Reading or Fleet 2017, in the clash of half marathons my vote went to Fleet, my final run before the Brighton marathon in 3 weeks time. The main pre-race concern was of gale force winds, there didn’t appear to be any devastation on the way to Fleet but I did feel the gusts of wind on the way to the start line. Fingers crossed on the exposed part of the course the wind would push us forward not hold us back!
My first aim was to get a sat signal on my watch to time my run (last year I spent the first 2 mins trying to, but to no avail to get signal). I lined up with fellow Sandhurst Joggers; Jim and Andrew, we were all confident of achieving good times (I was hoping for 1:28/29), Graham was in front of us with the elite athletes and that was to be as close as we would get to him.
At 10:30 we were off quickly heading for the neighbouring housing estate to be greeted with cheers of encouragement by adults and kids alike, some with cups of tea in the hand trying to stay warm. As we moved onto Fleet high street for the first time the crowds had multiplied and lined the whole street with lots of encouraging shouts of ‘Phil’ and ‘Go Sandhurst’ which made me feel great. For 2017 the course had been changed to make the final uphill easier, I didn’t realise that they also cut a nice downhill stretch by the railway to accommodate the change which was a pity. I was running OK and on target for sub 1:30 when after 7 miles I had a water meltdown, by getting into a tangle with the water gel packs. After being used to picking up water cups and throwing most of it over myself instead of my mouth, I thought “great no wastage – How hard can then be to use?” Well very, after working out how to rip the top off, I then realised the water was squirting out the bottom. I was tempted to throw them on floor but persevered and did get an intake of water and I was still running at this time. Andrew Brooks blasted past me at this time and over the next few miles, including the hilly 10th mile (my time was really slow) shot into the distance to achieve a fantastic 1:28 time.
With 11 miles gone I was on track to hit 1:30 and looking forward to the ‘easier’ finish, I then became concerned when the 1:30 pacers went past me. My brain was on overtime trying to account for this as I was on target if I could hit a 7min last mile. I was guilty of watch looking and hoped there wouldn’t be an unexpected hill at the end. Then I saw the magical ‘400m to go’ sign – only 2 more minutes to go. I saw Graham on the side and heard his encouragement to produce a sprint finish (the interval training is paying off) as I burst past other runners with renewed energy. It is a great feeling to finish a race with a crowd cheering you on my time was 1:29:19 3rd best time ever.
At the finish it was time to congratulate other Sandhurst Joggers on finishing, a particular word for Helen who wasn’t sure if she broke 1:30 which she did and finished second in her category – an amazing performance! 2 weeks of low keys runs for me before I run my second marathon… it’s only today distance twice!