Reigate Half Marathon

Posted: September 28, 2015 in Running
Tags: , , , ,
Reigate Half Marathon

Runners in the Mist – an epic tale of waiting for the start of a race

Entering the Reigate half was probably a mistake. At the time it may have been a perfectly good idea but in reality the last four weeks have been fairly demanding and it’s all starting to take a toll. Getting out of bed in the morning is taking longer and longer. I’m not that enthusiastic about getting up at the best of times but recently it’s been difficult to motivate myself to do the most basic of things. I digress; I entered the Reigate Half as it was a new event. I entered because I like supporting local events and I thought it was about time to do another half. It was only slightly worrying that everyone I mentioned it to said that the route was “lumpy”. Regardless of my recent running experiences, I’m not that fond of running up hills of any significance.

I allowed plenty of time for my prerace preparations, roads had been closed so getting there as a little more convoluted than it needed to be. When I strolled into Priory Park the enormity of this event hit me. This wasn’t a small event, there were hundreds and hundreds of people here. Tents had been set up and there were lots of shapes in the early morning mist. All about people were doing weird contortions which I think was meant to be “warming up”.

My race preparations are usually quiet and full of introspection. I’m not a noisy person and prefer to go through my prerace rituals untroubled and unfussed. The guy standing on stage leading the warm up to very loud music did not belong to my school of though. Everyone around me was jumping and bouncing and stretching on his command. It was all I could do to keep my fingers in my ears to keep the wall of noise at bay. I didn’t like the warm up one little bit.

It was a relief to start the run. The noise receded and it was down to the business of covering the miles. I had a vague target, a time I wanted to be under and I had an optimistic target, which was frankly unobtainable. Anywhere between these two times would be good but the faster end would be better. My plan as always was to start slow and as always I went off too fast, caught up in the general euphoria of the event. Around me people were speeding up and slowing down and generally being as inconsistent as me. Business as usual.

I like counting my distance in Kilometres, there are more of them but they are shorter so they go by quickly giving the impression of speed. I like counting down my distance in miles as the numbers are smaller and they give the impression that I’ve not far to go. I have internal conversations along the lines of “12 kilometres done, only 6 miles to go” it makes it seem so much more obtainable, but I’m glad no one around me is telepathic.

After a while I started reading T-shirts. One stated “This is a race we MUST win”. This puzzled me. Do you win races? There are a couple of thousand people in this race, one of them will come first, most of the rest will complete it. They may exceed their expectations, is that winning? What about the age groups. first in age group, is that a win? People win battles, they win contests, they win games but can you truly win a race. I pondered on this philosophical point for a while, I thought the T-shirt should say “This is a battle we must win” but I didn’t have a marker pen on me so didn’t attempt to change it.

Somewhere along a long stretch of road it started hurting. The road was undulating which was fine when the slope was in my favour but hard work when it’s not. I started wondering whether I actually enjoyed this running thing. At the moment it was a firm no. I liked the idea of running these events, I liked the idea of having something to train for, it made me go for lovely long runs. I was not so much in love with doing the actual event, this is where the truth was laid bare. The cold ugly truth of not enough training or never being able to better my personal best. It’s not a nice feeling. It wasn’t helped by the snippet of conversation I overheard “This isn’t fun anymore” said one old bloke to another as they zoomed past me.

I was into the last few miles, this was good. My mood perked up a bit. Two women crossed the road in front of me, one said to the other “I think it’s disgusting”. What was disgusting? I needed to know, but I wasn’t going to stop. I will be forever in the dark. A little further on and someone was shouting into a mobile phone about the road closures. He had obviously been trapped in his house because of it but his argument to the phone that no one gets up before eight o’clock on a Sunday was clearly being disproved by the thousand or so people passing his drive this morning.

1 mile to go. Really not far, I can run a mile. Well I can as long as it’s not up a hill. The hill was hiding round the corner and everyone else seemed to be taking it in their stride. Not me though. It reduced me to a walk, I felt the energy drain from my feet and stopped. It felt like everyone was running past me with boundless energy as I trudged to the top of the hill. It was not a good moment. I was really not liking this at all. Who puts a hill right at the end of a run like this, it was just not fair. Slowly I gained the brow of the hill. It hat a big banner across it so it was definitely a “feature”  of this run. It was all downhill from here but I suspect that my body had started going downhill a few miles before.

Reigate 2

Run the race, got the T-Shirt and the medal

I finished, I did OK, I celebrated with the biggest and greasiest burger I could find because as everyone knows calories consumed directly after running don’t count

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