30 May 2011

Plymouth Half Marathon!

Don’t think a half marathon is a social event. Not the Plymouth one, anyway. I had naively assumed you just line up with the runners, and then team up with the people you know, run up with them for as long as that works, and then you run some more and it hurts and you finish. But it doesn’t go like that!

Neil knew, and had come up with a time and place to meet, which meant I found him. Among the throngs at the start I saw no sign of Pete and Richard and whoever else would be running it. People as far as the eye could see! So many that only six minutes after the start signal sounded we could actually start running. A few tens of meters after the actual start Neil vanished out of sight.

Try to find anyone in such masses!

Ready to rock...

Some people thought just running 21 km wasn't tough enough! Nutters... but very admirable. Notice the beautiful Plymouth architecture, by the way.

I thought the field would thin out, but it didn’t! All the way to the finish you had to slalom around the other runners. It’s mad. But the atmosphere was good!

I kept an easy pace: when running the full distance with Neil around Burrator Reservoir I hit the wall at some point, and I didn’t want it again. So I paced myself. That way I had a very comfortable run. Lost in music, taking it easy, enjoying all the hoo-ha going on.

When we reached the top of the hill at Saltram Park I knew the worst was over. So I picked up some speed! I could do that now, without running myself empty, I presumed. So the second half of the race I was almost constantly overtaking people. And time flew by!

Already at the first few meters I noticed my ankle hurt; a souvenir from my unfortunate bike-somersaulting antics of Thursday. I had a bruise the size of my hand on my thigh, and swollen grazed bits too, but that I couldn’t feel; the inconspicuously green ankle, though, gave me some grief. Oh well; I owe it all to myself, so I’d better just suffer the consequences. But when the race ended up in Cattedown (I guess at about ¾ of the race) it started to hurt bad.

This one didn't pose any problem! Only looks spectacular. By the time I'm blogging this it has turned less purple and more green.

Such a subtle bruise! But man did it hurt. It still does...

I was hurting, but I also knew I was getting close, and I still had plenty of energy, so I speeded up anyway. And quite soon I was glad to overtake one of the runners that indicated an expected finishing time of two hours. I wanted to manage within that time! So that was good. I also overtook Richard; the only runner I knew I would actually spot.

In town, really close to the finish, I overtook the other two hour mark person. I was going to make it! I knew they had started way before me, so had probably been running for a few minutes more than me.

Near the finish I suddenly saw Steffie, our student, jump up and scream and wave. A supporter! I was really glad.

When I came within sight of the finish I saw it tick to 2:00 fast. So I ran for it. And came in at 1:59:17. Not bad. My first race ever! And I still felt fine.

By the time I thought of taking a picture from the desirable side of the finish it was still within 2 hours!
I accepted all the stuff they give you at the end (the medal, a T-shirt, and some food) and went to look for Neil. He’d been running in black, but put on the white race shirt, so I spotted him somewhat late. He’d been in for 9 minutes already!

I got my bag back and we went home. And had our official finishing times (from starting point to finish, not from starting time to finish) sent to us in a text message before we were even there! My time had been 1:53. Mad! Neil’s was 1:44. That’s fast! And phoning Pete I found out why I hadn’t seen him at all: he’d been faster than the wind, and had even finished before Neil. What a man! Next year there may be a whole line of blood-thirsty geographers lining up with the sole aim of running faster than good old Pete. Sounds like fun! I’m up for more, anyway...

No comments: