Today was my last half marathon from the foreseeable future, due to this IM i’ve entered I’ll not be doing the usual stint of early 2010 halves (Suzie told me i’m not allowed as i’ll be mostly cycling round the country at weekends or somink!) so i’ll probably cycle to them and watch you folks instead.
After a pretty decent start to the year and getting my times down to a respectable level, i’d really wanted to get near to 90 mins for my half, but due to taking up triathlons my focus had moved from running specific training to x training. So my times have dropped significantly, it hasn’t helped that i’ve got a bit lardy, went on a couple of holidays, and took too long off before cricklade and got pissed before last weeks race!! (listen to all my shit excuses for being substandard!)
I had decided to run either today or next week at stroud, but i decided to go for today in Salisbury as the course profile was described on runners world as “Undulating” and i thought as I’ve not done much hill training recently (unless you count Swindon half which is notorious round these parts for its gradient!) and i’ve got a duathlon in a few weeks called the “Ball Buster” which is effectively an 8 mile hilly loop round box hill that you have to run up twice, and cycle up 3 times so thought a race with a couple of little hills would be good practice.
The last few months i’ve sort of lost my drive to get my elbows out and have just seemed to be content with completing without pushing myself to (and past) the brink of pukage, i think this is maybe cos when i started triathlonning i wasn’t expecting to do anything other than finish at best so have gotten used to that frame of thinking.
Just now i looked up the dictionary meaning of “Undulating” and here’s what I got...
"describing or having small hills and slopes that look like waves
•moving gently up and down
Anyhoooo.... i had decided if I felt ok after yesterdays mud wrestling with Suzie and Penny i’d go and run today, if not i’d do stroud, which is flat so not really what i was after. I woke up feeling like i had been hit by a bus, but after a bath, some cheapibix and coffee i was all good again.
So drove to Salisbury.... i got lost, and as i hadn’t entered i was thinking i’d miss out, i got there at 10:55 abandoned my car and ran to register, quick wee, and got to the start all of a fluster. The race was organised by the fire brigade so there were lots of hunky fire fighters around, as well as lanky runners I’d read some reviews of the race to see what i was up against and it sounded ok, a long hill at 5 miles was pretty much all i’d heard about....
Got off to a reasonable start, not particularly flat for the first couple of miles, about 2-3 miles was a long hilly climb and i thought “hang on this aint 5 miles” flattened out briefly then continued to climb, mile 4 ish was what id describe as Undulating as described above. A little before mile 5 it started to climb significantly. It went on for about 1200m i thought at some points i’d need crampons!! A guy next to me said that he’d read this bit on a review but he’d thought the first few miles were hilly enough. Lots of people were walking, but i see this as being defeated – and i wasn’t havin that! After dragging myself to the top of this hill (mountain i think i’m gonna call it!) was a totally brilliant 400m downhill bit. Most people were being really tentative going down so they didn’t tumble and roll down like a wheel of cheese at that glos cheese race thing but i threw myself down it as fast as i could to make back a bit of time, overtook a good chunk of people and managed to keep a bit of momentum at the bottom where shock horror – more hill.
From about 10k to 7 miles it was back to undulating and pretty comfortable and i thought that would be it for hills.... nope. Another short really sharp hill at about 7.5miles, and at 9 miles, it was rarely flat in any place for the rest of the course, long drags... i was convinced there’d be another massive down hill at some point – what goes up must come down right?
Well apparently not. The last mile seemed to go on forever, you had to go past the finish post that was just wanting you to cross it there and then, but you had to go round a massive loop that went on forever, then round a field then you thought you were going to go through the finish but it took you round another field and through the finish from the other side!
In my haste at the beginning i’d forgotten to start my watch but think i was in around 1hr 40 and maybe scraped top 10 birds. I’d love to have ended the halves of 2009 with a PB but it wasn’t meant to be.
Maybe next autumn i’ll have shed the chub and got back to my fighting fit weight and be able to throw out some super quick times but til then i’ll happily settle with todays time on the hilliest course i’ve ever run round.
p.s dictionary definition of “hilly” - hilly adjective /ˈhɪl.i/ adj having a lot of hills - I think i was mis-sold this event, but that said, it was great practice for the Ball buster and i might take my bike round it for a couple of loops next week