this in 1:47:13. Given my cold I would have been happy with anything under 2 hours.  So I stood at the 1:50:00 mark.  There was some announcement at this point I couldn't hear then we were allowed to walk onto the road for the start.  The start came and I crossed the line 30s after the gun.  The first couple of miles were largely uneventful. With the exception of some idiot in a van trying to reverse out of his drive into 2000 runners, even after a number of people slapped the back doors he kept reversing. Around mile 2 my heart rate belt slipped down off my chest.  Note to self don't bother running with this again, it annoyed me for the next 11 miles and naturally didn't work.  The first water station was fine, then the first short, sharp hill, I tackled it really well making up loads of places.  Coming into the second water station I took my gel, took some water then spilt almost all of it as some idiot stopped to drink her water 0.5m in front of me, needless to say I ran into the back of her spilling my ice cold water all down her back, at least there is some justice.

After 5 minutes the stomach cramp came.  OK, push through it, it's probably just not enough water with that gel.  Then it was time for the mentally draining hills.  They just seemed to go on and on. The leap frogging began here, people would overtake me, then 2 minutes later I would surge back, and so on.  Time for the third water station, take gel, take water, 5 mins later get cramp. D'Oh! seems whilst High5 gels agree in training the don't in races. Duly noted.  The race just went on and on at this point, till I reached the 12 mile mark and saw the church, thank god nearly over.  One final push.

As I come in towards the finish chute I spot my Dad with the camera, I try to smile.  One final push for the finish.  Over the line in 1:47:03 by my watch.  At this point my legs stop working.  My timing chip gets cut off, I walk towards the water. Have to keep stopping as my legs start shaking. At this point a marshal asks if I'm OK. Well what do you think? I've just 13.1. miles, 30% more than I've ever run. I'm hardly going to be dancing about am I.

So a great result, but a hard one. Now the demon on my shoulder is asking whether I can do this after swimming 1.2 miles and biking 56 miles? He may have a point, but I have 160 days to prepare to prove him wrong.

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