Last year’s BHM was quite traumatic as Debs lost her Mum to a stroke just 2 weeks before and, understandably, had to withdraw. This year she was back on a mission, running in memory of Judy and raising over £700 for the small stroke charity www.fightingstrokes.org This was started by Kate Allatt following on from her book Running Free: Breaking Out from Locked-in Syndrome. Debs will shortly blog about her day here, and, having been ill for a few weeks, with her training was limited to about 6-8 miles a/WEEK over the past weeks even starting was a source of great pride.
We all know that folks have lots of pre-event rituals and I’ve adopted many, such as:
• Making sure I get a seat on the daily commute to London – FAIL, on 3 days out of 4!
• Not drinking alcohol in the week before – managed that
• Lots of rolling and stretching – FAIL, did plenty but not enough and my constant niggly “knot” in my left hamstring just wouldn’t budge
• Having an “easy day” the day before – FAIL, but for a good reason as I did a Basingstoke, High Wycombe, Birmingham to Bristol loop taking my daughter off to Brum UNI to study History.
Race-eve became a shopping trip as Debs forgot her running shoes...kind of important for a half-marathon but luckily we found a good shop and she left armed with some new treads that had a hour or two of walking to break them.
Back to race prep. I hadn’t felt good all week with some sort of random bug and temperature, with legs like concrete, so not at my most confident. However, a couple of miles round Queen Square and lots of stretching seemed to improve things.
Race day dawned very sunny but, thankfully, without the horrid humidity of the days before. Race Village was only 5 mins walk away which makes a change. Debs was pretty emotional already as she headed off to the other start pens, and it was great to bump into runners from Hatch Warren Runners, another local running club, and Ian from our club about to take on his first HM. Blue pen for me, second back, and eeeeeek! Lots of talk of race paces a bit over 7 mins miles. Rats! My gameplan was around 8s with “plan A” being to spot the 1:45 pacemaker and hang on. Biiiiiig problem as soon as we started – the pacemakers were invisible, seemed to be just wearing an orange run shirt! No balloons, flags or whatever, so useless unless you happened to be next to them!
Pacing worked for first 3-4 miles but then slipped a little at a time as I leaked 10-20 secs a miles over mid race. Last year, for my 1:52, I drifted off in the last 3 miles so I needed to improve that. My 1:45 target was parked for another day so it became all about course PB and I was taking about 10 secs a mile out of that. So, good and positive, as was the great Bristolian support and welcome.
Locals were superb with great shouts. “...looking good moi luvver” or “...yer nearly there, darlin” or “...there be no hills in this areal” but I wasn’t so chuffed about “...keep going funny man!” until realising that was aimed at a Smurf running behind me! Over the miles I got bored of “c’mon Smurf!” so mile 8 saw a quick sprint to escape his sweaty, blue faced presence!
A lap of Queen Square fell at 9.5 miles and the place was brilliant, excellent support, hot air balloons and a mass drum group...really gave me a boost in spirits and pace. More on this later.
Just after the finish a girl came over and said “thanks for that” leaving me bemused. She explained “...you shot past me at the drum band in Queen Square and I thought that you were going OK so I sat in behind you all the way back” Didn’t know I’d become a pacemaker!
Overall, a great day for the Sherfield Park Runners. My course PB, Ian starting fast and hanging on to his maiden HM time of 2:07 and Debs digging really deep, on almost no training, to run all the way round to a 2:24. Fantastic! Already planning on running the Bristol HM again on 13th September 2015 and hope to bring more folks from the club.
*”Correct way to speak Bristol”