RUNNING DIARIES: Clowne Road Runners Half Marathon 2011

‘SHALL I turn round and go back to bed?’ I asked myself, the wind whistling past my car as I parked in Clowne on Sunday.

Monday, 5th December 2011, 3:15 pm

But I was there, up and dressed, so I might as well give the Clowne Road Runners’ half marathon my all.

Having completed the Worksop Half last month, I was confident I could go the distance without too much of a struggle. I’ve been maintaining an average of 20-30 miles a week as part of my training for the London Marathon next April.

Why I signed up for the marathon, I do not know. Charity and a challenge were my main motivators, but the amount of time it takes a slow runner like me to do 14 miles means that training is monopolising almost all my time, when I am not sat at a computer.

So for a change I thought I’d give Clowne Half a go. It beats running round Sherwood Forest with nothing but a Cocker Spaniel for company.

Earlier in the year I joined the Road Runners for their Shireoaks 10km, and that was enjoyable enough, well-organised, and came with flapjack at the finish line.

Stupidly this time round I didn’t plan my runs the week before the race, or my meals for that matter.

In fact, the only sensible thing I did was decide not to drink wine on Saturday night.

So armed with my Lucozade, I joined a fleet of club runners; most seemed to be men who all looked like they meant business.

Where were the people in fancy dress? The charity runners? And the girls doing it in pairs in pink tutus? There were none to be seen.

And that’s because this is a race not for the faint-hearted. I was in the big leagues, and as I sat in a cosy corner of Clowne Community Centre’s bar, once again the thought crossed my mind ‘I could just go home’. Most of the runners took shelter in the Centre prior to the race, with the wind outside far too unpleasant to stand about in, making pre-race chit-chat.

As 10am drew closer, runners gathered outside behind the finish line. I crammed myself in behind the ‘sub two hours line’ quite close to it, thinking a few people overtaking me might spur me on a bit. My time in the Worksop Half was 2.21.

As the clock struck 10am we were off. And within two short miles there I was, almost totally alone.

I could just about see a blur of people ahead who slowly, over the course of the next 10 miles, petered out until I was just watching the odd fluorescent blip on the horizon.

But I was confident I was still on course. The wind was a problem; luckily I was in my long sleeve bright yellow fluorescent top, but I soon had to take off my running beanie hat for fear of it taking-off on its own.

This left me with sweaty hair whipping about my face making me look like some sort of nightmarish lycra-clad panto character that children might tell each other stories about at night.

To the credit of the marshals, they had the good grace not to recoil at my appearance as I lurched over hill after hill, panting ‘this way is it’, ‘bit windy isn’t it’ and other such obvious observations.

Troops of volunteers were also dishing out bottled water and sponges on the way round.

I reasoned that I already looked like I’d just crawled from an alien swamp, so opted to avoid the sponges.

Despite the apparent horror of the race, and the loneliness, I was actually enjoying myself.

And as time passed the odd runner would speed past me, confirming I hadn’t been at the back, but perhaps now I was.

But it was at mile 10 that I thought, why an earth am I doing this? Is this normal? Do regular people really do this, for fun?

The last three miles were just quite painful with my left leg aching with every step.

But somehow I got round, and then it was over, and then it was seven days until I have to do a long run again, thank goodness.

At around mile 11.5 I remembered the flapjack from the Shireoaks race and I hoped the volunteer baker wouldn’t have packed up her wares and headed home yet.

Thankfully she was with the kind folk dishing out water and t-shirts at the end of the race.

I only hope I didn’t frighten them when I finally turned up.

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