Tuesday 21 April 2015

Event 11 - Plymouth Half Marathon

It's been a week since the Paris Marathon and it was time for another event to tick off. I've still got the cough that ruined me in Paris but that wasn't going to stop me.

Now the Plymouth Half Marathon is my local event, and it's a pretty big event in organisation and the amount of runners that take part. 4,000 runners run it pretty much every year. Registration opens pretty early and it is a very popular event, with many making it their first half marathon. At just over £30 for entry it's not the cheapest and not the best value for money. If you want a finishers t-shirt it's extra money and the goody bag isn't really a good bag. It's a bag with lots of leaflets with a packet of crisps, cookies and a vegan coco bar. The medal is a good medal, and you do get water and a banana at the end. However they ran out of banana very early on, so a lot of runners didn't get one. Which is quite bad knowing how many runners are running on that day.

When you compare how much London Marathon costs which is just less and you get more for your money. Also the Silverstone Half Marathon was only £20 (see previous review) and you get far more including t-shirt and medal.

If it wasn't a local race for me, where many from the club run and you know the support will be good, I doubt I'd enter to be honest. I did enter it though knowing all the above.

Kit already to go!

 It was a 9am start and with the my running club the Plymouth Musketeers mustering for a club pic at Smeatons Tower for 8.15am it was going to b an early start. With roads being closed off at 6am, I knew traveling to the event will be a bit of a nightmare as will getting somewhere to park. We left in good time, but even still traffic was bad and parking was a nightmare. I had to jump out to try and get to the photo in time. The wife went and found a car park space whilst I jogged off.

I arrived just after the main photo was taken but managed to get in another of the group photos. I was meeting a friend who was keeping me company for the run. Danny Slay is an Marathon Des Sables veteran and race organiser of HOPE24 a 24 hour ultra in just outside Plymouth. I met up with him at 8.30am in the athletes village. I wouldn't say it was much of an athletes village this year, there was two lots of massage marques and a baggage area. Far less going on there than the previous year and it was slightly disappointing.

Picture taken by Colin

Athletes Village
Athletes Village

Danny finished getting himself ready and we made our way up to the pen before it got crazy. The race being chip timed meant unless you were super fast that needed to be up front, it didn't matter where you were you were really in the pen. We had about 10 minutes to wait until the start of the race. With the pen filling up, standing space was soon getting sparse and you couldn't help but bump the nearest person.

Me and Danny at the start in the pen

Heart fm were there doing announcements, warming the crowd off and were going to announce the start. "We'll be starting any minute now, oh there's klaxon go!" Just like that we made our way to the start line.

The start line

Danny being aware of my illness knew I wasn't up for a fast time and that getting round was my goal again. The start was pretty manic as we squeezed through the narrow section until we hit the road up the hill along the Hoe into the Barbican. We settled in and away we went down into the Barbican. The course isn't a flat 13.1 miles, with some long hills thrown in. I was feeling ok right up until the first 4/5 miles when I felt drained once more. I started to struggle and Danny noticed this. There were plenty of water stops, although the first (which was also the last) water stop had one of those weird squeeze soft water bottles. I struggled to get enough water out when I needed it.

The weather warmed and soon it was another hot run. We made our way to the long climb of Billacombe Road to Elburton. In the warmth it makes it feel never ending. I got to almost to the top where I really startled to struggle. I had to break down to a walk for a minute to get my breathing back. I was back into a run soon after, all the while Danny kept with me.

We turned left off Billacombe and down Elburton, a nice down hill before another uphill towards Saltram. Again as I made up the hill, my chest and cough struggled. I had to power walk the best I could. You know those many sayings other runners say to those struggling they shouldn't say, well they said them. I just ignored them and focused on just getting up the hill in Saltram Estate.

One Marshal knowing I had just ran Paris with struggled joked shouting "Anyone would think you just ran a marathon". It brought a well needed smile to my face I can tell you. We got to the top and turned left in through Saltram along a rolling section of tarmac before down Saltram Hill (used be the route upwards before they reversed it a through years ago). Well needed down hill, but I a quick pee stop behind the narrowest of trees was needed. Danny ran on as I watered the flowers with shouts at me of "I can see your willy or I know what you're doing" again made me chuckle and much needed.

I ran off and caught Danny up. We eventually after about 8 miles made our way out of Saltram and back along the road towards the city. First though we had to run out and back along Embankment. With the estuary on side and the returning runners on the other it felt like it would never end. Again I started to struggle even more and I even on the flat i had to break into a little walk. I picked up the run again and eventually we hit the turning point just after 10 miles. 3.1 miles to go! A whole 5k that was all. I got to 11 miles before struggling once more, I broke into a walk and told Danny who had been with me all the way so far to crack on to the finish. He asked if I was sure, and I said yes. I let him go so he could get in at least a good leg stretch!

I made my way down Gydina Way before the turn towards the Barbican stretch. I grabbed my final water pouch thing before breaking back into a run. I ran back through the streets of the Baribican before hitting the last two hills, which I walked up both. The last hill leading towards the final stretch to the finish. I still managed to break into a sprint finish down the last couple of hundred metres. I was completely drained. The fact I can run these distances with out issues up until recently made no difference it felt like I was a complete novice. Mentally I found that tough. I finished in 2 hours 25 mins, my Pb for half is 1 hour 47 mins and I know I am capable comfortably of sub 2 hours comfortably. So it does really knock my confidence a little but then I come back to reality and say to myself you are ill, you have whopping cough which makes you dizzy and throw up. It drains you of energy every day. It's an illness that can kill babies.

I did finish it! Danny waited for me at the finish, I'm so glad he was there.

Danny and me after the finish

The Medal

Now that was the run for me, but the atmosphere was brilliant. I can't fault the support that goes on at this event. A lot of people cheering me on, knowing me from my running exploits recently. One crowd support who I didn't recognise shouting "I saw you in Paris well done!" The high 5's from the children, crowds giving out jelly babies, a well marshaled course made the pain worth while.

I'm very lucky to have very good friends in the running world willing to help me, be it from my running club the amazing Plymouth Musketeers or from the ultra running world like Danny. I just hope now my illness goes sooner rather than later so I can see what I can really do when it comes to HOPE24.

Most people would've not started Paris or Plymouth with my illness, but I'm not most people. I don't do them for me, I make the sacrifice for others.

Thank you for reading and please if you can donate towards my target that would be great.


1 comment:

  1. Was a pleasure to support you Owain, I could tell how much it was hurting.


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