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Sunday, 12 May 2013

D-Day Arrives

"I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat" - Winston Churchill, House of Commons, 13th May 1940.

Of course he never, to my knowledge, ran a half marathon.
Today we’re in Sheffield, without the dogs, as we’re expecting a fair hike from parking at the Sheffield Arena to the start line inside the Don Valley Stadium. The distance is not too bad in the end but the race isn’t particularly dog friend. This is no great surprise with nearly 6000 entrants.

Starting the race in the stadium is a nice idea, if a little congested. After which it’s a three or so mile tour of some of the least aesthetically inspiring parts of Sheffield. Things pick up when we leave all that industrial dereliction behind and head into the city centre. Which apart from being much better on the eye becomes a bit of a tour of some of our favourite Sheffield watering holes - Ahh the Old House, the Devonshire Cat, over there the Sheffield Tap etc etc.

Also once in the city centre the crowd come into play and the sheer weight of numbers is worth an extra gear. Mind you if the city centre was an extra gear, the Ecclesall Road was a whole extra engine. The support there was simply awesome.

I scan the crowd for Daughter, who lives just around the corner from the Ecclesall Road. No sign but then it’s four or five deep in places, so it would be difficult to spot her.

There are downsides of course. A race of this stature shouldn't have drinks in cups, which are clumsy and difficult to drink from. I have to stop to drink from them, which costs time. They should also offer sports drinks but the sponges were a positive. I do like a sponge.

I also didn't think the mile markers were terribly visible and missed a lot of them. This made it difficult to keep track of how I was doing and perhaps is why, rather unbelievably, with 2 miles to go I was on for a 1:41.

Then nine minutes to the 12 mile marker seemed to have put paid to anything under 1:43 or so I thought. As the 13 mile point and the condemned Don Valley came into view a few minutes earlier than expected, I come to the conclusion the ‘12’ had wandered from where it was meant to be and a time of 1:41:46 is mine.

Even I’m impressed. I would have taken a time 1:45 in my arms and snogged the life out of it. A 1:41, considering my current state of unfitness, is well... in for a very good night indeed.

L of course has been just as injured, if not more so than me. She had threatened to take a book around to read as she was ambling round. Yet, I think, even she was pleased with her performance. 

We both get a post-race massage which should help prevent those injuries reoccurring.

The stadium finish was great and it’s scandalous that the stadium will not be around to host the race next year. Which poses the organisers a bit of a challenge for the future. Good luck with that.

The wristband at the end was also a nice touch. Not that I spotted them but L did and got me one. Sadly though both the small t-shirts and more horrifically the water had run out by the time she finished and there were still almost a thousand people behind her.

On the whole a well organised and enjoyable race with a nice-ish route, good bits and bad bits like most races. I guessed a race in Sheffield was unlikely to be flat and it certainly wasn't but it was probably as flat as they’re going to get it.

We have problems finding where we left the car but once we overcome that little hurdle and the queue to get out the car park, it’s off to meet Daughter for lunch. Well actually we spend that long drinking coffee and letting the queue dissipate, that when we do leave we are the last out of the car park. The attendants are stood there waiting to lock the gates. I’m not sure what they thought as we’d been such a long time that we had totally steamed the car up. I just hope they didn’t see us both stripping off to get changed or they’d really have been wondering what we were up to.

We meet Daughter and go for lunch in the Lescar where the Titanic Cappuccino Ale is exactly what my body requires. Daughter is well grumpy, which is a bit off really as it turns out she didn’t show up to support us, so if anyone had a right to be grumpy it was us. Perhaps we should have boycotted lunch but we’re not like that.

Back home we hobble with the dogs across the park, getting Doggo past the marquee this time, and we go for a drink at the Admiral Rodney, which is as dull as ever. So we move to the Wheelhouse for some Abbot Ale, which is better but as they don’t allow dogs in we have to sit outside in what is a really murky damp evening. 

(Sunday 12th May)

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