Monday, April 30, 2012
I did it!
I turned up, started with the pack and eventually crossed the finish line 3 and a half hours later! It was horrendous!
Exert from organisers “An impressive 2500 runners turned up yesterday to compete in the worst weather conditions we've experienced in over 30 years of organising the race. Thank you. “They were not kidding. We ran in torrential rain, gale force winds, and a chill factor more suitable to the middle of winter and hailstorms!
I have to say at this point that the people who turned out in those conditions to man water stations and guide us round the course are absolute saints.
I naively thought that this, my first ever Half-Marathon, would be a test of how far I could run and whether I had the determination to push my tired legs to complete the whole 13 miles. It turned into a gruelling, me against the elements which had me in tears twice and swearing loudly up at the heavens on more than one occasion.
I had my race plan in my head and was going for a steady 8.5 min/km to ensure a sub-3 hour finish. Unfortunately, I was in the loo when the announcement came that due to weather conditions the route had been changed slightly and we were heading off in the opposite direction to expected. This would have been fine if I hadn’t joined the pack at the last minute only to find they were all facing the wrong way and I was dangerously near the front! The pack was too tight for me to move down so I did my best to keep up at the start and produced a cracking first 2km time before I felt it safe to collapse back into the speed I should have been doing.
The next few km were steadily up hill and I enjoyed waving at people I knew and settling into my stride. As the route left town and headed into the beautiful Warwickshire countryside I admired the bluebells and started singing my HM song “I’m on the edge of glory”. The rain was unrelenting but the wind was pushing me from behind and even the hailstones at the peak of the hill could not dampen my mood. I hit the 7km point bang on schedule and felt terrific.
As I turned towards town the wind hit me full in the face and the whole race changed. The rain was biting and driving straight at me. At times I couldn’t even move forward. By the end of the 14km point I was 10 mins off target, soaked through and running on very tired legs. Kind people asked if I wanted a lift to the finish but I felt that I had to at least run further than the 10miles I had done in training before chucking in the towel. (A towel would have been a great addition to the water stations.)
From there until the finish I battled and walked and cried (twice) and cursed and tried alternating which soaking wet gloved hand I had behind my back to try and get some feeling back in my fingers. I had read that an Olympic marathon runner “stayed in the moment”. He didn’t think of the miles to go or the distance travelled. He just enjoyed the moment. I decided that was incredibly stupid when the “moment” was sheer hell and had an argument with myself about it (in my head).
A walker caught me up (demoralising but fortuitous) and the camaraderie perked me up and as the wind took a temporary lull I was able to pick up the pace and make it the last few miles.
My husband, who ran it in 1 hour 47 (also a first timer!) had been waiting so long for me to finish he couldn’t stop shivering. We abandoned any thought of food and drink and headed straight home. It took a hot bath, warm bed and hot water bottle to make us feel normal again.
It was more a test of endurance and stupidity than my ability to run and I am now looking out of the window at a beautiful sunny day. Chilly with a slight breeze and thinking how much different it would have been today.
Part of me is thinking – maybe in the Autumn………..