Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Hello you all. Two posts in one day? Madness!
I figured I'd best relate my fun run experience from yesterday.
The Inverness half-marathon and 5km fun run went ahead yesterday despite winter's recent second coming to town. The predicted 10" of snow failed to materialise, but persistent showers throughout the night before and morning of the event had organisers contemplating a cancellation.
It was damn cold, but I was layered up and well prepared. Well, perhaps not well prepared. Having only participated in two previous races I thought I should read up on what do and what to expect on the day of the big race. And then proceeded to pretty much do the exact opposite of what they suggested. The key to success in these events, according to well reputed web articles, is preparation. Leave nothing to chance on the day of the race. Make sure the only thing you need to worry about is running the best time you can.
So, knowing I still need to pay the entry fee to enrol in this event (website credit card FAIL on their part) I sleep in. Knowing that there are limited places available on the day and that the office opens at 10am, I sleep in until 10am. So I have an unearthly anxiety that I will not be able to even participate in the race. So I end up spoiling someone else's Sunday morning sleep in to get a ride to the venue to get my race allocation. Not an ideal way to start the day. Then there is the quandary of what time to leave in order to get there; in time for the race, yet not so early that you chill to the bone before the start gun fires. So my idea to go to the gym to warm up on an exercise bike is replaced by a last minute dash to the line. The last minute dash to the line is then interrupted by our friend Debs and her brother bumping in to us on the way. Lovely chat, but forgot how close it was to race time.
We then watched and waited for the start of the half-marathon (it was supposed to start at 12.45pm, the 5k at 1.10pm). The half-marathon didn't start until after 1pm. So having watched those brave souls set off on their event we wander to the start line of the 5k. It sounds like it's just about to start. I figure I've just got time to get out of my tracksuit and wait for the thousands of other runners to set off before I join the tail of the field. Then I notice that there aren't thousands of other runners. There's only a couple of hundred or so. Far less folk than jut set of for the half-marathon. So I practically trip myself up trying to get my tracksuit pants off, and skip into place somewhere in the middle as the start gun goes off.
Needless to say, this all hardly accounts for ideal preparation.
So we're off. One thing I failed to mention as I stood on the start line: I realised that (despite going just before I left) the wintry conditions had inspired a desire to pee that was hard to ignore. But I had to ignore it. There was no time to go.
The first kilometre of a fun-run is usually (what do I know about usually, I've only done three) a free kilometre. The crowd of runners acts like a human tide, and all you have to do is remain afloat and you are carried by the surge. It is an exhilarating feeling. However there was no such feeling at the Inverness 5k. One look at the starters for the half-marathon should have been a clue. Up the front were some uber-serious looking runners, however not far back from them appeared to be a selection of folk that clearly were not runners. Some, I think, may have borrowed trainers for the event. Not the fastest looking race I've ever seen. So it was hardly a surprise to see the competitors lined up for the 5k. I'd say the majority were children. Many running in groups of their sports clubs, others paired up with a parent, others just going it alone. Those that were a little older (like myself) seemed to be in it for a laugh. Now, there's nothing wrong with that, however I was left looking like I'd joined the wrong queue in my running leggings, thermal vest and iPhone strapped to my arm (WANKER!).
So we set off (didn't I already say that?). That most of the runners were pretty short on experience or style or speed, I found myself having to wind myself through the first kilometre overtaking the waddlers in front of me. This was difficult enough by itself (seems people in Inverness run like they walk, for maximum inconvenience) and made even more difficult by some Einstein placing witches hats along the middle of the road, so as you tried not to get pulled in by the gravitational field of the woman in front's unfeasibly large posterior you are confronted with the tip of a witches hat aimed right at your jacksee. Is that how you spell jacksee? So what I'm trying to say is that the first kilometre was little or no fun.
The other thing to miff me slightly was the route of the course. The website lied. The race started pretty much where they told us, but instead of heading out through the Islands on the River Ness the course went in the opposite direction. This wasn't what I had planned for. All my runs in preparation I deliberately did the other way. This just messed with my program. It was like when I made the regional finals for the handball competition when I was 11, and I warmed up with my left hand first. Then when they swapped sides the jerk throwing me the balls wouldn't let me warm up with my right hand. Man, that was the greatest rip-off in the history of anything. But back to the race. Yeah, so we're heading in the wrong direction. This just meant that my internal timing mechanism was all out. I estimate that I was at least 500 metres out on my IGPS (Internal Global Positioning System). This really sucked after the poor craic of the opening kilometre. By the time I was nearing the stadium finish I was close to a whole kilometre out of whack.
So coming back through the islands was a little treacherous. I knew from my preparatory runs that the Islands are prone to puddles in poor weather. And seeing as this race was being run in the poorest weather since the December blizzards had cloaked the city in a magical white cover I knew there would be impassable lakes over the running path. And there were. I'm not going to exaggerate and claim that knee deep lochs barred our path, but I will be honest and say that icy cold, ankle deep puddles made the going uncomfortable and difficult. And in the final quarter of the race, when you really could do without further distraction. At least, I guess, it meant my trainers weren't soaked for the entire duration of the race. I guess I can claim small comfort from that.
So despite training kinda seriously for this event I didn't have a beauty. The weather sucked. Oh boy, the weather really did suck huge jobs. My own preparation was a shambles, and what I did prepare for was arsed about by the organisers. I tried to keep my split times up, but could not crack it for a sub 5 minute kilometre. I tried to lift my work rate as I entered the stadium to the cheers of my adoring entourage, but the legs said 'What?'. All over the vague distraction of needing to go for a pee.
But you know what? I did it in a time of 26 minutes and 20 seconds. Which I do believe is a personal best. So I am pretty darn well pleased with myself. You should be too. And I thnk you for that.
PS: As we walked back into town we watched the leaders of the half-marathon make it back to the finish. One of the more serious guys I noticed on the start line (in black and white striped vest) was doing it easy, and doing it solo. As he whooshed past he was barely breathing, and barely beading sweat. He was miles in front of his nearest rival. He finished in 1:07, second place finishing almost seven minutes behind. A remarkable effort. Oh, and the winner of the women's event finished 18th overall - the only woman in the top 50. Well done her.
PPS: Upon arrivin home it was a record quick shower and into the warm clothes to get to the ICT v Celtic FA Cup game. Amazing, looks like we're going to be able to get a car park right next to the stadium which is completely empty because the match has been abandoned due to poor weather. Another preparation FAIL!