29 November 2015

Conwy Half Marathon

November is a nice month for racing, and the Great Orme must be beautiful. So when I saw the Conwy Half Marathon on Nov 22 advertised, a race that goes all around the great Orme, I registered. Several people had recommended this race to me! And I would even have company; Coleen, whith whom I had also ran the Anglesey Trail Half Marathon in January, would run too. So all good! Later the Cave Rescue Team would move a training exercise to that day, which was a bit of a pain as I wasn't keen on missing out on either event, but I chose to stick with the race. Not without some worries; it had been very busy recently, and shit weather, so I had only done my usual short runs recently. The day I shoudl have run further was so miserable I couldn't get myself to do it. And the only day I did was only a week before the race: too far! And I also hadn't slept very well the last nights. My-worst prepared half marathon ever! But well, it's only a half, so I would be OK.

When the day approached she mentioned some people whe knew would run too, and go for a meal and a pint afterwards. That sounded fun! So on the race day I was picked up from home, and brought to a pub owned by one of the other runners. This chap would drive us, and yet another runner, to Conwy. But he wasn't very punctual. Luckily the pub was warm and dry and had coffee.

We drove through the rain to Conwy, and struggled to park anywhere. When that was sorted I got restless. I had to dump my bag, and I wanted to go to the loo before the start. But we were late, and the organisation turned out to be flawed; they had bag storage, but they labeled every bag before putting it away. And they didn't have enough people by half! Nor did they have enough toilets! Walking through the start area was near impossible with the crowds and all the queues that snaked everywhere. It was a bit awful and I lost everybody. The race would start at 10AM; at 10:10 I was still in the queue for the toilets. I was feeling casual; I figued your time only started running once you crossed the start line, so well, starting a bit late would be fine. In the end I crossed the start at 10:15, together with many other people. It was a busy race!

Queueing up for the start, with a dramatic skyline

Ready to go!

We ran over the bridge into Llandudno, and soon entered a sandy coastal path. It's scenic and the sand is nice on your feet, but this early in the race the field hadn't spread out enough to make such a narrow path comfortable. You couldn't politely get past people most of the time!

On the sandpath

The the race got back onto the road, to cross over to the other side of the peninsula. There we finally got to see the limestone cliffs on the Great Orme. Very nice! And even the sun came out!

Along the eastern side of Great Orme

While running uphill I found Coleen back. Se wasn't enjoying the uphill bit. We stayed together for a while until she ushered me on. I proceeded to the top, and then started the nice and fast descent. The miles flew by! But maybe I went too fast; at the 9 mile marker I developed a stitch. I don't like them! I slowed down a bit and hoped it would go away. Luckily it did. At the 10 mile marker the worst was over and by 11 mile it was all gone. By that time I was tired, though! But that's fair I suppose. And by that time you start to get conscious of your result; I hadn't looked at my watch so didn't know quite how I was doing, but I knew I had passed the 2 hour pacers near the 10 mile mark, so I knew I was probably going to come in a few minutes within the 2 hour boundary. But when I'm closing in I become aware of the women near me, especially the ones that look like they're in my age category; every one you overtake is one position higher! I overtook all within reason, and when the finish loomed there were only men in sight in front of me. I accelerated a bit on the downhill bit to the finish, but not too much as I didn't fancy falling on my face in the last few metres. And I came in with a gun time of 1:57 so I knew my chip time would be 1:52. Not bad at all!

The mainland comes into view again

The castle, where the finish is!

I went to get my medal and race shirt, and considered getting my bag. I decided against; if I came back to the finish now I might see Coleen finish. I found a good spot but didn't see her. At some point I figured she must have finished while I was collectin gmy medal, and I had also got very cold, so I decided to go get the bag and proceed to the showers. I was glad I had an emergency blanket with me! The queue for the bags was as awful as expected. When I had the bag I also had my phone, so I found a text from Coleen, saying she indeed was on her way to the showers by now. I limped there too. I was properly seized up now after getting so cold.

What's my time? 

The showers were a blessing! They warmed me up again. And Coleen turned out to be in the same row of cubicles. It was nice to see her again! I also drank some extra water; I had run on less than half a litre and that's not enough. I often run myself a headache.

After the shower we went to the pub where we would meet. The others were already drinking. Unfortunately, the pub didn't serve food. I wanted food! But the others were more keen on alcohol. Not good! I managed to put pressure on the company, bt only enough to get us food by about 4PM. I had finished at 12! What are these people thinking! They were nice, but I might not do something like this again, viz. joining people I don't know for a pint after a race, as I seem to be one of the few people in this world keen on satisfying basic needs. I need water and food after a race! And I am never keen on a piss-up, and especially so in circumstances like this.

The pub where we ended up

After I finally had had my shepherd's pie (yay!) I was keen to go home. There was a train at 17:33 I could get, but Coleen didn't want to take it. She volunteered for the 17:59 one. And I considered my options; the latter would probably get me home quicker, as her bloke would pick us up from the railway station. A bus would probably not be so convenient. So I stayed for a last half hour and then we were gone! It was nice to be brought to the door, but then I was knackered. I was in bed within a few hours. Note to self: do run races but don't go to the pub afterwards!

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