I am pretty much always told about how positive I am and even when I’ve written my blog with a head full of stuff and a bit of a frown on my face, people still tell me how positive I am – no I don’t get it either. Not in an attempt to be negative, but we’ll see how this one goes…
Firstly, it’s split into two – the race itself, purely because I don’t want to detract from how good the race is and how the RunThrough guys do a really awesome job. And the second bit is the me side.
Let’s get down to business.
Firstly I was offered my place by the lovely guys at RunThrough via Twitter, just a random act of kindness and I was very happy to receive.
I was tempted by using my entry for Victoria Park but I couldn’t let the opportunity go of doing a race literally on my doorstep.
On the Sunday morning, I did my usual pre race routine of porridge with Jam and Fruit and packed up my stuff to walk the 20mins to the start area at the bottom end of the Common.
I was surprised by the number of people around, it was far bigger than I anticipated, I still picked up my number in seconds and was attaching it to my club top with my trusted EventClips.
I bumped into Tom (@iamtomellis) just after picking up my number who I knew from Parkrun, soon Mike (runningmiker) wandered over from his run to say hi and hung around a bit whilst also meeting Lenny (@LennyM) and James Spinks who I also knew from Parkrun.
I went off for a last minute pee and to put anti-chaffing stuff where you don’t need to know it went. I also put my belt on which was bothering me straight away – it felt like a million Colin the Caterpillars were in the pocket, I tightened it up and just thought I’d see how it goes.
Michele (@Whiffenpuff) and Catherine (@Catherinetwits) arrived and we chatted before dropping my bag in the bag drop area (laid out with numbers 0-100, 101-250 etc etc, again seamless).
The start was done in waves, and you basically organise yourself into which wave is the most suitable to your time. We went in the third wave and I think it was the last one to go. Mike was on hand to take a few pics for us.
The race started on the grass before heading up the huge hill in the Common. The course was so dry, I’ve never seen the common that dry before and it made it tough in places as I’m used to mud or at least nice soft ground.
The course was a loop around the outer edge of the common, twice. The first 1.5miles were up hill, a flat 3.5mile section then downhill for the final 1.5mile – then you do it all again. The route was well signposted and marshals at every major turn where there was a possibility of taking a wrong turn and getting lost. The first water station was just after 4mile and was desperately needed in the hot weather.
The race, course, organisation – second to none. I mean it’s RunThrough. I would recommend this to anyone who can comfortably do a half but fancies a bit of a challenge. It could be really tough if it had been raining and the hill is a decent enough challenge for most but certainly not impossible.
So how did I get on?
Well, really well. I looked at my splits this morning and as it turns out I was bang on pace at half way – even with the huge hill.
Setting off I found my comfortable pace and initially tried to keep with the Parkrun-Orange top lady or Team-something in fancy dress in front. By the time we got to the top of the hill they were well away and I thought to myself to do as I did at Brighton, run my race, take my time and they’ll come back to you later – at Brighton I picked up over 50 places in the second half!
I trudged on, until the people in front had pretty much disappeared in the twisty section of the course. I was sure on the email it said there were going to be four waves but I had a feeling most went in wave 3. At one of the turn points I looked back down the course to see no one behind me – I was last!.
I was feeling pretty good though, my splits were spot on, I kept my intervals going nicely and didn’t feel the excessive need to walk etc.
I took a drink at the water station and knew exactly where I was once I got on to Windmill Drive as the route takes in our club run route. However, it was then I got overtaken by the lead bike and runner – not a problem happens all the time at Parkrun. As I approached the hill down to Beverley Brook I decided to ignore my intervals and just run the downhill like some nuts fell runner. I took the left hand path hoping the quicker runners would take the slightly straighter route down the middle and I wouldn’t get in anyone’s way.
The support from the front/middle-of the pack runners was great, including shouts of Go on Carl (no idea who they were) and go Windmilers etc etc. I ran to the 6mile marker and I felt a pang of hunger so I took on some Colin the Caterpillars.
Although I think seeing all of these quicker runners go by, my head started to drop, I was thinking of “how jealous I was of them, wondering if one day I’d be that quick”, “I wonder if I’m too far back and when I get to the lap point they’ll pull me over”, “please pull me over”, “if they do I’ll make a stink and still carry on”, “was there a time limit – I don’t remember seeing one” – you’re head can do crazy things whilst you’re running.
I remember Nic (@NicCombe) saying in her London Blog thinking that her family had got bored and probably just gone home because she didn’t see them at one point – I can see how you might think that now. Of course as a spectator/family member, you would never dream of it, but when you’re running and tired, all sorts go through your head.
I got a bit of a pick up from the crowds at the bottom of Beverley Brook, including the one and only Gordon Ramsey (although it wasn’t until someone tweeted me the photo I knew he was there – Bring cake next time Gordon!!!).
From then on I walked, certain that once I got to the turn someone would pull me over, of course, they didn’t, they gave me a good cheer and told me to keep going. I properly trudged up the hill, oh yeah if I’m going to bail, i’ll do the hill first before bailing (idiot).
Going up the hill, I was thinking of the poor marshals out there, in the baking sun, probably waiting for me, fed up of waiting. I tried to think of you guys who are probably reading this, “what are you going to tell the people on twitter”, “what about Team Katzenjammer who between us have never had a DNF”, “think of the message Kim sent you before Brighton and Silverstone” – but the little voices were winning.
I had a gel and spotted a bin right by the 7mile marker, I put my gel packets in and said to myself “you need to decided now, you either stop and quit, or go past and finish”.
I stopped, right next to the mile marker, no one was near, behind or infront, and I stooped down and stared at my feet, almost in tears, I turned around and made the three-quarter mile walk back to the finish.
Annoyingly I ran back – I wasn’t injured, I wasn’t fatigued, it was all in my head. I happened to see every Tom, Dick and Harry on the way back which didn’t help. I saw my club social runners and stopped to have a chat with them, I saw Coach Jo and friend running, I saw James, Laura and Tom near the finish and I felt pretty down.
Walking along the wrong side of the tape I gave the finishers a rousing cheer as they finished and then went off to collect my bag. I was just about to scarper as I hear Lucy’s (@LucyLindley1) name being called as she finished – I thought I’d go over and congratulate her on a superb run, especially on such a tiny amount of training – I don’t know how she does it, natural talent obviously!
We waited around for Michele and Catherine to finish and took a few selfies and one with a Womble before heading off to the Rose & Crown at Wimbledon Village for some celebratory drinks!
Where do I go from here?
Tips on mental strength anyone? I’ve never had a problem before, even when I was so fatigued, tired and hurting at Royal Parks I still finished.
I have Brighton 10k next Sunday, it should be a good weekend and not to put too much pressure on – a good PB opportunity – yes I will be disappointed with anything less to be honest.
I’ve already decided I want to go back and do Wimbledon Half again, they do it 3/4 times a year and I have to go back and smash those demons that stopped me on Sunday.
What I don’t get is that I was so relaxed, I wasn’t nervous at all, I really thought I had 13.1 miles in my back pocket and one more race where I could walk away from it and I’d say I was comfortable with the distance.
I guess it just wasn’t meant to be.
One final thing: I can’t thank everyone enough for your support an encouragement post Sunday, I honestly wanted to run (well) and hide but you guys made facing my first DNF almost bearable. I’ve already been for my first run since (see RunningWorks Beginner Blog) and that kind of sorted me out, reminded me that I can still run and I am a runner (shuffler really). I know I’ll have a chat with my Yoda at the weekend and he’ll sort me out and put me back on track – or just give me cake, who knows?.
Happy Running everyone,
Do come say hi if you’re in Brighton this weekend and good luck to all those tapering for the Big Spring Marathons and good luck to everyone racing!.
Have you DNF’d before?
How did you cope with it?
Was it Injury or Mental?