12 Down: The Race is One!

Race week had come around at last! I did a short run on Monday, bringing in the last tricky (ie hilly) section of the course.

On Tuesday, I started to worry – I hadn’t received my pack with my number and time chip, nor an email telling me where to collect it. My husband worried me even more by asking if I was sure I’d actually registered.  I flicked back through my emails, back to January, where this had been a New Year’s resolution.  The sign-up email said that pack collection details were on the website.  The website gave me the collecting times from the leisure centre.  A quick check of my watch confirmed that I could go and get it right now, so off I sped.  Notices on the way into the pack collecting room advised you to have your registration number handy.  I tried to bring up my emails again on my phone, but to no avail.  I asked the assistant if my name would be sufficient, as I couldn’t remember my registration number.  She easily found me on the list, and announced:

“You’re number one!”

I laughed, and joked that it would probably be the only time you’d see that number next to my name, but it did feel special pinning it onto my running vest.  I made sure I had everything ready for the race on Wednesday evening, fixed the time chip to my shoe-lace, and went to bed content that I had done all I could.

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Wednesday dawned sunny, and just got warmer and warmer as the day wore on.  I took my dogs to the agility-fun park in the afternoon, mainly to take my mind off the race, and I ate fairly carby things during the day – overnight oats with berries for breakfast, cheese and crackers for lunch, some nuts a couple of hours before the race.  And lots of water.

At about 6, we drove as close to the leisure centre as we could – there was also a 10k and a fun run being held, so parking was scarce.  I went inside to join the queues of final-pee-ers, and didn’t have too long to wait before lining up with the other 975 half-marathoners.  I positioned myself near the “2 hrs 15” corral, though having done a mere 12 miles in 2 hrs 18 last week, that was an ambitious placing.

A cheer went up, and off we went, all the time chips clicking as the runners’ feet crossed the mat.  I pressed START on Mapmyrun, screwed my earphones in place, adjusted my Oakleys against the sun, now lower in the sky, and told myself “Let’s run this mother”.  I’m so glad I’d run about 80% of the route during training runs – there’s nothing quite so reassuring as turning a corner and going – Oh I know this road, I know where the hills are, I know what’s round the corner….I can do this.  Running is mental, and the more confidence boosts you can add the better.

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By contrast, we got to the one bit of the route I was unfamiliar with, as it’s on a dual carriageway.  It doesn’t seem that steep when you’re driving it in the car, but it was a killer to run.  The “Mile 6” marker was half-way up it, and I slowed to a walk and fished out my energy-jelly, nibbling it as I marched to the top of the hill.

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It was really warm, but I was struggling to take on water at the stations.  I tried once, and then felt very uncomfortable, almost nauseous afterwards.  I’d never used water during training runs, and it’s maybe something I’m going to have to look into further.  By the time I got to about Mile 12, I was feeling a bit light-headed, due to the heat and the dehydration.  But I knew this last part well, onlookers were great at clapping and cheering, and the iron-on letters of my name which Clic Sargent had provided meant I was getting personalized shouts of support!  I was feeling a surge of emotion building up through me, and I consciously had to tell myself not to cry until I was over the line.

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As I turned into the finishing stretch, I could see the elapsed time just passing the 2 hours and 30 minutes mark, and for a moment I was disappointed that I hadn’t broken it.  Then I remembered my chip time would be a good 20 seconds off this – and indeed it was: 2 hours 29 minutes and 21 seconds!

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My legs were in agony, and the first bottle of water barely touched the sides.

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But I did it.  I run this mother.  Or rather, One runs this mother.  And I got a medal to prove it.

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