Martin in Gatineau Park

Martin in Gatineau Park

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Sunday 27 September 2009 – The Macclesfield Half Marathon

2704start Last week Alastair mentioned that he had entered this local half marathon.

I’d never done one, so, being free, I decided during the week to join him.  I’d had ambitions to tick off this particular challenge for a while, but hadn’t wanted to put myself out to do it.

Against my better judgement – I have dodgy knees - I do a bit of jogging just as a way of exercising – a 1.75 mile circuit down the canal a couple of times a week – actually about 12 miles in the last 5 weeks, so I’d done some training.

I’ve never attempted to jog 13 miles without stopping, so it would be unknown territory, and with a deadline of 2 hours 35 minutes I estimated that I’d take about 2¼ hours.

The ticket inspector on the tram gave me a quizzical look as I showed him my concessionary travel card….”going to do a half marathon!” I bragged, pointing to my breakfast (the banana was sticking out of my pocket).

The sports ground gradually filled with around 1000 competitors, and half an hour before the 10 am start many of these started to jog around the track.  Luckily (and I later discovered this was a big advantage) nobody had handed me a handicap card and I didn’t have to run anywhere until the start of the race.

Alastair found time (in between going to the toilet then almost immediately returning to the queue for said toilet) to join these folk despite nobody demanding that he try to tire himself out before the start.

I was glad I’d not drunk much – that toilet queue did look a bit desperate.

As 10 am approached, I said cheerio to Al, who shouldered his way to the front of the pack.  Not wanting to be trampled in the rush, I stayed at the back, expecting to remain there for a good two hours.

A gun sounded in the distance and after a while I shuffled forward, keeping step with the rest of the crowd.  The pace was very gentle.

Very gentle.

Trotting along quite happily, I found I could keep up with most of those around me.  I spent a while chatting to some of them, though they became increasingly reluctant to talk.  “Do you have a plan?” (I was looking for inspiration) “Where have you come from?” “Are you doing this for charity?” “Nice day, isn’t it?”

“Bit steep, this hill!” – no answer….

After three miles lots of people stopped for water – surely if they were thirsty it would have been better to have a drink before the start, I thought.

Anyway, overtaking people became quite fun.  I developed a routine – catch up, chat, move on.

After six miles there was more water.  I took a cup.  I now realise why runners pour such water over their heads – if you try to drink it whilst jogging you choke!  So, not wanting to get wet, I just threw the rest of mine away.

At this point it got a bit hilly.  I’d decided to try to maintain my gentle jogging pace for as long as possible, but many around me slowed down here.  I slowed down myself when I caught sight of Alastair’s distinctive leggings ahead of me, and it was with some embarrassment that I passed him on the next hill.

I have to admit, the hills – there was over 1000 feet of ascent – did get harder as the race progressed, but the weather was excellent, and there were plenty of people to chat to whilst I wasn’t admiring the legs of number 1312, a triathlete who kept re-passing me.  She looked quite fit and I was puzzled that I could keep up with her – perhaps she was saving herself for the bike ride…?

The pictures (borrowed from the web site) show Alastair looking rather determined, my ‘mentor’ for the day - number 1312, and me crossing the finishing line (I speeded up for that!).

 2701al2a  27031312

 2702martb

“You’ll never get a PB on this hilly course” commented an old guy at the finish.  “I just have!” I grinned.

Postscript
Some (notably Alastair) may be pleased to hear that I had stiff calves for a while after this sustained bout of exercise.  Luckily, the knees seem to have survived.

14 comments:

Martin Rye said...

Well done considering the knees and lack of miles running. In fact very well done.

Louise said...

I have always maintained that regular walking keeps you fitter than running and does less long term damage, (I walk, my older sister runs half marathons for fun). I thank you for proving my point!

As I had stiff calves, (and other areas I won't mention) after my jaunt up a minor hill on Saturday, I need to do more walking...

Well done sir!

Phreerunner said...

Thank you Martin, Louise. Whilst the short jogs seem an excellent way of keeping fit, they really do seem to wreck my knees if I do them more than 2 or 3 times a week. It's a bit of a puzzle that the knees are fine after the 13 mile jog despite severe twinges after 3 miles (I nearly stopped at that point). Perhaps the slow start gently warmed them up to the easy 'metronome mode' that lasted all the way to the finishing line.
I'm not intending to make a habit of 'long jogs' (though I fancy trying orienteering sometime), so it's back to country walking this coming weekend.

Michael said...

Very entertaining. :)

This reminded me of Podcast Bob's podcast about Rose's first triathlon. She was busy trying to keep up, only to find that she had won her class.

Well done!

Michael

mike knipe said...

Gasp!...pass the GTN spray. Looks dangerous to me.

Phreerunner said...

I thought, when Alastair told me his average heart rate had been 160+, that 'The Pie Man may not cope very well' with this activity!
Unlike Rose, I didn't win any prizes, Michael, and I have to admit that I trailed far behind some of the younger women.

Gayle said...

Well done indeed. I am verily impressed.

Having read that I'm feeling more and more like a lazy unfit lump of lard (really, the most exercise I've done lately is to walk to the photocopier).

I fear that my 'poorly knee' excuse expired quite some weeks ago now and that it's time to dust the running shoes back off and face the aching muscles as I try to regain a tiny bit of fitness.

Bollin said...

Very well done Martin!

John

Mark Alvarez said...

Woo-woo! Superb, Martin!

Nick said...

And you pb was?

Phreerunner said...

Hi Nick
Hope you are well, and enjoying life. If you can supply some Columbia gear that's as good as that from your last employer, I'll be delighted.
Did Nike put the springs in their trainers for duffers like me? Anyway, they did enable me to bounce past a few folk to finish the steady jog in 1.44.45 (officially a bit slower due to my long amble to the start line after the Lord Mayor had been shot).
More fun and less tiring than I'd expected, actually!

Dave Hollin said...

nice one! I used to run 10K distances but that was a long time ago. I couldnt contemplate doing 10K now let alone a half marathon!

peewiglet said...

1:44??? That's amazing on virtually no training! Absolutely AMAZING!

Many congratulations :) I'd be feeling smugger than a smug thing if I were able to run a half in that time, let alone a first half, entered on the spur of the moment and with almost no preparation. You should definitely keep it up.

I have dodgy knees too, but oddly enough I find that running helps a lot. I feel my dodgy knees when descending steep ground with weight, but if I've been running the problem virtually goes away. Could be it might help you too :)

Phreerunner said...

Thanks PW, but I'm not not sure about the jogging - in the old days I did do a little more, but I've found 1.75 miles, about 3 times a week, is all they can take these days - and that's only in the rare weeks when I have nothing else on. Cycling seems much better for them.