That was a cold one, seriously cold, my feet were like blocks of ice and my hands wouldn’t warm up. I really shouldn’t have expected anything less from something described as a winter half marathon.
My first half in nearly two years arrived to a sharp frost in the air, not entirely unexpected given the forecast, and a bit of a tickle in the throat, not entirely welcome given the circumstances. These aren’t an excuse for a poor race just additional reasons for pre-race trepidation.
I joined my fellow CJs shivering under the hangar frame in the business park for the first half marathon in my town, the bright sunshine doing little to warm up proceedings. Despite entering back in the summer it still snuck up on me but I was looking forward to running some familiar routes with plenty of people I knew.
Wrapped up as I was in base-layer, vest, leggings, gloves and buff the cold still managed to creep in and as we looped around the business park a couple of times my feet felt like ice cubes and my fingertips tingled with the cold. That was until the most schoolboy of errors occurred, my shoelace came undone. I know I should check them, then double check them but I forgot so there I was one mile in with my shoelaces flapping freely.
Tying shoelaces with gloves, even thin running gloves is tough, taking your gloves off and tying them with cold fingers is just as tough but somehow I managed it. It took close to a minute but I was soon up and running again and all of a sudden the cold didn’t seem like a factor, perhaps the embarrassment of such an amateur mistake warmed me up. Who knows? Who cares? I was warm!
For a first running of an event the Farnborough Half was very well organised, perhaps a lap less of the business park and fewer cobbled sections wouldn’t have gone amiss but I really enjoyed the switchbacks which allowed me to cheer on friends going in the opposite direction, the distraction was very welcome especially at 12 miles in. The brave supporters also gave us a welcome boost, kudos to them for hanging around, at least I was moving to keep warm!
Overall the training seemed to hold me in good stead, I felt nauseous with my cold but managed to keep a relatively steady pace throughout with only a 20 second difference between my fastest and slowest kilo not including the shoelace incident. I even managed a quick-ish last kilometre which was pleasing as I really had to grit my teeth and concentrate on turning those legs over.
I do feel like I left a bit out there, perhaps a minute or so but I still managed a personal best so I can now focus on speed for my next half in April and on tying my shoelaces.
And how did I celebrate? With a shandy at the rugby club (does anyone else crave a shandy after a race?) and then a slow descent into proper man flu.