Apart from my Disney half marathon next January this was probably my most anticipated race and as sods law would have it I hurt my knee on my Wednesday run this week, I had planned to do a 13 mile run but after 3 miles my knee hurt like hell and I headed for home eventually running/walking and limping to about 6.5 miles and after reviewing things I put my knee injury down to overuse because last week I almost hit the 50 mile mark ! So I saw my Physio on Thursday for a massage and I got taped up so on Friday I decided to try again and sadly after 3 miles it hurt again only thankfully nowhere near as bad and I continued my run and got home just under 6 miles, suffice to say for the last couple of days I have been pooping myself at the thought of not finishing the Oxford half or even worse not being able to start it and the worst part is that I would not know until I started racing !
This morning I set the alarm for 05:30 thinking we would leave here at 06:15 to arrive at our designated Unipart car park by around 07:30. After a fab trip up we arrived on time having stopped for a paper and a snicker bar for after the race 🙂 well a bloke’s gotta have something to look forward to !!! the parking marshals were a brilliant and friendly bunch as were the waiting bus drivers, We travelled the couple of miles on the bus which I might add along with the parking was free (take note Bournemouth) and also very frequent in fact there were 4 busses waiting behind ours. We were soon at the Kassam Stadium and the race buzz had started, actually thats a big fat lie, the race buzz started about 10 miles out of Oxford when our traffic alert came on the radio and it said “Half marathon radio brought to you by Mini” haha needless to say the nerves kicked in then ! anyway back to the stadium, we had a walk around and found our feet, the start and finish lines were very close and there was an amazing selection of food and drink on offer including a huge stand from Lidl offering free bananas and bottles of water, what a fab touch 🙂 after numerous visits to the bathroom we were told to head to the start so I stripped off and popped on my black bin bag whilst I waited the 10 minutes to the start, it was pissing down with rain at this point and again I was pooping myself worrying about my knee !
a few minutes later I kissed Sue goodbye and settled into the 1:35 section albeit hopefully because I thought I could hit 1:35 if my knee had not played up, soon after the siren sounded and off we went, OMG it was slow for the first 200-300 yrds but I ripped off my bin bag (very macho I know) and off I went. My knee felt fine although it was then I realised that in all the pre race buzz I had forgotten to put any ibuprofen gel on 🙂 BUGGER !!! anyway off I ran alongside the 1:35 pacer and as I said it felt pretty good, I kept up a pretty decent pace for the first 3 miles in my head counting off 10% done 20% done haha anyway my pace was 06:53 07:11 and 07:18 but then as I hit 3.2 miles my blooming knee starting hurting and at that point I thought I was destined to run parkrun’s forever 🙂 despite this I pressed on and surprisingly it never got any worse so I started to feel confident and start concentrating on my technique and race plan, we then ran through the Mini plant which was my main reason for choosing this race bearing in mind up until 2 weeks ago we has a super little John Cooper Works Mini and I saw a few cars and was cheered on my lots of Mini workers, not petite workers rather those employed by Mini (that was my attempt at humour so please laugh) after that re ran over a flyover which was the highlight of the race for me because looking back to my left I could see runners weaving through the streets as far as the eye could see which made me feel pretty good and it made me realise that I was a pretty fast runner after all 🙂
Onwards I ran staying with the 1:35 pacer and mostly the going was good despite the rain, we then moved to the towpaths and they were wet and wetter ! this went on for about 2-3 miles and I could not help thinking that I should have worn my Brookes ASR’s but none the less it eventually ended and we came out on the high street and it was at this point that I glanced through squinty eyes to see we were at mile 9 and I mentioned to the chap next to me that we only had a parkrun and a warm down to go, he burst out laughing and said “god I love the way you think” well that drove me on and I picked up the pace and overtook the 1:35 pacer and for the next 3 miles I settled in and enjoyed the race although its fair to say the last 3 miles were the hilly 3 miles so it was a little tough although I honestly think I perform better on the undulating courses so no complaints.
It was not long before I passed the 11 mile marker and thought to myself for the first time “I might just finish, not just finish but finish with a respectable time too” and this kept me buzzing for the last couple of miles, as I passed the start line which was about half a mile from the finish I could hear the bands and the buzz of the finish and I picked up my pace although at this point this young American lad passed me like I was sat still 🙂 haha I am pleased to say he was the only person to pass me since mile 10 ! as I ran around and entered the Kassam stadium it felt brilliant and turning the last corner I saw the best sight in the world, no not the finish line but my amazing wife Sue with her camera and even more important her smile, this gave me goosebumps and I was quite emotional running the last 100 yards to the finish trying to emulate Kevin Yates with my bounding 🙂 Over the finish line I went in 1 second over 1:35 but a good bit in front of the 1:35 pacer 🙂 I ran on through the stadium and the fast American chap asked me how we did coz his Garmin had failed 🙂
I was then given my medal OMG its beautiful and I know Di my running buddy will love it 🙂 then I got a banana and a drink before being handed a goodie bag with a running magazine and loads of treats and a lovely brookes water bottle and then a lovely technical t-shirt to rival any that I already have.
If Carlsberg did races!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I promised myself that I would not swear on my blog but this race was “insert swear word here” AMAZING and I can honestly say it was without a single doubt my favourite race so far and I LOVED every single mile of it, to be fair I have only been running 6 months and 21 days (not that I am counting) so my experience is limited but I do seem to like the half marathon distance although I went for a half mile run after I finished and it felt great and another runner I passed said to me “jesus christ mate where do you get the energy” which now has me thinking…………..
This was a fab day and the organisation was just perfect no complaints at all and the course was fab, interesting and I am sure scenic for those who look at anything other than the arse your trying to pass 🙂 and the marshals were all so bubbly and friendly in what was possibly the worse day of 2013 so far so hats off to you all for a GREAT job, I will be back next year and thats a promise. Now onto the supporters, well what can I say it was cold and very wet yet you lined the streets and clapped along to the Battle of the bands and cheered us on and I can honestly say it was very much appreciated buy all us runners 🙂 it makes such a difference that I cant start to tell you.
I finished today in 1:35:01 and I genuinely felt as if I was running rather than racing, this is a good thing because I was able to put all my RunCamp and Hiller training into my run and concentrate on my technique and the best part is I know I have better in me so hopefully I have a sub 1:30 in me sometime soon and hopefully early next year 🙂
I crossed the line today in an amazing 1:35:01 and in position 313 out of 3507 finishers which is another top 10% placement 🙂