So today, my limp around the Nottingham Half Marathon. The first problem is getting there. My usual short cut across Castle Bridge Road by the Sainsburys’ superstore has been closed off and I headed into town having already seen the epic queue along the ring road. Getting within a mile was fine; getting that final mile took about forty five minutes. With no police or marshals directing traffic, it was every man, woman and Robin Hood for themselves which simply made things worse.
When I finally got there, it was long after my father had arrived and it’s not often that happens. Once on site, the organisation is better and the atmosphere building nicely. After pointing my father in the direction of a good spot to watch the start, I slot myself into the sub 1:40 red zone, along with the multitude of different coloured numbers that were already lining up there. My pace was optimistic due to the state of my ankle, not sure what everyone else’s excuse was but at least I was of the right colour.
We start and my ankle feels ok at first as we head past Nottingham Railway Station, sadly currently hidden behind a ton of scaffolding. Then we embarking on the long hike out of town along Queens Drive, a dull dual carriageway lined with business premises. I pass L and the boys who are supporting at the two mile point and then see someone short cut back to the start, presumably to be an early retirement. I still feel ok at that point, so I don’t join them but within a mile the ankle starts to throb and I wonder if I’ll make it round or not.
I hobble badly for a couple of miles but then I guess it goes numb because I don’t have too much trouble after that. So then it’s just a question of surviving the course. Unfortunately the new course, introduced last year, is not very inspiring and by now we’re running through, for no apparent reason, the Boots Industrial Estate. The estate is closed to the public and there were about 10 hardy folks supporting us in the whole of that desolate wasteland. Them and the tumbleweed of course.
Sadly the support out on the whole course is also a lot less than it was due to less places of civilisation now being included on the route. Even Wollaton Park, which was always a good spectator point, that pulled the crowds and therefore helped spur on the runners, is no longer include.
In an attempt to be ‘fast n flat’, the new course misses out any such scenic bits if they are within sneezing distance of mild incline, meaning the new route also does little to promote the best of Nottingham. The old course was much better and even that didn't take in enough of Nottingham.
I had hoped to pace myself around behind some lass in a Robin Hood suit but although the organisers have encouraged people to dress up as RH in an attempt to set a world record, they all seem to be men. There’s not even a scantily clad Maid Marion to be found.
After a bit of scenery around the university and not of the Maid Marion variety, it’s another dull plod back towards the city centre. We are turned away before we get there of course but if you're quick, you do get a glimpse of the castle on your left before they finish us off, literally, with a two mile out and back slog along Victoria Embankment.
This really tests your mental preparation. I was lucky I had L and the dogs there for a quick pat and a snog. That spurred me on for a while but even that wore off as the turning point seemed to get further and further away. Once there, you were in the unenviable position of knowing exactly how far it was back the other way. Evil stuff.
One thing I haven’t dealt with before are the new water pouches and perhaps I should have watched the video they supplied on how to work them. I couldn’t get enough water out of mine, while other folk seemed to get too much. Still, I’m sure they’re a good idea. I just need some practice.
Finally the finish arrives, with lots of people sat in the grandstands and a good jovial commentator announcing people as they come in. I’m handed my medal and goodie bag. Suddenly it’s almost worth it. Still no t-shirt in the goodie bag though.
Then we sit in the stands ourselves, watching everyone else come in. Including two women with orange numbers doing it in charity t-shirts who started beside me in the sub 1:40 red zone but came in at about 2:45, an hour after I’d finished.
Later, with the main requirement now being a large dose of painkilling alcohol, we head off for a night out on the Tarmac in Stapleford and later a Chinese Takeaway.
(Sunday 29th September)