Monday, 20 June 2011

2 hours 8 minutes 20 seconds

So, not only not under 2 hours, but I didn’t even beat my previous best half-marathon time. This is why I don’t set goals.

Today I’m feeling a bit of a failure, though I am trying to look on the bright side. I think that the training certainly helped on the endurance front (I didn't get my usual 11 mile anger) and my body actually feels pretty good today (when I'm usually aching like a b*stard post-race). And I suppose it’s not terrible, considering my recent dearth of mileage and sore tendons. But, ultimately, I failed. And I failed because I did not run fast enough.

I would like to blame the hilly course. And when I say hills, I mean hill. But it was a very large one and I had to go up and down it four times. I thought the course was flat. That came as a huge shock. I then spent a lot of time ensuring I conserved enough energy for the imminent ascent. I think that maybe I spent too much time conserving and not enough time... well, serving, I suppose. I don't know.

All that aside, I did really enjoy the run (probably because I was going so slowly). Torbay provides a beautiful backdrop for a half-marathon and cantering along the coast in the dewy morning sunshine was inspiring. I can also recommend Tor Abbey (recently restored), the Princess Theatre (Calendar Girls. Back for the very last time) and the London Fryer (tasty looking chip shop). But the best views were reserved for the top of that bloody hill. Views that I very much enjoyed on visit number one. By visit number four, the novelty had worn off and I had bigger fish to fry. Though not, unfortunately, at the London Fryer.

There were a couple of occasions when I did think about speeding up. One of which involved the tantalising prospect of overtaking my brother’s friend. He kept bobbing up in the distance and I felt that with a good burst of speed on my part I could ‘take him’. However, my feeble competitive instinct was quashed by the vision of me lying prostrate on the ground; the inevitable result of any ‘burst’. There's no glory in road kill.

To be fair to said friend, I probably wouldn’t have caught him anyway. I believe it was his first half-marathon and he came in a good three or four minutes faster than me. My brother also did really well, passing the post at 1.34.05, though he was gutted to narrowly miss the 33 minute mark. Which just shows how all success (and failure) is relative. No pun intended.

All in all, I would highly recommend the Torbay half. Irrespective of my disappointment re time, it was a really well organised, fantastically located race. And my lungs felt like they'd had a good jet wash by the end. Speaking of which, I was rather pleased with my sprint finish. It was nice to show my family that despite being the slowest member of the pack, I could still cross the line in style. Fortunately, they didn't witness the small collapse, seconds later, next to the military boy who was removing the timing chips. But once I'd gathered my thoughts and blood had returned to the cerebral part of my body, I was ready to collect the spoils of war in the form of the 'goody bag'. This was instantly collared by my niece and nephew. They grabbed the bag, devoured the free gummi bears and led me over to a market stall selling wool, where we spent a good 3 minutes before I came to my senses and insisted my wellbeing and need for rest came before their need to purchase knitting needles. No matter how cheap they were.

And so a rather surreal end to an inauspicious day. On the plus side, the challenge continues. And I'm looking out for my next half. Preferably one in Holland.

(Stats: 13.1 miles; 2.08.05; 9.46 minute/mile; one very very very very very very big hill.)

(Pic: Victory t-shirt and medal. It's all about the medal.)

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