Thursday 13 March 2014

Hat Trick of Halves - Done!

After the first two half marathons, it started to get a little easier.  Each one had its own challenges, but all in all, I think knowing what to expect made it easier to enjoy the race.

The Humber Bridge Half
30th June 2013

I ran this one without Sue as it was either a short time before or after one of her Triathlons. I noticed that I still felt compelled to take spare safety pins for the race numbers.  Being a bit of a 'prepared for anything' type, I'd got into the habit of taking spare pins in case Sue forgot hers and on this day, I realised that it had become a bit of a ritual!

This half marathon is described as a hilly and challenging race, and they are not kidding.  It was an extremely hot day- brilliant for spectators and supporters, but making the hills even more challenging.  I had been advised that it's pretty easy until mile 8, when we hit a stretch in Barton called Gravel Pit Lane but AKA Cardiac Hill. It is a long drag, fairly steep and as I started up it, I immediately noticed the number of people walking.  Earlier in the year, this would have disheartened me and I'd have thought, "If they can't run it, I can't." But instead, I was thinking, "just keep gently bouncing" and I ended up passing so many walkers through just pressing on.  From the bottom, I could see what I thought was the top, and this kept me going as I got nearer and nearer to it.  However, when I reached "the top", it wasn't the top at all, it was just a left hand bend and then continued uphill for about half the distance again.  This was a little perturbing because I didn't know how much I had left, but I just kept going, encouraged by passing people who were walking.

It was at the top of that hill that I started to realise that I had belly ache and was starting to need the loo. Of course once I noticed my stomach churning, it was hard to take my mind off it.  I used a lot of distraction techniques for the last 3 miles, I can tell you!  Concentrating on the music, focusing on my breathing. Picking points a hundred metres ahead and counting the steps I took to that point!

It was so awful that I didn't notice until the finish that I had no knee or hip pain this time!  Chris and Vicky are always at the finish and the picture on the left is one they caught before I saw them.  I remember the moment exactly as I was thinking, "Oooh, my hip doesn't hurt!  Awsome."

I managed a very short sprint finish, which Vicky did a great job of catching on camera (see below) - partly motivated by the usual excitement at seeing the finish line and partly by the no urgent need to find a loo.  

Runners brain was also in evidence the worst I've ever had it.  Perhaps it was the heat or the discomfort in my belly, but I just couldn't think where I needed to be after the finish line.  Luckily Chris and Vicky know what I'm like at the end of a race, and they came to find me.  Amazingly, I had managed to send a text at the one mile to go point (I always save a draft text so I just have to press one button), so they know I was making a really good time; I had no idea at that point, but I knew by their faces and I couldn't believe it when Chris was saying it was about 2 hours 10 minute.   I just managed five dazed words: "Take me to the toilet!"

No further detail is required.  Suffice to say that since then I am very careful to get up early enough to let my breakfast settle and if I'm getting excited butterflies, a strategic prophylactic Imodium is a prudent addition to the race morning routine!

I was delighted with my time and felt an enormous sense of achievement for managing that dreadful hill, as well as a little sprint finish.

I really like the finishers T-shirt.  Being white cotton, it's not the usual running T-shirt, but I'm wearing it as I type this - it's a great pyjama top.

This year's Humber Bridge Half, will be run on Sunday 29th June 2014.

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