In my infinite wisdom I have decided that my half marathon running must be a bit like childbirth – a pain soon forgotten or why would I do it again and again?!
And yesterday’s experience was no different. In fact I got a PW (personal worst) and this despite the fact I didn’t go off too fast, didn’t have to resort to walking until much later in the run and even once walking was introduced, there was still so much more running than walking than last year. So how come I was five minutes slower? One thing I am proud of is that I did manage to run up (and down) the dreaded railway bridge after mile 10 – a first! I was very determined and my jaw ached from gritted teeth afterwards.
Some very kind people have put it down to the awful weather conditions yesterday but I have to say, it wasn’t nearly as bad as the forecasters and weather apps had predicted. The running weather fairy was kind to us in that part of Kent.
Admittedly there was rain before the start but it was only that annoying, can’t make up its mind type of rain. Once the run was underway, the rain appeared to have dried up. Although during the first two miles I couldn’t help but notice the dark skies looming in the direction we would be travelling.
After about half way those dark clouds started to offload their wares but nothing outrageous until somewhere between mile 10 and 11 when the heavy rain combined with the strong wind, meant I couldn’t actually see where I was going. Not that they obliterated the view in front of me, just that the rain was blown into my eyes and it was getting a bit difficult to keep those eyes open. Fortunately it didn’t last too long. There were however quite a few strong gusts of wind and a number of occasions when I started to feel like I was going backwards.
The run itself is very well organised and despite the loss of on site parking this year, it didn’t seem to cause too many problems. Or perhaps that was just because I got there early and parked easily in the station car park opposite. These alternative arrangements also seemed to work quite well in extracting myself from Paddock Wood post run. I had envisaged being marooned until the run was over and the roads re-opened but that didn’t happen. I managed to exit the area effortlessly and all without harming any of the remaining runners finishing the course.
The course starts and finishes in the town but the vast majority of the route is out through open countryside, very rural and very beautiful. Lots of oast houses and farms, together with a sign warning of moor hens crossing. Made me smile before and made me smile yesterday 🙂 The crowd support along the route was amazing considering the weather, I even recognised a few of the marshals from the local running community. The runners themselves are very supportive, on one of my walk interludes a kind lady checked that I was ok – did I look that bad!?
The previous day I had been questioning the need for the two sponge stations en route in view of the forecast but I did make use of one of them. Although, forgetting that I was using my running buff in its hair band format, I didn’t get quite the usual sense of overwhelming pleasure as the cold water cooled down my overheated brain.
At the end of the run, core strength was sorely tested by having to stand on one leg while a steward tried to detach my timing chip from my shoe – I nearly ended up grabbing hold of the poor man beside me. And I couldn’t help noticing as I walked away from the race area, that all us bedraggled runners looked like we’d just fallen out of the pub after a heavy session on a Saturday night, we were staggering all over the place. It amused me anyhow!
So, returning to my opening remarks. During the run, I decided never to do this again (I had the same thought last year), I also decided to give up half marathons and stick to 10ks and whilst mentally acknowledging that I still had a place in the Great North Run, I even contemplated cancelling my hotel reservation. By the time I got home, I had decided against the latter but I did change my recent thoughts about perhaps driving up to Newcastle to “no, definitely catching the train”. By the time I went to bed, there was a little yellow post-it note in my diary to remind me that places for the 27th Brooks Paddock Wood Half Marathon would open in October.
This morning, there’s a sneaky little thought of oh well, it wasn’t that bad. Perhaps there’s still some mileage left! Although I have also been busy printing off 10k entry forms for the next six months.
So 24 weeks until my next half and training gets underway tomorrow. But if/when I do take part, I am not, positively not, emphatically not, chasing a PB. I’m taking part to “enjoy the experience” 🙂