Whew, I am tired, and until 30 minutes ago very stinky. Today marked the 16th race for my Half-Fanatic status (qualified February 2012 with doing 2 in 2 days), the third for the year and also my first race ever in the UK, the Stafford Half Marathon. What can I say, I'm a glutton for punishment apparently--but not to the extent where I'm going to start running marathons, two of those were quite enough thankyouverymuch!
I am not quite sure where to start since I am so out of practice writing race reports..........lol, I don't think I wrote particularly good ones to begin with but this has been quite a long dry spell. With that I guess I will start with that I found it quite odd that you could collect your medal BEFORE the race began! Apparently that's fairly common over here. Next, I am not a fan of late race starts unless it is a night race. Today's started at 10 am, the Colonial half in Williamsburg, VA last month started at 1:10 pm. I can never figure out my nutrition with these because I am generally an early morning, before breakfast runner and I invariably end up with tummy issues. Also today was COOOOOOOOOOOOOOLD--but not cold enough to be comfortable with a long sleeve shirt and tights, at least for me. It was cold enough though that my feet felt numb for the first 2 miles of running. At least we didn't get the forecast heavy rains.
Overall impressions of the Stafford Half Marathon, very pretty scenic course that wound you through the town center at the start and finish (not sure I like that, too reminiscent of the Hogeye finish), HUGE amounts of crowd support during the majority of the race, and oh, a hill climb that went on for over a mile! There was a mix of path and road that was nice except during the last 3 miles when it took us over some slippery grass and muddy areas (my right hamstring is protesting the couple of slides I took). I am not too sure I like the water bottle method at the water stops--there were a few near misses when people tossed them on the ground.
Another thing I found odd was that hardly anyone thanked the volunteers, police officers, or spectators but that one is most definitely a cultural difference between the Brits and Americans. I can understand not doing so when you're a front runner but when you're a middle of the packer like me it seems impolite not to do so. It was explained to me afterward that nobody expects it and if you did, you are likely to get "Why are you talking, put some effort into it!". Lol, just one of those things to adjust to.
I didn't go into this race expecting a personal record because it was such a hilly course and I still have some lingering bits of jet lag but I surprisingly found myself with a great pace that felt easy. Not fast, mind, but a respectable pace nonetheless. I even managed to unpin my bib from my long sleeve shirt, take it off to tie around my waist, and re-pin it to my short sleeve shirt while keeping an 8:30 pace. There were very explicit instructions on where you could pin the bib, couldn't be off to the side or on your leg (I usually wear mine pinned to my shorts or tights).
Sounds like I had a great race, eh? I did, right up until mile 9, even the 1.3 mile long hill was kept to 8:41........but then my stomach and intestines decided to play a nasty trick on me by deciding they were not gonna play along with this racing business. I dropped to 8:49, 8:30, 8:37, 9:08, 8:38, and 7:59 for the last .10th of a mile. Yep, despite the fantastic feeling legs, I had to take a walk break at mile 12 to prevent an "accident", grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. I should have been kicking out 8:10-8:15 minute miles at that point. UGH, BLECH, and a whole host of expletives that I won't subject y'all to. Feel free to use your imagination and fill in the blanks though ;-). It's time to revive the Imodium usage apparently.
Final stats for today: gun time 1:54:54, chip time 1:52:54 (yes it took me 2 minutes to cross the start line mat!) 1037/2079 Overall (gun time), 171/? Female, 28/107 Age Group. So if you use my chip time this is my 2nd fastest half marathon ever, narrowly edging out the Williamsburg by 50 seconds--gun time is faster on the latter though because it only took me 15 seconds to cross the start mat. I am still looking for another sub 1:50 though, guess I need to look for a flat race again!