Yesterday saw me complete the Bath Half marathon. It was actually my first ever half marathon, and I had such a good time I thought a quick blogpost was in order.
The idea for the run itself came about for two reasons: the first was an email that popped into my inbox suggesting Oscar (my 3-year-old) could do the fun run part of the day on behalf of I CAN, the children’s communications charity. I figured that if Oscar could do the fun run, I might as well do the full run.
The second reason is that I’m a 32-year-old man who had let himself go a bit over the last few years. I realised there was still time to recover some form of health without having done too much damage, and thought a half marathon would be as good an achievement to focus on as any.
From an inauspicious start (think “wheezy two miles with more than the occasional walk / stop”) training had gone well. It included over 30 miles whilst on holiday in Spain a couple of weeks ago (memorable moment: my father-in-law offered me some water after I’d run uphill for the first 4 miles of a 10.5-mile training run behind him on a bike, to which I ungraciously suggested: “I don’t need some water, I need a f*cking flat road”. It was hot, in my defence.) and both my legs and lungs were going to be fine for the Bath Half itself.
I was hopeful of a sub-2 hour time. The slight competition of some friends also running – Phil C, Kev CW and Kev H – also meant I was keen to do as well as possible.
Unfortunately, I felt a tickle in my throat last Wednesday which developed into a stinking cold by race day. Though I took 4 cold tablets in the hour or so before the race, which I don’t think count as performance enhancing drugs, the cold took its toll. After 2 miles I noticed my breathing, which didn’t normally happen until around 7 miles, and at 8 miles (on the second lap of the Bath course) there was an incline that hurt much more than it should. At that point, I knew it was just going to be about getting round rather than the time.
And get round I did. 2.14:53 is well down on what I was hoping for, but I’ll take it given the circumstances. (I’ve said this to a few people since the race, but I don’t really believe it: I’m a competitive soul and I’m actually a bit annoyed with the time. Still, there will be the sub-2 hour mark to aim for next time.) Each of the folks above ran amazing times: Phil C clocked a brilliant 1.59, Kev H did a 2.04 and Kev CW ran a stupendous 1.53 – what a run!
By far the hardest miles of the day for me were the last 2. It was at this point that the wind decided to play its part, and the last bit of the course is slightly uphill anyway.
Cheesy as it sounds, it’s at this point that some motivation came from seeing all of the people around who were running because of various personal or family experiences. There was also the motivation from all the support and sponsorship that people had given over the last few weeks. And there was also the motivation about the charity I was running for, I CAN, and the work it does. I don’t think this translated into me shouting “THINK OF THE CHILDREN” to myself over those last 2 miles, though if it did I apologise to any nearby spectators.
On which, by the way, what an amazing crowd! The people out supporting runners were amazing: every banner, clap and cheer of encouragement was appreciated. The race was also incredibly well organised, and huge thanks must go to the organisers and volunteers for doing such a great job.
Overall, the race was a great experience, which made me feel even happier to now be living in Bath. I’m looking forward to the Bristol Half in September (assuming I stop hobbling in the next few weeks, that is) and will definitely be breaking the two-hour barrier there.