So this weekend’s race was the Sleaford Half Marathon, mmm Short, tramac….
Being relatively local there was a civilised alarm time for the drive from Nottingham to RAF Cranwell. Drive duly done it was the usual process of registration on the bases sports field and back to the car to fix numbers and wait for my running buddies Gary, Richard and Ian. They had been giving me a bit “encouragement” to do a road race. So I had entered this race without telling them and planed to appear out of the blue to add to the affect the pervious night I’d claimed I would need to be very drunk to enter a road race, childish but it amused me. So there was some surprise and much banter when I appeared and announcing my supposed stinking hangover.
Time to head for the start. Lots of people doing laps of the football pitch including me this time the only bit of the day I’d be keeping up with Rich and listen to the wise words of our running Jedi.
Leaving Rich with the racing snakes we line up roughly in the middle of the field and suddenly realise that the big clock on next to the start line is ticking, no horn, no 3,2,1,0.5 etc. I faff with the phone, Strava on and struggle to get it in my bum bag (I tell you this as its one of the more interesting bits of the race.) and worry I have switched it off in the process. I’m eased in to my road running career as we start across the playing fields keen not to start off two quick we take it steady the friendly voice of Miss Strava speaks to me as we arrive at the first road section which soothes my inner data analyst. We head off the base and on to country lanes. I have been told that this is a hilly course it has 260ft of climbing, the first “hill” is well an undulation I feel a little Crocodile Dundee moment “That’s Not a Hill” I did do a 10k two weeks a go with three times the climbing don’t you know. And then we’re back on the flat. There is then another section of off road along a very muddy farm track and I am longing for my Speedcross but instead join the whole field mincing around in my road shoes once back on hard pack I seam to lose Gary although it transpires he was never more than 5 to 10 meters behind me till about 7 miles We Pass two vintage biplanes one of which was fully tooled up with Lewis guns which was a highlight of the race. As we hit tarmac proper again and it’s between high hedges which sets the tone for the next 9 miles punctuated only by some very enthusiastic marshals. Water stop 1 arrives, I down a gel and grab a water and feel a childish joy being able to chuck the bottle away like I have seen them do on the telly although with a pang of guilt at chucking a near full 500ml bottle of water. At 7 miles we hit a long gradual incline and I continue happily picking off the runner in front making my way up the field maintaining 8:10ish min/miles. Past water stop 2, more gel and more bottle throwing, more guilt and a steeper bit of a hill finally finishes the slope off. We turn in to the last 4 miles. I have to say I was getting a bit bored at this point. A bit of acceleration for a couple of miles on a slight down through the last water station. At about 11 miles the legs feel a bit wobbly and I am relived to discover we don’t have to go back along the farm track again as we turn back on to the lollipop stick for the reverse down and up which is now straight in to the freshening wind, the up was a bit of a challenge but I keep it going and its back though the village and on to the Sport fields fighting the wind all the way I manage to pick off a few more people on this last stretch finally the 400 meter marker, then the 200 meter marker and finish!.
Job done 1:49:40 is my chip time which is 8:15 min/miles and 275th place. I would have been happy with anything sub 2 hour but sub 1:50 was better than hoped and given I ran the race with Negative 5k splits I was quite chuffed!
Chip removed, Race T Shirt and Goodie Bag Collected which was a Sainsbury’s Bag with a Sainsbury’s Biscuit Bar in which was odd given the race was sponsored by the Co-Op. Quick change and I go and find Rich who finished in 87th place in 1:33:57 and he is genuinely impressed with my finish time, I think he may have been understandably a touch sceptical at my prediction of a 1:50 something. We head back to the finish to find Gary who came home in 1:56:31 366th and Ian who we managed to loose for 15 minutes finished in 2:25:35 550th in spite of a 3 year long bout of Man flu. A quick brew, well done all round and we head off. Short, Flat, Fast, Tarmac Thingy Done.
All in all it was OK and a good test of fitness. I may do another, but it’s not a trail race which is where my heart lies. Now it was time for Sunday Lunch.
My Name is Richard Martin and I am more an Trail Runner than a Short, Flat, Fast, Tarmac Thingy runner.