Sunday, 22 August 2021

The Vitality Big Half

I'm supposed to be following a training plan for the Boston marathon.  Last Sunday I was supposed to run 15 miles, I got to 5miles and had a 'phone call that meant I needed to go home meaning that I only ran 10 miles.  To make up for this I went out and ran 15 miles on Monday.  I then carried on 'as per the plan' until yesterday when I arrived at Stratford Upon Avon parkrun with every intention of taking it easy...until it started raining and I just wanted to get it done so I could go somewhere warm and dry.  

Today the plan called for a 10k race.  Brilliant. Nice and easy.  Until I realised I was signed up for the Vitality Big Half.  Race communications were a little hit and miss, but Husbando and I were both signed up, so really we had no choice but to turn up and run.  The timings looked a little tight - we were given a 10 minute window to arrive and check our bags, a similar time to enter our start pen but we needn't have worried.  The start area was on the chaotic side of casual, we were in wave B, went to the start at the time we had been told, and ended up setting off with the A wave!  

We started on Tower Hill, running out towards Canary Wharf, and through a very long underpass.  I loved the fact that all the mile markers (apart from one) had the elapsed time on them.  It meant that I could keep a rough eye on pace despite the disparity between the distance my Garmin thought we had run and how far we had actually run.  There was a long underpass just after mile one.  It was really long, but it was still a surprise to see a 2 mile marker (no time clock on this one) just 6 minutes after I had passed the 1 mile marker!  At the pace I was running (and according to Garmin) we were only at 1.75miles!  

Something very odd happened with my Garmin in Canary Wharf.  I appear to have run a very convoluted route and done a little swimming!  I managed to add a fictitious 3/4 of a mile to the route somehow - and all before we got to the 5 mile point.  Just before the 5 mile point one of the marshals shouted  'You are halfway there!  Keep going!'  I wanted to strangle that marshal.  I was not having a fun time. I had never enjoyed a race less (too many miles in the few days before, not enough sleep and poor diet were taking their toll) - I felt so awful that I convinced myself that I had covid(*) - and I was very aware that we were no where near bloody half way!  

Husbando was still running with me.  I told him that I was going to get to 10k and then walk the rest.  We ploughed on.  There were cobbles.  Quite a lot of cobbles.  I was looking forward to my walk at this point!  As soon as we passed the 10k marker I said goodbye to Husbando and started walking.  I ate a mini malt loaf, drank some water and then realised that walking 12k would take far too long.  I decided to run/walk the rest of the way and adopted a 9min run/1min walk strategy.  Luckily there weren't too many spectators to tell me to run!  My overall pace didn't drop too much and I pootled along to the finish.  

It was not the most interesting of routes.  The marshals, with the one exception noted above, were wonderful, very friendly and supportive, but there were very few supporters on the course and none of the atmosphere that was a key feature of the London Landmarks Half a few weeks ago.  As we approached the finish this did improve - with the last 600m having lots of supporters, but all in all I was just relieved to have finished.  

I caught a quick glimpse of the Cutty Sark as I crossed the finish line, collected my medal (I do like it when a medal matches the colour scheme I am wearing!) and followed the trail of runners to the baggage collection in the grounds of the Royal Naval College.  This was the best bit of the race!  Despite having been born in QE Military Hospital and having run a couple of 10ks in Greenwich Park (very hilly -  the views from the top are stunning!) I haven't spent much time in Greenwich.  The College is stunning.  

Bag collection was a dream.  I'd been a bit worried as all our bags were thrown onto vans on Tower Hill that it would be a bun fight - but the baggage crew had sorted them all beautifully!  I suspect that this was a task that went on and on, as people were still making their way to the start line I was at about 8miles in to the race.  

Husbando texted me to tell me where he was so we could meet up.  There's always one person who has to lower the tone, and if it isn't me it will be him!  As we made our way back into London I discovered that a group of my friends had been running the race today - one of them got a PB - wish I had been better organised as we could have met up for a drink afterwards!

I am going to put my feet up for a few hours now and resume the training plan on Tuesday!  I have another half marathon at beginning of next month - so long as we can get to France and back.  Hopefully I will remember to take it easy at parkrun the day before - but who knows?  

* I do not have Covid!  One of the many joys of being a teacher is having ready access far more LFTs than anyone could ever need.

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