Just a half

In order to complicate our departure from the UK as much as possible we headed over to the Forest of Dean this weekend to meet up with my mother-in-law’s family for their (almost) annual assault on the trails half marathon. Pre-race preparation wasn’t ideal with Emma screaming her head off for 90 minutes or so in the middle of the Saturday night (perhaps something to do with not getting fed in the night as of the last few days). This wasn’t conducive to getting up early for that vital pre-race breakfast. The conditions weren’t all that great either. It seemed not to have stopped raining for the proceeding 24 hours although it did finally let up about half way round the course.

It was fortunate that the start was delayed by fifteen minutes (I have no idea why) which did at least give me a chance to do a bit of a warm-up. Although when I last ran this event three years ago I finished fourth, I was well aware that my fitness has only gone downhill since then and started cautiously. The pace (around 6:22 for the first mile) felt comfortable although I was conscious that I was having to work at even the gradual incline as we left the road for the forest tracks. Things therefore slowed a bit when the real hills kicked in although none of the climbs were sufficiently long to give me any great problems.

Around the mid-way point I fell in step with another youngish runner and we helped push each other along. It was therefore a bit of a shock when, on a downhill stretch, I looked over my shoulder and he had disappeared completely. Presumably the pace had proved too much. Unfortunately it was also to prove too much for me and, after the drinks point around the nine mile mark, I started to wretch. I pressed on though, running the next couple of miles on auto-pilot. It was only when we approached the section that I had walked with Christine’s Mum the previous day that I started to recover a bit of form and, with a good downhill stretch, dropped to 5:55 pace for the final mile.

It sounds like the chip timing failed at the start but I was close enough to the line as to make little or no difference. The time they have recorded for me is 1:24:17, just over five minutes slower than the previous occasion (although the course has changed in the meantime to include another small hill). It wasn’t a great race for me but at the moment I’m happy just to put in a vaguely respectable time. Thirty-first place also got me another top 50 T-shirt to replace the one I’ve just thrown away!

Emma had seemingly behaved well for her Aunty-to-be and, after a quick shower and lunch, we set off for home and an evening of frantic packing. This was then followed by a late night helping Christine get some conference proceedings in order which were due Monday morning!

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