Time: 2:10:xx (ish)
Medal: Yes (though the same as last year’s)
Anyone who knows me and regular readers of the blog might be aware, thanks to a few minor complaints here and there, of my intense dislike of the cold. In case it isn’t clear why I was not looking forward to this race, I would like to clarify that I really do hate cold weather. Today’s forecast? Freezing with a chance of extra freezing.
To make it even more difficult to get out of bed this morning, my name didn’t even appear on the online start list. You see, the really shitty company that was responsible for entries and timing are really shitty (from personal experience), and had wiped a handful of entries from the half marathon, even though they were more than happy to charge us for our place. On the day, it was also discovered that racetimingsystems had managed to screw up the chip timing, so it was just gun time results for all races!
I had phoned Garioch Sports Centre about the start list issue on Friday, and was told that as long as I brought proof of payment I would be allocated a bib. What I was not thrilled about, however, was having to wait until after registration closed to receive my bib out of a selection of bibs that had not been picked up, because it meant that I had to hold onto my phone (with a screenshot of my bank statement) and by the time I had my bib there was no time to stash it in Ronnie’s car. For the record, today I was Jon Bell, and I think I looked rather youthful for someone born in 1974. An impressive set of moobs, however.
Despite all of these reasons that made it so, so easy to decide to not bother and stay in bed, there was one nagging reason that stopped me from being such a wimp. I had promised to run this with my friend Grant, who I had ‘enthusiastically encouraged’ to sign up for his first half marathon with the promise of enjoying the run together. I sometimes wish people would say ‘no’ to me more often…
Just like last year, there was a lot of squeezing amongst people to get into the main sports hall to register. Ronnie was the driver for today’s run (of course), and today we were joined by Teri, Rhona, and Mark. We we all running the half marathon apart from Mark, who had his sights set on the 10k. After running into several familiar faces/chatting/using the toilet/registering/hanging about to get a bib, we had about 15 minutes before the start of the race. The four of us, plus Grant (who arrived by bus), made our way outside into the horrendous cold, and then to the starting area. Did I mention the cold? Because it was cold.
As my running jacket didn’t fit over the voluminous layers I had chosen to wear to prevent my frozen body from being discovered in a ditch when this freak weather decides to piss off, I had to be more creative with my outfit. Initially, I had toyed with the idea of wearing a fleece monkey onesie, as it was very cosy, but settled on several thermal layers with a thick (and, as I would discover, quite weighty) Australian rugby jersey. I stuck with a single pair of thermal tights, one pair of gloves (though I was considering two), plus two buffs, and a very bright woolly knitted hat.
There were one or two smirks at my choice of kit, and probably several runners who thought I was maybe a first timer who would be panting heavily and stripping sweaty layers from my body within the first couple of miles, but can I reiterate that I HATE THE COLD! I also didn’t look quite so ridiculous when the horn went, and we all found ourself running into a snowy headwind.
Rhona pushed on ahead, as she was spurred on by her recent success (and beasting effort) at the D33 ultra last weekend, but Ronnie, Teri, Grant, and myself stuck together.
The first few miles were fairly uneventful (I’m choosing to omit the extended essay I COULD write on how much the cold was aggravating me, but I think we all get the point now), and we were chugging along at conversation pace fairly happily. Unfortunately, this did not last, as Ronnie started feeling the strain, and despite the group slowing down to let him keep up, his injury and recent time off regular running were causing him to struggle, and he waved us on. Not content with this, I urged Teri (who had informed us all the she needed a bathroom stop) to find some shelter and take her time, to allow Ronnie to catch us up. It also gave me a moment to take a couple of pictures:
Ronnie caught up just as Teri had sorted herself out, and we set off again. Unfortunately upon starting up again, Grant’s knee began to protest, Ronnie slipped behind again, and then Teri’s knee started acting up. Overcoming adversity, we plodded onwards (and upwards, and downwards) into the biting wind, and even broke into song halfway through (a tradition I may have to stick to after having more success at mass participation this time round).
The rest of the miles were a bit of a blur, and I started to lose the ability to talk properly (because my mouth was so cold). My ass also went numb, as did the entire front of my body. I remember being grateful that the course was altered (for safety reasons) and the two notorious hill sections were cut out of the re-route, and I was pretty pleased when Grant and I passed the 12 mile marker (Teri had gone on ahead), as I was not comfortable with how cold it was.
At this point Grant was really struggling because his knee was hurting pretty badly. I tried my motivational ‘Nearly there!’ stuff, as well as my tough cop ‘Don’t be such a bitch!’ stuff. Neither had much of an effect, though, because Grant was pretty determined to get this thing the hell over with all on his own.
Finally, the finish line was in sight, and after a heavy dose of swearing and grunting from the male half of the group, Grant and I crossed the line together, and I left him to
bask in the glory of finishing his first half marathon wince, look miserable, and give me the finger. We found Rhona (who might have secured a PB by a few seconds!), and Teri, and went inside to stretch and take a cheerful group shot before going outside to cheer in Ronnie:
Once we were all ready, we took our medals, tech shirts, and slightly thawed bodies back to Ronnie’s car in the Morrison’s parking lot, before Rhona, Teri and I raided the bakery section of the supermarket. Strawberry jam donuts cure everything, for the record. I nestled into my seat, blasted by the heat and wrapped in a foil blanket, and spent the car journey home regaining feeling in my extremities.
Fuck me, it was cold.