Nicky (my wife, have I mentioned how wonderfully amazing, inspiring and quite beautiful she is?) and I ran the Bideford Half Marathon today. We are both rather proud of how we performed, more of which later……
Talking of pride, I seem to be absolutely bursting with it today. My lovely step daughter, Alisa, and grandson, Callum, did their debut Torbay Parkrun yesterday. I had the absolute privilege to go around with them. It truly was a pleasure and an honour to be there. Alisa is working so hard at getting herself fit, into shape, and healthier whilst juggling her full and hectic family life. Hopefully her knee pain will be nothing sinister and this will be the first of many family Parkrun outings.
So, as you can imagine, we were already full of pride and family love before today’s adventure. We collected our friend, Naomi at 7.30am after our pre match porridge and headed north in the wild wind and rain. Arriving nice and early meant we had prime parking position right near the start.
And with a top view of the queue for the toilets!
It really was very windy (and not just in the portaloos), but the rain had thankfully blown away and we were lucky enough to dodge the heavy showers throughout the run too.
As we ambled to the race HQ for our normal warm up routine (coffee), Naomi informed us that she had brought a flask of tea. A flask of tea I tell you. Outrageous and quite frankly mind bogglingly organised. Nicky and I are terrible with this – we even took a flask to one race, and bagels and other picnic style items. Yet we still ended up purchasing from the race catering facilities before and after the event. So, unsurprisingly we, unlike Naomi, DIDN’T have a flask. We have accepted our failings in this area and quite deliberately set off for races without sustenance.
Saying that, since we’ve been ‘training’ (no, really) we were equipped with a post race protein shake, just like them there proper runners. AND, and, and a banana.
So, in the HQ (having tried the roomy portaloos) we treated ourselves to a lovely hot and cheap (50p, again, I kid you not) coffee and eyed up goodies for later. Pasties only a quid. Cakes to die, well run at least, for and a friendly smile with the service.
Nicky quite insisted that if I finished in a good time I should head straight here and bag us some of this top nosh as she, quite ridiculously, believed there may be supply issues due to the number of participants. There weren’t as it turned out, but I did end up with TWO scrummy pasties for myself, so it all worked in my favour…
Naomi went off for her warm up whilst Nicky and I had a jog around the riverside in Bideford and made our way to the start line.
There’s normally a footwear debate at the events we do, but this being all roads and footpaths, the choice was simple. We decided to wear some.
Previous episodes of this blog have pointed out that Nicky is not a fan of starting near the front of races, preferring to start at the back of the field and have the confidence boosting sensation of moving through the field rather than the demoralising feeling that people streaming past you. And today, this again was a very effective strategy for Nicky, as she overtook 350 of the 1100 runners and her final 3 miles faster than any of the previous 10. She looked so strong and powerful as she surged to the line to finish well inside her pre race target in the fantastic time of 2h03m55s.
Proud husband alert!
I took the more potentially catastrophic approach of getting fairly near the front of the field near the start to see whether I could mix it with the young (and not so young) speedy boys and girls.
On discovering I had forgotten my running watch I was initially horrified. How can I POSSIBLY pace my run without a device on my wrist, receiving signals from a ball of metal far, far out of sight up there in the sky, making thousands of calculations in real time to produce essential and urgent information, without which I simply couldn’t put one foot in front of the other.
Hang on though, I KNOW I will go off too fast, I KNOW the distance to go will seem impossible if I carry on at whatever pace, I KNOW I will slow down as this prophecy plays out for real. And, Kevin, just bloody run, see what happens.
And we were off. The first mile is a loop around the football club and back past the rowing club to take us to the road heading out of Bideford. Felt good at whatever pace it was so why worry. Lovely. “What time did we do that mile in, mate?” I couldn’t help but question. “6.22”!
The out section is on a (closed) road and mildly undulating and I stuck with the group of runners containing the time keeper (although I didn’t trouble him for further updates) and felt I was running hard but not pushing my heartbeats into a debt that I couldn’t repay later in the race. We did reel a few runners in during the first few miles and, very gradually, I could see I was catching Naomi.
Before the course turned off for the gloriously flat, or even gently downhill Tarka Trail, Naomi became part of the group we were running in. I was absolutely loving this great course, pockets of enthusiastic support and numerous friendly and encouraging marshals, combined with enjoying the rhythm of my own running meant the miles seemed to be flying by.
As the miles approached double figures I passed Naomi again who told me she was experiencing a bit of stitch and I offered sympathy (with the small amount of available breath at this effort level) and pushed on. The group had splintered by this point and I knew I hadn’t held on to the early pace. Miles 11 and 12 came quickly though and soon I was turning to head back over the bridge towards the finish on the riverside. At this turn I saw Naomi was still close behind.
Now, I’m not competitive…….
So, I emptied the tank as we passed the markers telling us there were 800m, 700m, 600m etc to go and summoned what passes for a sprint finish from my 50 year old pins.
1 hour, 27 minutes, 30 seconds the great big digital clock on the finish line showed.
I really am rather proud of that and chuffed to have ran so freely without the watch. I’m also pleased with that as progress towards my target of running a ‘good for age’ time at the North Dorset Village Marathon at the end of April.
We had our medals and tee shirts (although we nearly forgot to collect Nicky’s) and we availed ourselves of some ‘recovery’ food and coffee before heading to the car for a chatty and tired drive home.
The heavens opened driving home and we all agreed we had been blessed by the weather gods for the race.
A weekend to be self-indulgently proud of.
Previous blog posts include such topics as The Arc Of Attrition, Streaking, How tired Mo is, The Bodmin Half Marathon and a conversation starter about whether there is elitism in running at our level.