Sunday, 29 April 2012

The Stratford half marathon or The Stratford big swin??

I thought I would write a blog about my run today -

A couple of months ago I signed up to run the Stratford half marathon which took place today around the countryside after a lap of historic Stratford. Id taken part in this run last year and decided to run it again as I like the course which starts in the middle of Stratford, heads out into the countryside before returning to Stratford to finish opposite the RSC. This morning we awoke to grey skies and the sound of rain! Thinking back to other events I have run, I can think of only 2 events where is has been raining and I seem to recall I didnt enjoy either of them despite me always saying "always more oxygen in the air when its raining"!!

Also on the same day is a full marathon which is the half marathon course twice and is well orgnised by the rotary club of Stratford. Once we got to the main street where the run was due to start, the organisers had decided to cancel the full marathon event and everyone would be running the half due to a section of the course which was underwater on the marathon route. At 9:30am, the 3-2-1 countdown started and we were off. This is where my fun started, having decided to run in my coat and gloves (picked up at the last minute) I reached for the garmin on my left arm and pressed the start button (or so I thought). I then placed my long sleeved tshirt over and my coat and concentrated on running. The 1st mile seemed to go very quickly, down the main street past the milkshake shop (amazing) and a chap reading out Shakespeare quotes and then back over the start line and out into the country. I thought to myself whilst between 1-2 miles that I would not check the time / speed on the garmin until "at least" 6 miles and I just hoped that I was feeling ok at this point. The run went on and on in rain, rain, rain and strong winds. I heard someone discussing with their running parter that they would duck in behind people in the windy sections to be sheltered!! At 6 miles, I took stock of where I was but decided to press on without looking at my watch and also not to stop and queue for the on course toilets which were near the water stops.

All was going well at 7 miles and I felt good, however for a change I didnt reach for the garmin to check the time. I think by this stage my gloves were too wet and my hands were too cold to move my coat! Onwards to 8 miles, 9 miles, I was ticking them off in my head. At this point in the run I was joined by a group of 3 or 4 runners (in coats and hats) and I thought it might help me if I latched onto their group as they seemed to be going at a pace I thought I could handle at this stage of the run!

Around 10 miles or 1 parkrun to go, we reached the point of the course I had been dreading, a 2+ mile stretch along "the greenaway" which is a grit surface. Because of the constant rain, this had been turned into patches of grit but mostly puddles!! For the 1st section I decided to stay out of the puddles because I thought getting wet (even wetter) feet would hinder me and make my trainers heavy! Then it happened, a narrow section and a big puddle came up so I ran through it, splash, splash - great fun and for a funny reason I felt much better and it helped me! 11 miles came and I thought about looking at the watch, checking the pace / time again but resisted! 12 miles and the last water station, I was shocked to see volunteers out in the rain, still clapping and smiling as we went past. I managed a smile I think through my gritted teeth, 1 (ish) mile to go. I was determined that I was going to get to the end! A few minutes later and we ducked under a road bridge and ran along the path next to the river, running through the puddles. At this point I could see the end and the finish banner, teeth were gritted and I was going to make it, totally soaked! Gloves were removed and shoved in my pocket and it was onto the grass section which by now was more of a mud section, past the PA booth and under the finishing banner, I had made it! (pressing the stop button on the garmin (or so I thought))

(me (in the blue coat) nearing the finish line, gloves off, teeth gritted)

I was elated, the further I had ever run in 1 go and I had run the complete half marathon. The electronic clock said 2 hours 35 minutes, I thought I would check my watch for the time before I got the official time when published, to my horror, I hadnt pressed "Start" at the begining when I thought I had!! So Ive got no idea what my time was!! I was so glad that earlier on I hadnt looked at it to check my time!! This was my 13th half marathon and 3rd of year and was without doubt the hardest run I have done, my time was not a PB but I was so happy to run all of the event, a truly wonderful experience and im so glad I have finally done it! Huge respect to everyone who came out to support the runners, the runners themselves for turning up in those conditions, the volunteers at the water stations who looked frozen and the marshalls standing in the road for hours directing the runners on the right path with a cheer wave as we went past.

Amazing experience, although shame about the weather!

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