Sunday, 4 November 2012

Race report: Run to the Beat

Last Sunday I ran my first half-marathon. 5 degrees and a chilly wind meant that even after initial cursing (f f f f-ing freezingggg) it was OK to run in.

Waiting for the start with my fellow penners, I found that crouching conserved warmth and heated the air around me in a little swirl of goodness. Once we were off I started a little fast, I thought, but then I just kinda kept going a little fast...

There was a hill around mile 5 - a short, sharp, steep hill. The bugger killed me! Soon after that was another hill - longer this time. I was fed up with people overtaking me at that point so I got my glutes into gear and did better.

Pre-race my friend and I (mostly my friend) had done some maths to work out where I realistically and optimistically should be at the 1hr mark. Looking at my watch I was speedier than the optimism! WOOP! I knew the course from then on was a lot flatter and hoped my legs would keep pace.

I was looking forward to getting into Greenwich Park after a couple of boring residential miles 9 to 10. The only motivation through there were kids shouting 'TRICK OR TREAT?' which was just odd and actually not motivational at all. On the approach sporadic spectators turned into small groups which got bigger and bustling. I knew my sister was going to be somewhere near so instead of listening to the lactic acid in my legs, I focused on craning my neck around corners and searched for a familiar face.

I spotted her, and saw that mum was there too. When I ran the British 10k earlier in the year, the pissing rain made my eyes sting so much I could barely see the puddly pavement in front of me, let alone the spectators on the sidelines. That time, neither of us saw one another which was a real shame - it was a pretty miserable race. Even if you know someone's out there rooting for you, it's not really the same if you don't see them en route. So this time when I saw them I couldn't have been happier and I waved like a weirdo and skipped and jumped and grinned like a fool and pretended I wasn't hurting.

The DJ stages through the park were ace - the music carried a whole lot better than the other littler ones throughout the course and the bigger speakers allowed for some heavy bass. Around mile 4 I remember hearing Chelsea Dagger by The Fratellis (which was annoying and made me run faster to get away from it), but other than that I can't name anything else they played. I was just 'in the moment', obvs.

It got to mile 11 and I thought it was mile 10, so when it got to 12 I thought it was mile 11 etc. I was very confused and my left foot had crazy pins and needles. I looked at my watch which was a TERRIBLE idea because I started trying to do maths again and goddammit I was lost in a ridiculous mind fuzz for about half a mile.

Then there was loads of people on either side of me and they were saying 'NOT LONG LEFT! KEEP GOING!' But how long is not long!? I tried to ask my fellow runners but some were puffing and panting so hard they didn't even respond - bit rude, but I forgave them.

A few seconds later I saw the bloody finish banner in the distance. I was gutted! I thought I had at least another mile to speed up and finish strongly but had in fact been going at a snail's pace on the finishing straight. How embarrassing. I decided to stop being lame and managed a nifty sprinty 200m and crossed the line not knowing whether my left foot was attached or not but I did not care. Big smile, big relief and a decent time.

I'll be running more half-marathons.



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