September 8, 2013
I am really going to try not to moan about the logistics of this race, or the new route which I hated, cos if I focused on that it would be hard to see the positives that have come from today.
So a bit of background. I have done RuntotheBeat 3 times before, in 2009, 2010 and 2011 in fact in 2009 it was my first half marathon, and a huge milestone for me and I finished in 2.44 – a benchmark I suppose for the future. In 2010 I signed up again promising I would train, instead I went off to a friends wedding in Aiya Napa and flew back the day before, so was hugely dehydrated and underprepared but still managed a time of 2.55. In 2011 I did train, but the logistics on the day were terrible with problems on the jubilee line causing a delay to the start of over an hour, and it was soooo cold. I clocked a 2.42 a course PB this time.
So why do it again?
I love the course, the atmosphere on the course and the challenge of trying to improve my time over the same course. But this year all that changed. The route was changed, starting and finishing in Greenwich Park instead of the O2….oh no I said I wasn’t going to moan!!
Let’s start again.
My day started at 6.45 with Rose waking up. I changed her nappy, put her in bed with her dad and got myself ready. I was out of the house an hour later and off to the station to meet some peeps from my running club. It was nice having people to travel to the start with and I even followed the ladies into a faster pen (very naughty of me I know)
The atmosphere was great. And although I was nervous I was looking forward to just getting started. A few stretches and then we were off.
Now, the problem with being in a faster pen is that you get taken over at such a rate that you feel like you are running backwards, but I didn’t care I just got stuck in and ran, I felt ok…I knew I was working hard and when I reached the 5k point I realised I’d just run a PB, well a post pregnancy PB…and then at mile 4 disaster struck in the form of a bottle neck…no in fact this was more of a bottle recorked…I stood for at least 10 minutes trying to get into the barracks at woolwich, when the crowds finally started to move it was because the security guards had started telling runners to miss out the barracks all together. What a dilemma, get a better time but not run the full distance and miss out on a vital drinks station? Or insist on running the proper course despite the hold up.
So that kinda threw me. By now my quads and my hips were hurting me, I’d not even passed the half way point yet…wow. I started walking and I knew my chances of getting a decent time had gone.
I was getting a lot of support from the crowds and from fellow runners, in fact I had loads of people tell me they followed me on twitter or read my blog, or simply “I love your shirt” where I had written “fattymustrun” on the back…it was a great moral boost but I was still feeling a bit down in the dumps.
By the half way point I think everyone in my vicinity was pretty much feeling the same. The crowds had thinned, the music was a bit non existent thanks to some broken generators and the sights were far from scenic and that’s when I heard “well…what you waiting for? Your shirt says you have to run…so run!” so I did. It was a lovely northern lass called Lisa…we ran side by side for a while discussing how tough we were finding it…and that was enough to get me back on track.
By now we were approaching the O2 a soul destroying up and back part of the route with small pockets of crowds, I ran as much as I could and walked when I needed to. A lady running towards me at about 10feet away shouted…no screamed in fact “oh my god it’s fattymustrun…I love you”, which made me laugh for the next mile or so.
The next mile through Woolwich Rd was terrible, everyone was walking, the streets were empty, the weather had changed and I knew there was still like 3 miles to go. One thing made me laugh along this section though, there was a little boy, he could only have been 6 or 7, he didn’t look like he was with anyone and he was like a one man cheering machine, he was something else…”great job”, “keep going”, it was like he was on a mission to support each and every runner (well ok walker), he’s gonna have a sore voice come tomorrow that’s for sure.
Now I had been looking forward to the atmosphere in Greenwich seeing as it was the end of the race, but it was dead. I started running again but only because there was still a chance I could finish under 3 hours. The route in Greenwich park was just cruel. Spectators were walking in amongst the runners, and to top it off there was like a miles worth of a hill. Seriously. Mile 12 was a hill. Luckily I saw my sister in law and my nephew half way up, and she screamed and cheered loads and ran alongside me up the hill with a pushchair I might add…which shows just how slow I was running. Then came a silly cross shaped detour around the park to make up the remaining half mile before you turned a corner and saw the finishing arch.
I’d done it. With a chip time of 3.02 which I am completely disputing. Instead I am going on my garmin time of 2.54 which is still being generous as I only paused it after realising I wasn’t going anywhere fast at mile 4. But anyway, time aside I’d done it. I had run a half marathon in under 3 hours and less than 8 months after having my daughter. To be honest I got a bit chocked up thinking about it as I queued to collect my medal.
There was a festival atmosphere back in the park by the stage, and no other than Jessie J was headlining the music. I couldn’t find any of my running club buddies, who had no doubt finished over an hour ago and were rehydrating down the pub…and it felt a bit weird partying by myself, so I headed to the DLR station.
I got home after 3pm…crazy considering I had left home first thing this morning. I was sore, emotional and shattered. But Rose was so chuffed to see me, if a little baffled by my red face and the strange metal thing hanging around my neck.
In 4 weeks I will be attempting the Lisbon Half, and I am determined to have a better race experience. Now I know I can do the distance I need to up my long runs and hopefully this will translate into a better time.
I just want to say a huge thanks to everyone who said hello today, the people that wished me luck via twitter and Facebook and everyone who sponsored me. Today was huge for me…and even with the massive problems that the organisers and sponsors Nike have to deal with, I personally got a lot from the race, even if it’s only now I can see it.