Woking Park this morning. I was glad that I had arrived early and had a few moments to watch him.
The journey into Woking was easy, the race village opened at 7am and the road closures didn't come into force until 8am. I parked easily, and followed the throng of lycra clad bodies to the venue. I knew I'd arrived early as there was no queue for the loos! The sun was shining and, while it was chilly, I decided that a vest top and shorts would suffice. Having arrived early, I had no I had no problems checking my bag at the baggage storage in the leisure centre. When I left the warmth of the leisure centre to make my way to the start the queues just to get in were huge. I think many of them may have been late to the start.
I chatted briefly with a much faster parkrun friend before he battled his way to the front starting pen and then spent a few minutes chatting with people around me before we were off. As will all big races, it was crowded at the start, and a fair bit of weaving around people was required before I could get into a rhythm. It may be different if you are one of the very fast runners at the front - but, as a middle of the road runner it is always a bit of a bun fight! It was somewhat disconcerting to run towards the start and encounter photographers with tripods facing towards one - I wonder how many surprised faces will have been photographed? There were also several traffic islands that were not well marked - it is really hard to see a kerb at ground level when running in a big group!
There was plenty of banter between runners, and there were lots of supporters dotted around the course to cheer the runners on. On a switchback, at about 4 miles, I heard those words that every teacher dreads - especially when wearing lycra shorts - 'Hello Miss!' I needn't have panicked too much - it was a colleague not a student who stormed past me and is probably blaming a brief conversation with me for missing out on a sub 1.40 time by 9 seconds!
I was running fairly well until about half way. I'd forgotten to strap my foot up and it was beginning to throb gently. I eased off the pace. This was, after all, supposed to be an expensive training run with a medal at the end! I decided to run the rest of the race at, what I hope will be, my marathon pace. 9min/mile. I didn't quite manage to slow down that much, but, poorly foot aside, I felt fairly comfortable. The route was not hilly, but there were long gentle inclines to contend with. The miles ticked by - rather quickly, the markers seemed to be placed just before my Garmin registered each mile.
And soon we were back to where we had started! Running to the finish I heard my name being called out by a friend. That gave me the spur I needed to think 'sod these well disguised speed bumps' and put on a final spurt of speed to get over the line. While not a PB (by 4 mins) I am aware that I would have been beyond thrilled with this time last spring, and it is my third consecutive sub 1.50 half marathon. Whether I can do better at Reading is another matter. If I don't manage it then there is always Hackney which I am running for UNICEF. (I'll be blogging about running for charity in the next few weeks - I just need to collect my thoughts!)
There was no goody bag as such - but that was no bad thing. We could collect food (mostly nutty stuff) and a drink after being given our medals. And goody bags tend to be filled with flyers for races that I either a) already know about and am signed up for or b) know about and don't want to run. I grabbed a sports massage from Guildford Sports Clinic before collecting my bag and heading home - getting home took me as long as running the half! All the roads I'd used to get there were still closed and the sat nav couldn't cope with me choosing which direction I thought looked hopeful!