Schoolboy error of the century

I’m not even sure I should be writing this report as I made the cardinal sin of booking a race on 17 September. I’ll clearly never make this schoolboy error again but since I decided to make the best of a bad job I thought I’d write it up.

On the back of my fun in Lanzarote in November I responded to one of my friends, new to running, who decided he wanted to do his first half marathon. On the back of my runner’s high, whilst at Club La Santa, I booked up and paid for the Simply Health Bristol Half Marathon 17 September 2017. You can imagine Andy’s face when I came back into the sports bar and told him what I’d done. However by that time £40 and been spent and I knew I’d have to spend the next few months getting earache from Andy for booking a race on the most important day of the year.

Fast forward to the evening of 16 September and down to my good friend Duncan’s house at Bishop Sutton near Bristol, had a decent pasta dinner and then I tried to calm his nerves about the race ahead. As I write this now I can’t believe how relaxed I am ahead of longer races in comparison to 3 or 4 years ago where I’d be a gibbering wreck.

Decent sleep and then in early to get to the start area. In fact we got there so early that the volunteers were still having their briefing. Grabbed a cup of coffee in the Ibis Hotel (only place open at that time in the morning) and chatted to a few runners ahead of the race.

This was the first time I’d ever run in a “big” race; 10,000 runners were taking part and the biggest race I’d ever taken part in prior to this was probably the Bedford Half which is around 1500 runners. It’s obviously got a totally different feel – my feelings are that I prefer the smaller races. Apart from anything, the logistics of the start and finish are always easier but then again the bands and the music are fun to listen to.

Anyway off we go and the first eight or so miles is an out and back underneath the glorious Clifton Suspension Bridge which was built by legendary Victorian engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel. At 4 I would describe myself as feeling “very good” and despite not having a watch I knew my pace was pretty healthy. Bristol is quite a flat course and I really felt the benefit in my legs as I don’t do a massive amount of hill work so they do tend to slow me down. At the turn I was still feeling good and then the last 4 miles criss-cross their way through the city streets of Bristol. It was nice to have a few shouts of “come on Leighton buzzard” from a fellow runner – I’m guessing this was possibly someone from LFR but I’m not sure. Pushing on and it was nice to have a couple of jelly babies from a fundraising friend who works at one of the big charities in the south-west. That was a nice boost see her and did help me psychologically. It’s amazing how much supporters that you know can push you on.

Up to the final straight and I saw in the distance the clock reading 1 hour and 41 minutes. I simply couldn’t believe it but was very pleased that I’d accomplished Andy’s mantra which had been running through my head: “it’s not worth doing it unless you get a PB”. (Just FYI, I only said this about this particular race on this particular day as Chris had abandoned us for the West Country! – Andy)

P.S.  gutted I missed Mr and Mrs K’s BBQ!