Today I do my 8th Nottingham Robin Hood Half Marathon, L is doing it too. I’m not sure how many times that is now for her but it’s way more than eight. It’s L’s sister’s second time and we meet her at Nottingham University before getting the tram to the start which involves changing lines at the railway station. Oh, and it’s raining.
Thankfully the weather does improve and the rain largely holds off for the race but soaks us afterwards.
This year the course has been tweaked slightly and the start moved further back but I’m not too sure what this is to accommodate. I line up in the ‘red’ zone as usual, hoping for something around about 1:45. My fastest Nottingham Half was my first one back in 2010 when I ran 1:36:22. This is actually also my overall half marathon PB that I have little or no chance of getting near these days.
I fix my eye on the 1:45 pacer and then off we go. Unfortunately he turns out to be a nutter, setting out way too fast over the hilly first few miles. On my reckoning he is up on his pace by a couple of minutes after three miles when he should probably be slightly down at this point and intending to make it up on the flatter parts of the course.
At the first drinks station somebody hands me a bottle of water and I’m like ‘YES, it’s in a bottle’. It is so good to finally see the back of the dreaded water pouches.
Despite the breakneck pace set by my pacer I just about cling onto his shirt tails until I start to lose touch as he fleetfootedly, and inexplicably, skips through the congestion caused by the narrow sections in Wollaton Park. It's as if he’s trying to lose his flock. Perhaps he is.
Coming out of Wollaton Park I see Daughter at the 7 mile point and inflict a sweaty hug on her before renewing my pursuit of my pacer before finally giving up the chase a few miles further down the road.
As we get to the last mile the excellent Race Angels, provided by Notts Womens Runners, are on hand to help you get through that final mile but they seem to show no inclination in helping an old man break 1:45. I gather I am not their target audience.
Rumours of them handing out chilled glasses of Pinot as part of the service also appear not to be true. Which is a shame, as it would be one up on the Great North Run Beer Stop.
Then I’m at the 13 mile marker and into the last few hundred metres which is on the grass and was a bit like cross-country running. I slither across the line in 1:47:14. It would have been oh so different if I'd had that Pinot.
Sadly after two years of handing out t-shirt to all finishers the organisers have again reverted to not having one which is very poor. The post-race snacks, in common with other big races, were also very poor.
What is good at Nottingham are the massages. Once again Sheffield Hallam University provide a girl for each leg (or a guy if you prefer). Great North Run take note of that and also that they have a least double the number of massage tables you did for a field about an eighth of the size.
In the evening we go for a night in the Crafty Crow, where we haven’t been for quite a while, but they have no dark cask ales but plenty of Pinot. So we adjourn to the Borlase.
(Sunday 29th September)