The last and only half marathon I had done was in 1988! I had vowed then never to do one again, but due to running out of GP qualifying races and injuries, here I was: injured, calves strapped, in pain and facing surely the the toughest local road race on the calendar? 13 miles and 13 hills? dunno. Lost count. I turned up at 9am. Registration deadline was 10am. I eventually signed in at 9:57. I took time to convince myself that i could run 13 miles injured and still maintain a creditable position in my GP category – damage limitation only job. Queues for the loos! Bit of a farce, speaking from a mans point of view, that is. Two cubicles and space for three stand ups – four if you were thin and kept your arms in. I joined an orderly queue and eventually found myself at the entrance, only to find that half the queue was for the cubicles. Something better needed to be organised so when I finished I shouted to the twenty or so strong queue: “poos to the left and pees to the right”. This immediately speeded up the process – Organisers please take note.
So, here I am standing at the start of a half marathon after 20 years. A distance that i just dont do. A pod had been suggested, to perhaps drag us all along: Jeremy, Mark, Ian M, Don, Nancy etc. I stood in the middle fiddling with my earphones and listening to AC/DC and the like. A first for me – thought i might need something a bit extra to get me through . I was aiming at a real slow first 3 miles to try out my calves – yep definitely slow, averaging 8:20, but i have to say it gave me confidence… too much. I was just cruising. Could have run blowing a trumpet (as i often do). The marshall shouted a warning. Bearing in mind I had earphones on, I thought she said: “spank you coming up”. I ripped my phones off and said: “what?” . “Bad hill coming up”. Ah, ok. Not so good then. Now at this point I had my first adrenalin rush. I found runners panting and walking by half way up this hill, but I seem to be sailing past everyone. Overtook at least 40 by the top and by 4 miles I thought this was a piece of p*ss. Au contraire. Should know not to get complacent.
By 5 miles my calves were giving me severe gip, and just 8 miles to go!! I had passed Yvonne T and Ian G before the start of this hill and wondered if i should ease back and let them catch up and drag me along? I was now finding going down hill as bad as going up. The only place I could increase my pace a little was on the flat, which meant out of the whole race about 4 feet 6 inches! I was in agony by 7 and knew I still had a 10k race ahead of me! “If I can just drag through till 10 miles, and then i can walk the rest” – that was spinning around my head. The hills kept on coming non-stop. My mind was full of resentment and anger that anyone could put a race like this on the calendar. 8 came up, then 9, and then a strange thing happened. In my mind, I could see the finish. Although I had been in abject misery and pain, the adrenalin kicked in for the second time. It’s bloody dangerous stuff. I set myself a goal: overtake 50 before the finish. I overtook 50 in the next half mile, so I set myself another goal: 50 more before the finish. I lost track or got bored at about 35, but it was well over 50 by the end. It’s amazing what adrenalin can do. My mile times came down to 6.30, but oh am I paying for it all right now!!! I found zigzagging up the hills helped me, much to the surprise and confusion of other competitors and mirth of certain marshals. I crossed the line in an abysmal time, but still 4 minutes faster than 20 years ago. Mark O… well… as usual, had foot problems compounded by the dreaded timing chip on the card tied to his shoe. Not quite sure how that caused blisters, but whatever happened, he had to stop half way through and take off the card which caused problems at the end, because it didnt register with the time keeper.
Some excellent times from the team over a really difficult course. Wish I could do these sorts of times over this distance. John Doyle, first home for club in 1.30.09. and 2nd in his age cat. Don 1.32.09 and 2nd for club. Nancy 1.40.24 and 3rd in age cat. Rachel 1.41.20 and 2nd in age cat plus ladies 3rd team prize. So well done ladies. Newquay 10 k next. Too close for comfort as far as i’m concerned. Need at least a week to recover and that will leave me just a week to get back into it. I’m still in with a shout of a top 3 place in my GP age cat, but the phrase ‘a bridge too far’ comes to mind. Well done everyone, for taking on the most horrendous road course that I have personally experienced.