3 o’clock in the morning and it looks like it’s gonna be another sleepless night – now I reckon Crystal Gayle wrote that lyric before a race! It was piddling it down outside and battering against my window! Both Sue and I woke up, looked at each other and both had the same thought – the weather man had got it right for once and Plymouth Half Marathon was gonna be wet, windy and cold. The alarm went off at 5.45 and up we got – at least it had stopped raining and the wind had dropped, perhaps we may be lucky after such a rough night? It had blown over Cornwall but what’s the betting it would hit Plymouth Hoe as the race started?!?

Getting everyone in the car it seemed that others had also had a restless night – Marie wondering if her alarm would sound on her new mobile phone – Paul H who had to listen to a domestic outside his window from a couple of drunks and Nigel, well we won’t ask!

Roads were clear and I thought I’d park in the same place as last year, 8am we arrive in the carpark – OK a little early but for those who know my pre race ritual (so many creams and ointments to run in) £3 for 3 hours max, I’d have to run a world record to get back for that one but we walked up to find out MY number – Mrs G had got our numbers mixed up, so we didn’t know who was who and then we’d come back to the car and get ready. Bumping into Dan, who happened to mention he had a house in Plymouth 5 minutes away! Entrepreneur we thought, until we found out it was his student digs that he’s paid rent on till the end of the month! Job done and back to the car park we all went.

Having a hurty knee, so much so at juniors on Friday found it difficult to walk let alone run, I must say it wasn’t feeling too bad today but a whole tube of ibuprofen and half a dozen pills would see me through – that along with half a tub of Vaseline – I would not be chaffing today!! I also offered the rest of the team my vas services, I thought Marie was tempted, but no, the only further use came from Nige taking a scoop for his nether regions – nobody even wanted use of my new discovered nip protectors! So I thought I’d give them a miss also – much to the disgust of fellow MBHers who found great amusement in me applying a little lubrication to the tips of my man boobs!

Walking to the start, we bumped into Matt Lewis, who was gunning for 1.16, a determined Chris P from Packet of 3 tri club, who said he hadn’t been running much (he finished in 1.27!) Sharon Daw, who recently cycled the 100 mile (she did about 1.30), a few friends from Penzance PC Pete and PC Jo and a couple from Plymouth Tri Club.

We lined up along with the other 4 thousand or so runners in the times we thought we’d achieve – Nige and I sat in just behind the 1.30 pacer, Paul 1.45, Marie, Sue and Dan 2 hrs – the start line was a few feet away but you can see everything on a large TV screen – the gun went off and away we went – took a little time to cross the timing mats but we were away – a bit congested but we were away and the weather was warming up – no rain!

I could see Tony O’Keefe from PTC along with Nige sticking close to the 1.30 pacer for about the first 8 miles and I must say the support from the crowds along the streets in the city and up through the park was amazing, Tony had won the over 50’s AG at last weeks Marazion Middle – he’d recovered well and didn’t look that tired – I knew by reading PTC forum that he was also looking for sub 1.30 so I thought I’d let him drag me around. 8 miles in and the lack of training started to show, knee wasn’t too bad tho’ –  I was losing touch with the pacer, Tony and Nigel – coming into the subway part I was just going under as Nige was coming out – I wasn’t that far adrift, I tried to up the pace a bit and caught Tony – it was last year at this point that I hung onto Lisa Pictons behind (metaphorically speaking) and bugger me there she was again – except she wasn’t running, she was at the side of the road on her bike – she passed words of encouragement and all I could think of was that the view to the finish wouldn’t be what it was last year.

Once again support from the crowds was fantastic and coming into the last 2 miles I thought I was still on for about 1.30 – I knew I was tiring tho’ and ran past Mark S from Newquay RR, Tony was on my shoulder as we hit the dreaded hill that you think is the finish but the sneaky races organisers get you to go another ¾ mile! A shout from the sidelines to Tony – it was another PTC member Graham! This put a spring in Tonys step and away he went.

Best bit of the race for me coming up—–approaching the final straight finishing line a shout goes out ‘come on MBH, come on Ian’ it was Kay from ‘At Your Pace’ in Helston cheering from the sidelines – off I went and dug the last bit of energy to catch Tony right on the line – I knew I had a faster chip time than him as I saw him at the start bout 50 yards in from before I crossed the chip mat.

The organisation is excellent – crossing the line you are given – medal (a really nice bespoke medal) – T shirt – water – orange juice – goody bag (containing no end of freebies) you then get ushered into the runners only area where there is an abundance of pastries, sport drinks and bars (SIS) flapjacks, sweet, buns, drinks, tea, coffee, soup – massage area – baggage reclaim

I found Nige and we both go to look over the railings to watch others suffer as they believe they are so close to finishing (but yet so far)

We miss Paul and Marie but arrive just in time to see SpongeBob Square pants get the better of my Mrs! And Scooby Doo, and 2 Elvis (or is it Elvi?) and a few thousand others!

At the end of the day a fantastic run and a new PB from Nige of 1.27.49, I managed 1.33.27 (3 mins down on last year) Paul H 1.49.04,  Marie 1.57.05, farthest she’d ever run and first attempt at half marathon, so a new PB, Sue, 2.15.38, missing out on a PB by 9 seconds! And Dan L, 2.30.51, again first time at half marathon and farthest he’d ever run

I would recommend this race to all – fantastic organisation, great pre and post race, great T shirt, medal goody bag all for £18 – we even got our results texted to us at 2.30!! Go for it next year

If I were to raise a point of criticism to the race organisers  it would be that this year they refused to transfer any entries to different names – now because the race fills very quickly and way before the race date if you get injured or unable to run, you either have to run as someone else (not really allowed) or lose your £18 entry fee – considering today they were boasting that they had 5000 runners entered yet only 3438 finished – that’s either a lot of DNF or more likely a lot of DNS – so come on organisers let get the change of runner allowed again for next year.