So, I made it. And not only did I make it, I made it in under two hours. Wahoo! I really wasn’t expecting to be able to do a sub 2 hour time after my shoddy training efforts, but I found a good pace from early in the race and kept it up almost to the end. Total race time something in the region of 1hr 56mins. I’ll know my exact time this evening, as long as my chip timer worked.
With the clocks going forward to BST last night, Shirls and I really could have done with a little more sleep. We probably had about 6 and a half hours, but given that this was my first half marathon in about 15 years, I was nervous enough that I didn’t drop of to sleep as readily as I normally do.
This morning we made it into town in good time to catch the shuttle bus up from Reading Station. Everything was pretty well organised, although it took a little longer than planned for the race organisers to get started, as everyone wanted to take off their warm gear at the last minute at the left luggage tents, due to the cold start we had this morning.
Once down near the starting line, the nervous energy of the runners was palpable. I didn’t have much time to worry about that though, as I only had about 5 minutes to do my warm up. It took quite a while to get to the start due to sheer number of people racing, but after the race had been going about 6 minutes, I crossed the start and began my 13.1 miles.
The next thing I noticed was the way it can be quite difficult to keep to your pace! There are so many people around you that to stick at a given speed can be quite a challenge, as you get hemmed in by the runners around you. After about 4 miles though the field had dispersed sufficiently for me to be able to set my own pace.
At about 8 miles I met a friend from church, Andy Noonan, who was setting himself a target of 1hr 50. I seemed to be going at around the same stride, so he was my pace maker for the next 3 miles. After that I knew that the sub 2hr finish was within my grasp, and I just put my head down and went for it. Another friend, Amo, was encouraging us along the last mile or so with some amazing drumming on the sidelines.
The final hill up to the stadium surrounding the hallowed finish line, almost finished me off. As I looked at my watch I knew I had about five minutes to go, but I wasn’t 100% sure of my start time, or precisely how far the finish line was. I gritted my teeth and gave the last few yards everything I could muster, and as I crossed the finish line I have to admit I was feeling more than a little dizzy!
I crossed the finish line as the race time read 2hs 2mins. Given the 6 minutes or so it took me to cross the starting line with my ‘chip’ that registers my personal time over the distance, I’m pretty sure that I made the 2hr cut…