Sunday, 24 May 2009
WOKINGHAM HALF MARATHON SUNDAY 24TH MAY 2009
So today was a big test for me my first race since the marathon.
I have been training, running at least 4 times a week from a week after the marathon, the first week I was down and out with a cold, but as soon as I felt strong enough I was out of the house like a shot hitting the streets again.
I managed an 8 miler last Sunday so I felt confident that I had 13 miles in my legs, I had been eating well, meaning pasta and drinking lots of water for the last few days I knew it was going to be hot and I did not want dehydration to be a problem.
Found it hard to sleep, nerves were getting the better of me, and I then went on to dream or should I say have a nightmare, that I forgot all my race gear, my garmin (my watch which lets me know how fast I am going and how far I have gone, it really helps me to set my pace) my gel’s, my jelly babies the whole lot, basically I was not ready and the race was horrific!
When I woke up I thought the race was over, luckily it wasn’t and I had a chance to put it right. I made sure I packed everything that I need, Garmin, Carb gel, Jelly babies, tissue, Vaseline and anything else I could shove into my small bum bag, which I put around my waist. 13 miles is a long way you don’t know what you might need. (No not fashionable would not wear it on the street, but for running it’s fine).
The start of the day was 15 degrees so as soon as I stepped out of the house I knew it was going to be a hot one, and it was said to get even hotter. Obviously running in Trinidad and Grenada has prepared me well for running in heat, but each day is different and 13 miles as I keep saying is a long way. I decided to wear shorts, no not short short’s they come down to my knees, and a racing singlet I knew was great in the heat from having worn it in the Caribbean, Sunglasses, cap and made sure my feet and in-between my thighs were well greased with Vaseline to avoid chaffing, put on my kineseo tape and went about my business.
Rob (the other half, drove us to Wokingham and from his place it only took about 45 minutes,) we found somewhere to park and then headed off. First thing I needed to do was find a toilet, my stomach didn’t feel great, nerves always get the better of me so a trip to the toilet before I race is always a must. I took some Immodine afterwards to ensure my stomach did not play up on the way around.
You never know how your going to feel until you take your first step, and with the heat and the fact I did not know if the marathon was still in my leg’s I headed to the back of the crowd thinking caution was best.
Well in my world it was not really a race, its just Kat against the world, I leave the racing to the Gazelles and Cheetah’s at the front of the pack. Bottle of Lucozade in my hand, a quick chat with a few girls around me, wishes of good luck the horn went and that was it I was off.
All good, it had started to heat up but I was coping the field started off fast, well it was fast in my eyes, I was planning to start at an 11 minute mile then build up but I got swept along going a bit faster and since I felt fine I kept going, talked to an older white couple for a while who were both very sweet, felt strong so moved on up. I now have no fear of running by myself in fact in race conditions I prefer it, there is no pressure to keep up with anyone or slow down for anyone or worry about anyone else, I just concentrate solely on me.
Had a chat to a girl who was doing a walk, run strategy, guessed that was what she was doing, as one minute she was running past me and the next she would be walking, then I would be running past her. I have never tried that strategy myself but if I felt I needed to I would. We both just wanted to make sure that we did not get picked up by the sweeper van, which would be plucking people from the course if they did not reach 6 miles in 1 hour 15, or ten miles in 2 hours, pressure man pressure!!
The funny thing is I had booked this half to run before the London Marathon as part of my training regime, but due to the bad weather it was cancelled then rescheduled for today, not sure what I would’ve prefer snow or sunshine.
I have a stitch as always but I ignore it, breathe it out, berate it and demand that it behaves.
I’m surprising myself, I’m feeling good, started so far back I am now passing people, who either started earlier than me or who are slowing down, my pace is not too bad, I am trying hard to keep it between 10:30 and an 11 minute mile, determined to save something for the end, I want to finish nice and strong.
The sun is beating down, and the water they are handing out is in cups, I stop only for a minute to fill up my lucozade bottle with water, it is way to hot not to run and sip water constantly I try not to guzzle too much or my stomach will start gushing and make for uncomfortable running. I have eaten a few jelly babies already and taken one gel, my energy levels are fine, I just need to keep focused, I am still passing people.
I am waiting for doom to befall me, sure my achilles will play up or the knees will start to ache, or my groin to throb. I am waiting to twist an ankle or be struck down with heat stroke, but so far it has not happened. The marshal's are very encouraging and although there are long stretches without people and only fields of yellow rapeseed for company, when supporters do appear they are very enthusiastic.
Quick chat with a girl who is running her first half, she is sweating profusely, her hair is stuck to her face and her cheeks are red, these are the moment when I bless the Lord for dark skin, I too am hot I just do not look it.
I give Rob a quick call I am running faster than we anticipated, I yell at him that I am at mile 9, he asks how I am doing, I say fine, got to go. A man running next to me says he is impressed that I have energy to run and talk on the phone at the same time. I reply that I am a women I always have energy to talk regardless of what I am doing and run past him.
I am still passing people moving strongly thorough the crowd as others falter I keep running, keep moving on up, there are long slow inclines which hurt in the sun but I keep going, determined to push myself, but also weary of the impending disaster which I am sure will befall me.
I pass a couple who have t-shirts on stating they are running to raise money for a charity, I later find out the man was running even though he is dying of terminal lung cancer, I am humbled.
Mile 11 turns out to be my hardest after almost 2 hours in the heat I am starting to flag and it takes me 11 minutes 9 seconds, my slowest mile yet then on the horizon I see an Angel a women in her driveway holding a hose, spraying a lusciously cool waterfall, I stand in front of her and let her spray me all over, savouring the instant cool down, I thank her profusely and move on, now it is time to dig deep, I pull out my IPOD, time for the ragga, I need something to make my feet move quicker.
Music on, skin cooled, I keep moving, keep passing people, my stitch has gone now, not sure when it went but it is no longer bothering me, so my pace picks up further, I know I am not far from the finish line I know I can run two miles, two miles is easy, two miles is nothing, I could piss two miles I tell myself, as my body tries hard to carry me just a bit further, we have doubled backed on ourselves, so I know I am heading back to the finish, I smile and give encouragement to other runners, but still I move forward aware that if nothing goes wrong and if my pace stays like this I will run the fastest Half marathon I have ever run.
Half a mile to go I see Rob, long basketball arms stretched upwards at 6ft 2 he is always easy to spot, he takes a picture, we high 5 and I move on, no time to stop, I got a half marathon to finish, half a mile, half a mile, half a mile is a damn long way.
I keep on. A girl is crying holding her side, a man who is with her encourages her on, these are the people I respect those who have to dig deep, who have to find that extra something to pull through but they keep me going.
Today I do not struggle as I have done in the past, the training for the London Marathon has toughened me up, I am no longer that girl who started training last September, I have experience to pull on, 8 months of running, training, crying frustration, and determination that makes me know without a doubt that I will make it to the end, nothing bad has happened, luck is on my side, I pick up the pace eager to finish in style.
There it is the end, a blue arch, my medal awaits, I cross the line, Rob is on the left, congratulating me,I was not expecting to see him, but he managed to cut across a field Meet me at the finIsh, I almost run straight past him. Finally I can stop, finally my legs can relax, finally I can stop running in this heat. I put on my medal and Rob treats me to an ice-cream with a flake an strawberry sauce, I am instantly my 5 year old self again, having just been bought an ice-cream by my mum, I am happy.
2 hours 15 minutes 13 seconds and I am done, all limbs intact, no injuries, and a personal best time, beating my last half marathon time back in March by 13 minutes.
Today was a great day for running.