Great Eastern Run 2009

Some of you may know that I ran a half-marathon in October. Here, better late than never, is my race report.
I had been training since the beginning of July, with the goal of merely being able to run the 13.1 miles. Also, so that I was targeting my training, I wanted to complete the race in less than 2 hours 30 minutes. At the outset, I struggled running 6 miles, as my first race at Brentwood proved. So just over three months to build up to a half-marathon was quite a challenge.
Those three months turned me from a reluctant runner, only running while I could stay disciplined with my fitness, to a keen runner. A keen runner that is still a beginner.
I had still been struggling with longer distances and stamina, but was a much stronger runner than I was in July, the previous week I had ran another 10k race at Southend, much faster and I finished strongly. So, full of optimism we made our way to Peterborough for the start.
Supporting Alison and I this time was my dad, with his trusty camera, and my cousin Sue from Australia who had been visiting. We knew that the entrant limit was 7000, so I was a little worried about finding a car park with spaces. I shouldn’t have worried, we found a space in the first car park I went to. The weather seemed ideal for a long run - cool, overcast, and slightly miserable with not much threat of rain. Perfect.
Alison looking ready
We arrived with about 40 minutes to spare before the start, and immediately went in search of the toilets. We found them, along with hundreds of people queueing. There was no prospect that we would get to the front before the race started, and we were just debating options when the tannoy announced that runners should go to the start line. I was getting quite uncomfortable, but after all these months I wasn’t going to allow myself to miss the start, so off we went. I’m glad we missed the hype and circus of the mass warmup though!

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Waiting, waiting, waiting
It was a bit sad splitting up at the start, dad and Sue went off to the car to dump our coats and bags, and Alison moved nearer to the start line. I hang back quite a way, fully aware of where I fitted. In fact, I was feeling a little out of place, surrounded by thousands of athletic looking runners. So, on my own I waited, and waited, and waited.

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Looking a bit lost
This race was by far the largest I had been in, and it was showing. Impossible toilet queues, forming up to start half an hour before the race. I was getting more and more nervous as time crawled on. And I felt more and more out of place.
At last! The start! It was great, I was full of energy and forcing myself to slow down. I had to run 11 minute 20 second miles to hit my self-imposed target, and I was averaging 10m47s until the first water station at around three and a half miles. The atmosphere was fantastic, my pace was keeping me with a bunch of guys and gals dressed in pink tights, wigs and tutus that were collecting money while pushing a chap in a wheelchair. They had loud horns and had a party atmosphere that helped keep me full of energy.
That water station was a relief - not for the water, but for the lone portaloo that had only one person queueing at it. Ahh! A two minute pause, much needed.
The next point of interest was the “motivation mile” around 5 miles in. Loud, motivating music played from a very effective speaker system along the mile, along with some inspirational comments from a presenter pushing us on. I was still maintaining the same pace, and felt I could go all day.
The Course

I was so wrong, and things started to fall apart around mile 9. I started to intersperse my running with some walking, and did that mile in 12m50s - if I could have maintained that pace, I would have still come in ahead of my target, but the running got less and the walking more, and the next three miles were at a consistent 14m00 pace. It was a shame to lose sight of the pink tutus around this time.
I think I would have gone even slower, had I not been rescued. A generous lady saw me struggling about a mile before the end, and stopped to talk. We chatted about running, and I must admit I can’t remember much of the conversation, but we ran and walked together to the finish. The camaraderie and distraction helped me forget my discomfort a bit, and spurred me on to the finish. I discovered her name after reading the race results, so I can say “Thank you, Mim Baczkur”.
The sight of the finish line was even more welcome than the portaloo near the beginning. Everyone was waiting, and I think I managed a strained smile.
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Going strong

I have a medal now! For a half marathon, and 160 more people followed me over that line. I was impressed by the goodie-bag too - Lucozade Hydroactive, Mars Bar, a banana, the medal, a decent tee-shirt and a bottle of water. It didn’t look impressive in the sponsors carrier bag though!
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Crashed out
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