Sat in the car this morning in a muddy field, rain belting down and wife and kids still tucked up in bed, really did question what I was doing. I spose I should have been happy that I thought I was fit enough to do this half, with the 2 weeks lead up giving me a bad cold and some major nipple issues, was hardly ideal preparation.
Went for a wander in between showers, and found a van that had a coffee machine in the back, but it was also grinding the beans there and then. Fresh coffee, result!! I hadn’t had my morning expresso for fear of waking everyone up so that was a welcome sight. Had that back in the car, listening to Talksport and having my traditional pre race banana.
Time to get ready. My major dilemma was whether to wear my running tights. To be honest, it wasn’t that cold, just windy and wet so I did without, which proved to be the correct choice. Hate getting too hot when I’m running and was just right today.
Ten minutes to off, so I wander up to the start line. My Garmin 910 was taking its time to pick up the satellites but eventually gets sorted. Everything nice and smooth, until I noticed the Garmin was locked. How did I do that? And more to the point, how do I undo that??!! Bit of a flap, pressing various combinations of buttons and a look around for someone wearing the same but no luck. 60 seconds before the start, get the magic words “unlocked” and I’m done. Hardly any time to breath a sigh of relief, and we’re off.
The start was a little chaotic. There were apparently nearly 1000 runners entered but the start had us running down what was quite a narrow path. If you stepped off the path, then there was a chance you’d go ankle deep into the mud so I tried to stay on the path, but to be perfectly honest, there were a lot in front who were slower than I wanted to go so I risked the “off road” track a couple of times. Good job I’ve done some running on the beach at Abersoch as it felt just like that. There was also some standing water on the track so there was quite a lot of bumping and barging as people tried to avoid the puddles. Guess it was running equivalent of the start to an Ironman swim!!
It did spread out a little once we got out of the Hall’s grounds but not before we had to filter over a narrow ish bridge. Personally, I like my own space when I’m running so I didn’t enjoy that first mile or so, and it was also a lot slower than I would have liked but I soon got a little bit of room and got myself into my zone. I don’t listen to music when I’m out running so I just try and enjoy the scenery, sing or talk to myself (in my head, not outloud!!) or give myself little targets to hit.
This is probably the first half that I’ve done where I’ve actually had a plan beforehand. I’m not particularly quick, my previous best was 1 hour 57 minutes so I was determined to keep under 2 hours, but ideally wanted to get below 1 hour 50 minutes. That meant keeping to round about 8 1/2 minute miles and after my first slow mile I was doing 8 1/4 minute miles which gave me some breathing space for when I slowed later. I also had 3 power gels that I planned to trial. These are the ones that are used at IMUK so may as well see if they agree with me, which again was another good choice looking back.
It was quite an uneventful run for me where I was. There were a few cars that came the other way but they kept to their side. The weather sort of held off, had a few little showers but nothing too bad, until I got to about mile 11 when it just dropped. I had a little bit of a wobble round about mile 3 but took a gel and a bottle of water from the first water station and seemed to cure it. Did worry me a little at the time but convinced myself that it was down to not having a great preparation and also not having enough fuel in me. Didn’t have my traditional pasta bake the night before as I was at a fireworks display. Round about mile 5, a load of cyclists appeared on our shoulders. Made a nice change for them to be stuck behind us as we were 2/3 abreast!!
Pretty much kept my pace up to about mile 10, then started to slow a little. Think that must be down to my preparation but was still ok. Took my last gel and had a mouthful of water from the bottle I’d kept from the second water station and tried to up my pace but struggled. Good job I kept that bottle as the last water station at mile 10 seemed to have run out. Although I wasn’t at the front, there were quite a few behind me so for the water station to run out of water is abit of a poor show.
Soon arrived back at the Hall’s grounds and this time, it was much easier going over the bridge!! Quite a small entrance to the finish but a lot of people there to give encouragement. Nice feeling to squelch over the line through the mud, pick up a drink and the goody bag with the medal and t shirt in.
Finished in 1 hour 53 minutes and 33 seconds, which is a PB for me, so not going to complain. Over the past 3 1/2 years that I’ve been doing HM’s, my time has come down from just off 2 1/2 hours to this so have to be happy. Having said that, there’s about 4 stones less of me to drag around the course now!!
For all my little criticisms, I enjoyed the day and will probably be back next year. It’s certainly a better way to finish my year on a PB for my HM than walking back to Wilmslow pushing my bike with 2 flats having dropped out of the South Manchester Triathlon.