I never ended up posting training recaps for weeks 15 and 16.  They both were fine, but I was so busy getting ready to move to Cardiff (that will be another post entirely) that it just had to be skipped.

In all honesty, I was really quite stressed about the half, as it meant I was losing a long weekend at home packing, sorting and cleaning.  I seriously considered not going, but I’d already made all the arrangements.  I flew down on Friday, so I had plenty of time to rest and get acclimated, if resting means getting 27k steps the day before a half.

I was up early on Sunday morning, and made my way as early as possible to Starbucks first thing.  I had a flat white and muffin (a pre-run meal I know is ok for my stomach) and headed to Hyde Park via the Tube. I’d been a bit worried about finding my way (I went to Hyde Park on Saturday to get an idea of where I needed to be) but there were plenty of runners to chat to and follow to the park.

I stood in the queues for the portaloos twice (why are these queues always so long?) and made my way to the maroon corral.  There was a lot of standing around, and we didn’t cross the start until 38 minutes after the first wave.  By then I really needed a wee, but it was too late, and I focused on trying to keep a steady pace.  I managed to do so for the first 8 miles or so.

The first half of the race you are treated to the lovely sights of London, including Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, Big Ben in the distance.  This was great and I felt strong, although my quads were a bit achy.  I took some pictures (most of them are on Instagram).  It’s really hard to run and grab a photo!

When I finally hit the halfway point, I was thrilled and I took a picture!

🎉

A post shared by Cindy Corliss (@cindy_c75) on

 

 

 

 

 

 

The last half was a bit slower, and I definitely was feeling it in my legs, especially my knees.  If anything, this race has really made it very apparent I need to get the remainder of the weight off, do prehab work, and reincorporate strength training if I want to be a better and faster runner.

I also found the last half a bit boring.  You run through Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, but that’s an awful lot of trees to look at (and not many of them in full autumn splendour yet!).  Somewhere, around mile 11 or so, something brushed past me (it was quite crowded on the course at that point, so I ignored it, but then realised I’d been passed by someone wearing a dinosaur costume.

I pushed on, and as soon as I saw that there was only 400 metres left, I gave it everything I had left.

I finished in 2:44:11, which is like an hour slower than every other race recap I’ve read.  While it’s a 21 minute PR over last year’s half, and a full half hour faster than my first, this time is pretty shit for someone who has been running for over 10 years.  I hadn’t yet shared my time with social media, because I feel a lot of shame over my time.  I know I could have done better if I hadn’t spent the past year spinning my wheels over losing the remainder of the weight I have to lose, so it’s no one’s fault but my own.  Hopefully, next year, I will have a better time to share.  I’d be happy with between 2:15 and 2:30, as age certainly is going to begin to be a factor.  😂

I forgot to have someone take a picture for me at the finish (I was alone for this trip) so this selfie will have to suffice.

I stood in the queue for the goodies, which, IMHO, sucked.  There was nothing I liked or wanted so, I made my way to the merchandise tent as I wanted a hoodie.  From there, I got the Tube back to the hotel (after a bit of stressing over the Tube being temporarily shut).

I would definitely run this race again (mostly flat, no hill to start like in Glasgow) and the weather was perfect, as you can see from my sunburnt and salty face! Hopefully, my next half will have another massive PR!

Please don’t forget that I’m still raising money for Switchboard!  You can donate here!

 

There is not finishing a race, there is even finishing dead last.  What about being the last  on the course?

 

Picture it, Boston 2006.  It’s June, and late spring has descended on the city.  Normally, this means clear skies, green trees, and flowers galore.

But not on  the third of June in 2006.  On June 3rd, Boston was in the midst of what one might call a Nor’easter.  Torrential rain and wind plagued the city.   Not ideal conditions for a race that runs partially along the harbor.  Not ideal conditions for any race at all.

The Harpoon 5 Miler Course Map

In 2006 I had only been running off and on for about a year.  I had a couple of 5K’s under my belt, so when my (at the time) flatmate suggested I run the Harpoon 5 miler, I figured why not.

At the time most of my running was done on the treadmill.  I didn’t really feel comfortable running outside during the cold winter and chilly spring, so by the time June rolled around I had only completed a few short runs outside.  Not ideal, but not really that much of an issue on a flat course.

The morning of the race I waffled on going.  It was absolutely pouring.  I heard my flatmate getting ready and I figured I’d feel like a wuss if I didn’t go.  So I donned my sports bra, a tshirt, a hoodie, track pants and windbreaker along with my water resistant New Balance trainers and Boston Red Sox baseball cap.  I drove out to the race in Southie/the Waterfront with my windshield wipers on high.

After I parked and stowed everything in my trunk (this was not weather for phones and iPods) I pinned my race number to my hoodie and headed to the start line.  This is where I realised I was not dressed appropriately in the slightest.  Despite the chill, most people were in as little clothing as possible, some even covered up in bin bags to protect them from the rain.

I was grateful when the race began and I headed out at a good pace to begin with.  I stayed with a pack of runners, but as the rain pelted down on me, I began to slow.  I was soaked through, and the heaviness of all my layers made it difficult to keep up.

People began to pass me; the old and the young.  I was walking now, and not at a fast clip;  I felt like I was walking through molasses in a hurricane.

As I made the loop that ran along the bay I realised that there was no one else on the course.  No other runners.  No walkers.  No race officials.  I tried to pick up my pace, but at that point I knew it was futile.  I could hardly move with my clothes sodden with rainwater.  All I could do at this point was just make my way back, cross the finish line, find my car and drive home.  If only it were that easy.

I knew that the race followed the same route back in as it did out.  However, due to my snail-like pace on the return,  there were no signs, no barriers; no indication that there had been a race at all!

I was defeated- emotionally and physically.  I actually began to cry; I felt rather lost and was unsure if I was even heading in the right direction.   At this point, if there were turtles on the course, they would have passed me.

By the time I got to Black Falcon Avenue I saw a few stray barriers remaining along the side of the road, so I knew I was on the right track.   It seemed like hours had passed when I got back to Harpoon Brewery.

I never crossed the finish line.  

The finish line was gone.

There was no finish line.

The last finisher of the race came in at an hour and 10 minutes.  (I am fairly sure I finished about an hour later.)

I saw people in the beer tents enjoying themselves, eating, drinking, and enjoying themselves despite the weather.  It looked (and sounded) like they had been there for hours.  (They probably had.)  I found a place to return my timing chip and headed as fast as I could to my car.

I’m no stranger to disappointment, but this race experience made me feel hopeless, unathletic, and foolish.  I was also frustrated.  How did the race officials overlook me? I know the weather made conditions arduous; was I neglected on accident?  Was I so insignificant that I was left on my own?  Feelings of inadequacy surrounded me as I drove home.

It was a long time before I had confidence to run in any races again.  The next race I took part in was in June 2011 in Glasgow.

Despite the awful experience I had running the 5 miler, I have tried to learn from my experience.  I make sure I dress appropriately for races and the weather, I train as much as I can, and I  make sure I know general layout of the course before running.

 

What was your race experience?
When is your next race? (Mine is on the 27th!)