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