8 03 2009

The last time I ran a half marathon race (13.1 miles) was on the 15th May 1983 in Chester. I ran that race in 1 hour 42 and I had just turned 17. The course from memory had been flat.

Today was my greatest running achievement to date. In my opinion it surpassed what I did then as I ran under 2 hours at the age of 43 with training conditions being far from ideal. What also pleased me was that I ran a really steady race and kept to my race strategy. On this occasion it all paid off. I was lapped by someone but he was much faster than last year’s winner !

We arrived at Oulton Park in good time and we got chatting to Craig who is training for the Edinburgh marathon in the Autumn. I must say most runners I have met on this “adventure” have been extremely nice and supportive. Craig certainly fell into the bracket – and a useful athlete to boot.

It was quite tricky deciding what to wear today with the changeable nature of the weather. Some guys were wearing next to nothing and the odd person even coats ! Well I stuck to the middle ground. Track suit trousers and two layers on top.

The athletes lined up on the starting grid (yes a real one this is a race track) shivering and warming up and before we knew it we were off ! It was pretty cold but not as bad as it looked. My race tactics for this three lap course were to run steadily on the first lap, work hard on the second and then just hang on in there on the third.

Like a caged animal at the start !

Like a caged animal at the start !

The course was undulating with a brutal cold wind. The first two miles or so were flat, then alongside a lake and finished with a hair pin bend with a reasonable rise. I reached my first mile marker at 8:45 and then knew I just had to keep under 9 minute miles thereafter and run at that pace. The hill was testing but Burton hill had given me the strength to see it through. Towards the top of the course we then transferred to the infield, past Chequers cafe with Helen and the boys waving me on, around a rally course and then back out again to finish the lap. I was settled and comfortable and was delighted to complete my first lap in well under 38 minutes (target time 40 mins or 2 hours for the three laps).

By now the weather had started to turn very nasty indeed, the second lap was run in pelting hail followed by steady rain. I had to look at the ground for quite a while to stop the hail drilling into my face. This was the lap where I had decided to kick on a bit. The conditions were against it but my effort ensured I didn’t lose time. I was approximately 3-4 minutes within my target time. I just had to hang on in there on the final lap.

I think it was around this time I had my battle with “Bambi”. Bambi was a beautifully light female runner that overtook me. She looked like she was floating. She stopped to tie her lace. I overtook her and then she floated past me once again. Grrrr ! I would keep her in my sights. If I could hang on in there with her in sight I was sure to get a decent time. I don’t know what happened to her. We both stopped at the drink stop. I overtook her and that was it. I expected her to come past again but she never did ! Campione Campione !!

On the third lap I dug deep and continued pushing for as long as my body could take it. I arrived at around 11 miles by which time my pace must have been reducing. At 12.5 miles and back on to the track I gave it everything. I knew I would be under 2 hours. I overtook a guy wearing a jumper, another guy carrying a heavy back pack. These made me feel so humble but still I was going to enjoy the moment.

As I came to the final straight I felt the excitement and the emotion. For a brief moment I welled up. As I approached the finishing line I could see I was well within 2 hours, made one final push and then saw my family just as I was crossing the line.

I didn’t think it would hit me quite so hard at the finish. After all it is only a step towards my final goal. But I must admit to a tear or two. I was just so happy to have achieved my time, I had paced myself beautifully (pretty sure my first two laps were similar times) and had proved to myself that I am now a long distance runner.

Finished and just a little overcome !

Finished and just a little overcome !




2 responses

10 03 2009
Renate - Oma

I Just enjoyed reading your lastest blog entries. Congratulations on your half marathon. It was fascinating to follow the course on the video clip. You can be justly proud of your achievement. The two photos capture the event most beautifully and touchingly. Good luck and stamina for the next run. Renate-Oma.

15 03 2009

Finally getting round to saying a big CONGRATULATIONS! This time last year,who’d have thought you would be doing a half marathon in spring 2009?Bloody impressive stuff Mister!

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