Thursday, 1 December 2011

Eggs First Half Marathon

It was always my intention not to race the Downton Half Marathon. My plan was to run nice and steady, ignore the watch and enjoy the course. This plan did actually start remarkably well; instead of my usual trick of using my small stature to weave my way to the front and then realising after five minutes that I really am physically unable of running a seven minute mile whilst trying to regain some sort of breathing control, I started out at a very gentle, relaxed pace.

Five minutes in and I was caught up to by another local triathlete; we had a good old chinwag and ran together   for a mile or so. I then realised that even though I was doing this race purely for enjoyment, it was still a race and I probably could do with putting a little bit of effort in. My motivation for doing so was also something to do with the gentleman in front who had set his heart rate monitor up in such a way that it went through a series of loud bleeps approximately every eight seconds; it was completely ruining my pleasant, peaceful, countryside run and I wanted very much to evade him. The upcoming hill would be the perfect opportunity.

So I picked up the pace a little and got the legs ticking over nicely for the long incline ahead; I picked off a few of the runners in front and tried to keep myself fairly calm whilst inside my head was screaming "RUN, RUN FASTER! CATCH THE NEXT ONE!". The 3 mile marker was up ahead. I repeated the mantra "It's not about the time" over and over but as hard as I tried, I couldn't resist the urge for a sneaky glance at my watch. So sly in fact, that I was even attempting to hide it from myself and tried to pretend not to process the information. That failed. 27:40. Despite being quite pleased with that pace, I gave myself a thoroughly good talking to and decided not to try to hold the pace or beat my split or any of that nonsense.

The next couple of miles went very well, but at the 5 mile marker, something terrible happened. My belly started grumbling and it hit me that for the first time in my life, I probably hadn't eaten enough. Having come straight from swimming I'd thrown down an oaty proteinous shake but it turns out, that wasn't enough. I hadn't brought snacks, bars, gels, peanut butter and jam sarnies or anything! Between the 5 and 7 mile markers my stomach went through grumbling, rumbling, angrily shouting and finally all out screaming for help. I was ready to give up, lay down by the side of the road and just hope that somebody would find me before I wasted away completely. Mentally, it was a dark couple of miles and my pace slowed considerably.

Fortunately, just after the 7 mile marker there was a fantastic bit of downhill and I ran down it like a child running down a grassy slope, with my legs turning so quickly that I didn't think I'd ever be able to stop. The sudden, quick burst of energy gave me a psychological boost and I decided that instead of slowing down, reserving fuel and making the hunger last for longer, it would be better to get back to Downton as quickly as possible where soup and rolls were waiting.

Filling my head with images of steaming soup and freshly baked bread distracted me sufficiently, as did the very hilly loop around Castle Hill where, on emerging at the top, you are rewarded with stunning views out over the New Forest. By the time I'd admired the scenery, pegged it down another couple of steep declines and sweated by way up the inclines, 10 miles had passed. Another sneaky glance at the watch revealed that if I could run a super quick final 5k, I could possibly manage a sub two hour half marathon. I tried to up the pace but I felt like I was running on empty.

The final mile marker was approaching and I overtook a man who had been up ahead of me for ages. The moment I passed him, I could feel him speeding up behind me and trying to pass back in front. For the first time in the race, red mist set in. I found some extra energy somewhere in the legs and starting running for my life. Suddenly I didn't care about my time, I didn't care that I was hungry, I didn't care that my messy hair was stuck to my profusely sweating face, all that mattered was that I beat this man to the finish line.

We hit the final straight and I ran as hard as I could. We crossed the finish line and the very nice man came up and thanked me for "getting him through the last mile", I dared not tell him that I had absolutely no intention of helping him whatsoever but I was glad that somehow I had motivated him! A good helping of tomato and basil soup followed and as the rest of the day went on, I very much made up for the lack of food in my body, scoffing copious volumes of cake and other delicious treats.

When the times were up I saw I hadn't quite made the 2 hours, but I had managed 2:00:23. Next time I'll ensure I'm fully fed beforehand, fill my pockets with sandwiches and hopefully lose those 23 seconds!

1 comment:

  1. Brilliant, brilliant .. I'm totally out of breath!! x