I had taken a gamble that my Basics Foundation 11’s would last until I had done the Bath half marathon and the forthcoming Cambridge half marathon and then retire them. That gamble didn’t work out and as mentioned in my last post I was hit with a severe case of shin splints due to wearing them out. That took me two and a half weeks to recover from, eventually running 2 gentle miles on Sunday 23rd February, 5 miles on Tuesday 25th and cycling 10 miles home from work on Wednesday 26th.
Bath half weekend had come around and i wasn’t anywhere as near ready as i could have been. I knew i was capable of completing the distance, it would be a case of how mentally strong i was to push myself on for a good time. I set out for my sisters early on Saturday morning, having to travel from North Essex on Greater Anglia into London, then across town to Paddington to get on the First Great Western service to Bath Spa. I had been keeping an eye on the weather forecast and it had Sunday 3rd in Bath as 8 degrees with broken cloud and sunshine. Sounded good for running, but currently on the Saturday the weather was freezing! With no wifi on First Great Western trains i had to make do with some music and made it into Bath at 14.30. My sister made a fantastic cottage pie with sweet potato topping with bananas and custard for desert, a perfect pre race dinner in my book!. With an early and chaotic morning to look forward to an early night was had getting to bed at 21.30
We put a plan together as to what time to set off, where to park etc. We had pre booked breakfast at cafe retro on york street (@caferetro on twitter), this was fairly close to the runners village and start area. Everyone got up around 7 a.m. Time enough to have a small amount to eat befor leaving, myself having porridge and honey. Once all packed and into the car and we were off to Bath town centre, we were early enough and easily got parked in Victoria Park. So far the weather forecast had got it wrong and it was frosty and absolutely freezing! we made our way to the cafe to warm up and once there i had a croissant with honey and some water. The time had come to make my way to the runners village and get ready. Once in the village the weather hadn’t made any attempts to warm up so i had to continually jog around and stretch to keep some warmth in my body. Eventually they allowed us up to the starting area where BBC radio Bristol were broadcasting from and had my few minutes of fame talking to Steve Le Fevre on air. Dermot O’Leary was just ahead of me running for the coppafeel cancer charity and at 11 a.m. when the starting horn was sounded i quickly overtook and left him behind. The first mile down towards the train station is down hill and gives you a chance to get off to a good bit of speed and to warm up as well. The course then swings to the right along an uphill section and towards Upper Bristol road. Then downhill slightly and onto a long flat section towards the far end of Newbridge road and back across the river Avon, there was another slight hill at this point as well. Then a nice long flat section back towards the railway station before covering another loop of the same route. I felt very comfortable and was running a good pace, i completely missed my sister and family on the first loop but managed to see them on the second lap. It was also a nice surprise to see a work colleague who was in the town as well. I had an energy gel at about mile 8 and then made do with lucozade sport and water that was available on the course. I felt good all the way up to mile 12 when i started to feel my calf starting to tense a little…a then it got slightly worse still! I was far to close to home now to pull out and charged on regardless even tho i felt i had now reduced from a graceful runner to more of a galloping pony! To top it all Dermot O’Leary now came passed me…nnnoooooo! The last mile was all up hill and i pushed on as hard as i could really sucking in the air trying to psyche myself up for a final sprint! at the final corner i could here the screams of my sister and brother-in-law and gave it every ounce i had. Hurtling down the outside sprinting for all my worth i must have passed about 30 or more people..it felt absolutely epic! I had done it and finished in 1 hour 40 minutes and 42 seconds. Not bad coming back from injury and being my first half marathon. Unfortunately i didn’t catch Dermot and he beat me by a measly 40 seconds! I made my way down to get a drink and my goody bag. As i was having my timing chip removed my leg completely locked with cramp and all i could do was drop to the ground gritting my teeth and it felt like a massive task in its self just to get my leg in a position where i could stretch it out and relax it a bit. After a few minutes it eased off enough that i could walk again and made sure i had some more to drink and kept walking a mile or so back to the same cafe where we planned on meeting for lunch. After meeting up again and having a lunch of carrot cake, strawberry milkshake and more water it was time to say goodbye and jump on the train back home again. It was an amazing race and my sister asked if i would come back and do it again next year. I have just signed up for 2014 so it looks like that’s a yes!
For some more disturbing photos please follow the link below entering my race number if necessary.