Sunday 22 March
Here we are. The real thing.
I’ve not been nervous or worried at all about this event until Karen posted some km/per hour times I could aim for to get around in a sub 2 hour time. Looking at them last night I thought, I can do that. That is do-able. But it made me nervous as suddenly the thought of not achieving it became a bigger problem.
When I look back on this journey my original predicted time was 2.24 (ish) and I was not happy with that. Karen rewrote my programme for 2.15 and then gave me some suggestions for a sub 2 hour time. So the achievement has been moved on many occasions from where I was 10 weeks ago.
My attitude has changed too. If sub 2 hours is possible then I would of course want to achieve it. But if I can’t do that then something under 2.08 (my 1998 time) would be great. If I can’t get that then something around 2.15 would be OK and anything over that would be too slow for my liking. I’m not saying it’s a bad time, but it’s not what I want to achieve.
My worst fear was a hot day. I don’t do exercise and heat very well. I find it draining and I sweat a lot and get dehydrated quickly.
So although there was a brisk wind this morning, the weather was really nice. Great for the spectators, less so for runners like me who don’t like the heat.
I am amazed at how many clothes people wear to run in.
Long trousers, long sleeved tops, gilets, fleeces, coats, gloves, wigs, fancy dress….I was hot just looking at them.
It was all about the crop leggings and vest for me. That was plenty.
I picked my two girls up and we parked and walked to the stadium. Took advantage of a wee break and then made our way to our coloured start positions.
There was a lot of waiting around and it was a little nervy. The lady pacemaker for 2.05 was right in our section and I thought I’d attempt to stay with her once we got going.
It took our wave of runners about 20-25 minutes to start so when we did finally get going I managed to discard my fleece and had my map tracking running on my phone. I’d fiddled with the music too much and had lost that so decided to run without music and just soak up the atmosphere.
I managed to stay with the 2.05 pacemaker until we got to the hill at mile 2-3 at Hartland Road. I was already very hot and lost her as she ran up there and didn’t have anything in my legs to add a spurt to catch her.
Bum. Not going to break 2 hours today.
I saw my Dad at the top of the hill which was a nice boost. I felt I was struggling fairly early on and somehow managed to miss the first two water stations. So when the next one came along I made sure I got some water as I felt pretty dry.
I knew to expect a FastTrack banner at Reading University and saw them before they saw me. I had Avneet chasing me along the road for a photo which was very sweet. However I also heard (and saw) two other Fit Campers at two different places at the Uni which was lovely (thank you Fiona and Paul).
The bit through the University I found quite long and I found myself running behind a man in a red wig and full on inflatable sweat suit. It wasn’t inflated, but he must have been boiling and so I decided not to let him get in front of me. 🙂
We came out of the Uni and headed into Reading. I was struggling and it was only about 5 miles in. I had a jelly baby and hoped that would help but found that I was so dry that they made me even more thirsty. I decided to schedule jelly babies around water stations in future.
The support in the Reading Half is amazing. Some streets go to a lot of effort and London Street were exceptional. It was noisy, there was some rave music blaring out and it was a real party atmosphere. It made me forget that I wasn’t enjoying myself too much.
It was at this point that I reached a point that no non-charity-running-normal-person should have to encounter in a race…the Water Aid pantomime camel (2 man), male Genie and Aladdin all ran past me. A bloody panto camel! One of the camel runners couldn’t see and had water handed to him under his costume. The camel was running sideways so they could run forwards.
It kind of made me realise that I wasn’t at my best and probably wasn’t running a great pace.
As we ran through Reading there were breaks from the heat of the sun. We may have gone under an underpass or run on a shady side of the street which was sweet relief as I was Sweaty Betty and everytime I got water at the water stations I chucked most of it over my head as I was overheating and feeling nauseous.
In Reading town centre I saw another FastTrack banner (thank you Gill, Claire and Judith) and then managed to see Caroline round near Metro Bank which was great as I wanted to make sure I saw the people who had told me they’d be out.
The slog of the miles between 8 – 11 were tough. It was probably about midday by then and I was heavy legged and hot.
The final stretch down the A33 to the stadium felt long and slow and painful. I could have managed it better if I had walked (taken a break) and then carried on running again. But my goal was to run it all and so I didn’t. I may regret that decision!
Seeing the 12 mile banner was both nice and tough. I reckoned another 10 minutes, but it dragged on and when I did finally see the stadium looming up in front of me I had lots of people running past me much faster and lighter on their feet. I had nothing left to give, I felt a frazzle! I was very grateful to Janet and Paul who waved down that stretch but it may not have looked like it to them as I think I just managed a glance over my shoulder at them .
Running into the stadium was great. Lots of noise and the big arch to run through. The clock was reading something like 2.35 when I got in and although I knew I had taken a long time to get over the start I was still a bit surprised at the time.
I finally crossed the line and just stopped. My legs were solid, I could barely move them and I was bloody pleased it was all over. It wasn’t an enjoyable race and I was a bit miffed that it appeared to be slower than I would have liked.
No sooner than I had got into the stadium and my phone ran out of charge and so it wasn’t until some time later that I was able to see my time from the chip.
At first I was fairly ambivalent about it and declaring to the girls that I was never going to do it again and that I was right 17 years ago when I said the same thing.
But, like childbirth, within the half hour it took us to drive up the Basingstoke Road, I declared that I wanted to do another one and get a much better time.
It’s not that I think 2.16 is slow, but I know I can do better and I have a sneaky competitive side to me that won’t let that go. So do I either run a half marathon as we approach the summer knowing the temperature will be an issue or run the Reading one next year and go through this training all again?
I don’t know the answer to that, although I am sure Karen will have an idea or two, but I’ll sleep on it.
I started this blog as a declared ‘non-runner’.
I can’t say that now. I did it, I completed it and ran it all.
However my mind is still not that of a runner. I don’t long to go out and run. I don’t have an urge to get medals and enter events. I don’t run for no good reason. But I do want to be better. To set a good example to others who think they are non-runners and don’t want to start. So I may find myself in future running events looking for PBs until some better idea comes my way and takes a hold.
Many people did PB today. I salute them.
Many people ran in fancy dress, with cement mixers on their back, with a helper tethered to their wrist, for charity, in memory of a loved one or to prove to themselves that they could.
I stood and watched runners coming into the stadium for about an hour after I’d finished and I stood there and cried at the bloody mindedness of these people.
Many were not what you’d class a runner. They looked in pain and battled on. How dare I not like my time when finishing was good enough for these people? It’s a very humbling experience an event like this. Whether you run or watch you see a lot of absolute will power, mind over matter and good in people which we forget about when our lives get a bit tricky.
I didn’t enjoy the race, but I did enjoy the experience.
Thank you for reading this blog. I hope it inspires you to try something new, do something that you don’t think you are capable of, give something a go. For you and you only. And enjoy both the journey and the experience.
The End. Heidi