Today I completed my 5th half marathon, after completing my very first half marathon in March. I have my sixth half marathon in two weeks time, and my marathon debut is four weeks today. That is terrifying.
Today started early. I was staying with my friend Anna, who is an old school chum. She had entered the 10k with some or her workmates to raise money for charity, so even though she is moving to China on Wednesday and in the middle of packing up her life and everything, she couldn’t shrug off her charitable duties – very noble!
I got the train to Glasgow on Saturday afternoon and met her during the awkward phase of saying goodbye to people she works with (apart from those doing the 10k in the morning). Once the emotion, hugging, card giving, and speech was over, we headed out for pizza and beer, and about 6 years worth of catching up on gossip. Being sensible, however, we were back at hers and heading to bed at a reasonable hour.
When we were up, we got everything together, and headed towards the Subway to get to the start line, via the meeting point for her coworkers. Unfortunately, the subway opens later on a Sunday (in this day and age?), so we got a taxi into town. By the time everyone had made it to the meeting point, there was just enough time to say ‘Good Luck!’ before the 10k runners were lining up. I wont lie, I totally wished at this point that I hadn’t switched to the half. I was tired after three consecutive 8+ mile runs on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday evenings.
George Square, where both races were starting off, was packed with runners and spectators. Just as I found a decent vantage point, the elite runners were off! Despite a very uphill start, they were tearing up the road:
The original plan was to meet Anna at the finish of the 10k, then make my way to the start of the half marathon. Unfortunately, the finish line was further away from the George Square start line than I had anticipated. I dumped my stuff at the bag drop and luckily ran into one of the guys who I had met earlier that was running the 10k with Anna’s crew, as I was holding onto a pink hoodie for one of them! Then I started following the other straggler half participants who were making their way to the start.
Despite being about 78% desperate for a pre-race port-a-loo pit stop, there wasn’t enough time to queue for one and make it back to my muster, so I figured I’d just have to deal with it and use one of the toilet stations along the way if I got desperate (I didn’t). I had a brief chit-chat with a few people around me, because there was no shortage of people to talk to and did a last minute check that I had everything I needed in my waist pack (Yes, plus about a kilo of crap I didn’t).
Before I knew it, we were off! There were cameras everywhere, and a chopper flying overhead. There was a red double decker bus to the ride of the start, and as I passed it I looked up to see Freya Murray waving down at the runners smiling (I smiled and waved back). Thousands of runners hoofed up the first big hill and everyone started finding a rhythm.
The course was varied, as we went through residential areas, public parks, the city center, and even part of the motorway, so there wasn’t really any danger of getting bored of your surroundings. As someone who has rarely visited Glasgow, it was fun to come across places I actually recognized, like Pollock Park. I even ran past one part of the park that I vividly remember being at with Ian about a year ago, where we had been looking at Highland Cows and noticed that one of the several trees lining the fence had actually grown around the fence! I smiled as I ran past it, and then grimaced when I noticed I was rapidly approaching another incline.
Although not racing for time, I couldn’t help (as always) noticing that with just over 3 miles to go, if I belted out the last 5k I had a shot of coming in under two hours. I debated what to do for maybe 4 milliseconds before rolling my own eyes, calling myself an idiot, and speeding up. I must have easily overtaken over a hundred people in the last stretch. Easily as in, ‘no less than’, not easily as in ‘with no effort whatsoever’. Because I fully admit I was breathing out of my ass when I crossed the finish line. My finishers’ photo will yield gritted teeth and a scowl, but, thankfully, no projectile vomit, which for moments was a very real possibility.
After crossing the line, grabbing my medal, goody bag, water, and banana, and doing some stretching, I headed to the bag drop for my stuff, and then began the unnecessarily complicated task of using public transport to get back to Anna’s, where she was doing ‘packing and moving stuff’.
In reality, she was doing ‘drinking champagne and eating stuff’ with a friend, which I was obviously keen to contribute to. I must say, this was a delightful post-race snack:
In fairness, she was preparing for a pretty strenuous afternoon of labour, whereas I was preparing for a less strenuous snooze on the train home. After a shower (heavenly) and realizing that the train I needed to catch required me to leave quickly, we hugged, said goodbye, and agreed that less than half a decade should go by before we meet up again for more old school gossip.
In moderate pain, but exhausted, I settled into my train seat before starting to doze, waking up here and there with the knowledge that my posture was ridiculous and my mouth was wide open, but not caring. And now, from the comfort of my sofa, I bid everyone goodnight!
Happy Monday everyone! The photos are already out for the half marathon, so I did a tactical print-screen-paste-in-paint-crop job to a couple of my less horrendous shots. I have included an arrow in the first photo to be helpful, but also to highlight that, for maybe the first time ever, I actually remembered to stop my Garmin. Unfortunately, it means I kind of look like a douche.
The second (and final) photo I’m including was taken during the lung-collapsing final 3 miles, when I was busting a gut to finish in under two hours. My facial features appear to have melted into my pasty skin, but what’s left of muscle tone in my face shows true determination, at least in my opinion. I even took my headphones out to listen to the crowd as though it was the final lap in the Olympic stadium. Let it be known that I was in pain: