Sunday, 23 January 2011
A belated Eccleshill Road Runners Christmas meal didn't seem like the best preparation for my first half marathon in quite some time. Consoling myself with the fact that it was at an Italian restaurant and I would be able to carb load on pasta and also that it was a fairly early start and a few of us were running the next day meaning we shouldn't have too much trouble being tucked up in bed at a reasonable hour, we went along and had a lovely evening and managed to be back home and bid a hasty retreat up the stairs by 11 pm.
I woke early this morning before the alarm went off at six having slept surprisingly well. I took great pleasure in going to meet fellow Err'ers at Morrisons Enterprise Five to travel across to York for the Brass Monkey Half Marathon.
Arriving in York in good time to collect our numbers and timing chips thanks to Ian and Gill we avoided the onslaught we then went on to witness, chaos wasn't even close to describing the scene as throngs of runners queued to get theirs, we then had time to hang around and chat with our own and other club runners until we eventually decided to go and warm up and head to the start line. The butterflies began, they were, fortunately, short lived. I hadn't spoken to anyone about a race plan but had decided I was really going to take it easy, although a PB course, I put all such thoughts out of my head. I really did have serious doubts as to whether I could get around the 13.1 mile course in one piece. Determination aside, the factors which are beyond my control lurked around in my thoughts, as did Peter May's advice the previous week, "if you are going to do it, be prepared to struggle" he'd said when I whined that I really wanted to do it. We set off and it became almost immediately clear that the conditions were perfect for running. The rain that had threatened us with a soggy run earlier had subsided, it was overcast and a little breezy.
I held back and decided to run with Dawn if she was happy for me to do so. A couple of times she urged me to push on but I was feeling totally comfortable and really wanted to stay that way. I've run with Dawn before and there really isn't much between our paces, she's really improved over the last twelve months and more so since she's been training for the London Marathon, as have quite a few club members, PB's were sure to be plentiful following today's race. I can still remember the feeling when I took 11 minutes off my Great North time at this race last year, I was ecstatic and I hope that's the case for some of our runners today. Alas, I can only hope that I can set my sights on a new half marathon PB this time next year.
The race progressed really well, I said to Dawn at the 3 mile mark I wished it was a 10k then we would be half way, then upon reaching the 7 mile mark that conversation seemed only moments ago. In no time at all we were at the 10 mile marker and I felt compelled to point out we only had 5k to go - a parkrun in fact! Dawn wasn't impressed at this point but I managed to keep her going with idle chat. I only hope I hadn't got on her nerves! I'll find out later....
Meanwhile I can honestly say that today I ran one of the best 13.1 miles of my life, I still hold my first Great North Run very dear! The smile on my face and the cry of 'Yes' as I crossed that finishing line today was genuinely portraying the happiness I felt at getting round the course I had earlier had serious doubts about conquering. It is also great to be part of a club where fellow members are waiting at the finish to cheer you all in and I must make a special mention to the brilliant marshals of this race too, they really did put in a big effort to spur us runners on and they are to be commended.
Onwards and upwards, today also made me realise that the last couple of cross country races were not a 'walk in the park' with either adverse weather and/or mud and hills to contend with I had no reason to doubt my ability except that I really do need to concentrate on getting my fitness back to where I was some 9 months ago and shed the few pounds I've managed to acquire over the past few months of reduced activity.