Monday, 21 March 2011

Brentwood Half Marathon report

***I've had to come back and edit this post...scroll down the page for the race report. I had to comment on an awful tragedy that I've found out occurred at yesterday's half marathon.***

A runner who I saw at the finish line who had collapsed and was being helped by paramedics, actually died of a heart attack after completing the race.  I don't know who he was, other than he was in his 40s, and has left a wife and children, but it's a truly terrible thing to have happened, and my heart goes out to his family.  I can only assume he had some kind of existing but undiagnosed heart condition - I ran my first marathon for the charity Cardiac Risk in the Young and know that this does happen to fit athletes, but it's just so sad.

As cheesy and as clich├ęd as it sounds, we must all do what we can to live every day to the full, to make the most of every opportunity, and to make sure we make time in our busy schedules for the people we love, and sometimes take for granted - you never know when the worst will happen, as it did to my dad just over 9 years ago, when he died of a massive heart attack while at his desk at work.  When I hear about such tragic news, it always brings back vivid memories of that horrific time.

My dad was an obsessive sportsman when he was younger and I know that part of the reason I run is because I know he would have been so proud of me, it's just a desperate shame that he can't share it with me.  I really do feel for that poor family, and what they'll be going through now.
The first race I took part in was the Brentwood Half Marathon, back in March 2008.  I had another go at it yesterday, and was determined to finally get a sub-2hr time over 13.1 miles.

About a mile in, trying to keep to a 9 minute mile, I felt awful, and doubted myself, my ability to run the distance, hated myself for the days when I didn't make it on my scheduled training runs, and was convinced I'd never run a marathon in under 5 hours, never mind under 4:30!  However, as often happens, by about mile 6 I was feeling much more positive, and although still pushing, and finding it tough, I was going well and still on target :)

The Brentwood route is great and goes through some lovely villages, where the support is fantastic from the locals.  So many people...and sweets - I always love it when the children give out sweets :) If I had one gripe though it was why were so few roads closed?!  Both lanes of traffic were generally open despite the fact that there were over two thousand people running on the road and often it was terrifying, particularly for the first half of the race when we were all still pretty bunched up, as cars dived into the group of runners so they could get past a car coming the other way.  Also, I've not run a race before where so many runners had cyclists riding with them..and none of the marshals said anything to them.  All in all, traffic management really wasn't great and I'd assume that maybe there was a lack of police support for the event which is a real shame as it definitely spoiled it a bit for me.

I understand know though why the organisers were so adamant about not wearing headphones during the race - they threatened disqualification for anyone who was clocked wearing them, which was upheld when the official results were released - it was just too dangerous if you couldn't hear the cars coming up behind you.

Anyway, I kept pounding the roads, but definitely started flagging towards the end, not helped by a final hill from 12 miles and eventually finished the 13th mile (my slowest) with a 9.55 pace.  However, I managed to drag my lead-weight legs to the end and although I must have been passed by 20 people in the last 300 yards as I couldn't find it in myself to make a sprint finish, I did complete the run in 2hrs, 2mins, 39secs.  It's not a sub-2hrs but it was the fastest I've run the distance, another PB, although I'm still disappointed that I didn't feel stronger throughout the run.

But there we go, that was my last half before the big one - the LONDON MARATHON is in just 28 days!! I can't wait.

P.S - I just remembered...why do I have the same medal I got in 2008, just with a different ribbon?! Very disappointing, it wasn't a very good one first time round....

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