After running the London Marathon in 2010 I continue my pursuit for sporting greatness without the aid of running shoes. I now run 'Barefoot' full time and aim to run the London Marathon 2012 'bare'

My blog is an account of training for running, triathlon, staying fit for life and pushing my body to it's limits to become 'superfit'. I hope it will inspire others to go out and get fit for life and see how enjoyable and rewarding it can be

Monday, 16 August 2010

Newark Half.... pheweee

I know, I know, it's been a while. I really struggle to find time to write sometimes but I am trying to make sure I spend some time doing what I enjoy! So I present to you my race report from the Newark Half Marathon.

Having missed out last year due to severe wisdom teeth problems I was really excited about doing my local big race. It was a strange position to be in having ran most the route a number of times when I was marathon training. I still can't decide if it was an advantage or a disadvantage.... it was definately a disadvantage knowing exactly what the big hill was like to climb!

So race morning was a relaxed affair as I live about a five minute walk away from the registration point. I followed my usual hyration and nutrition strategy completely oblivious to the weather outside..... and so we left.... as I stepped out the front door the heat immediately hit me! After my last race in the heat my confidence levels dropped, this was going to be another one of those races! So I reassessed my race strategy. The temperature as it was would mean I would lose about 30 seconds a mile, over 13 miles it soon adds up so I just decided to aim for the 2 hour mark as opposed to sub 1:58.

SO slightly deflated at the fact that a PB wasn't on the cards I remembered why I run and it's not to get faster. It's a perk and something to aim for but I was actually able to do this race this year and I intended to enjoy it. So I handed over my bag to Craig and he had the luxury of being able to head home for an hour and a half and be ready for me at the finish line. I headed to the start line and was shocked at the turnout, people of all shapes, sizes, ages, abilities had turned out and for those who weren't racing, were cheering from the roadside. So the crowded start line set off.

The first mile was a bit of a shuffle. It felt strange running in a traffic free Newark, no cars glaring or swearing at me like I was some insane women for exercising and having a goal... in it's place the people of Newark lined the streets, cheering at everyone, The atmosphere they created was fantastic and by mile 2 I was feeling good. I managed to block out the heat mentally and decided to pick up the pace.

By 5k I had set a PB so needed to slow it down a little. Miles 4 and 5 were a breeze, I felt like I was flying and a 10k PB indicated I pretty much was but by this point  the midday sun was creeping in. I was wetting my cap at every water station only for the heat and sun to dry it moments later. By mile 7 the race became less scenic and frankly a little dull and the heat started to get to me, I notice a lot of people around me started to slow down too.

Mile 8 came into view, far more scenic but still getting hotter and hotter. This is the point I'll refer to as the bad patch. For those who don't run it is hard to explain what it is like running when you are overheating. For me it's just infuriating, my mind knows I can easily run this race but the heat makes your legs feel like lead and your head pounds which invitably makes to feel tired. Meanwhile in my head I know I can run faster and that I'm a stronger and better runner than my last half but I'm going slower. With this running through your mind it doesn't make the rough patches very easy to handle.

I knew I had to snap out of it soon as the big hill was coming up at mile 10 and it is a KILLER! So mile 9 was mentally prepping my mind to handle this hill I know all so well and there I ran at the bottom of this hill, dizzy, hot, tired and legs like lead! I actually started to wonder if I could finish this race, this has never crept into my mind in a race before and it shocked me. So I tackled this hill with every inch of my willpower, my lungs were burning, as was my skin and my trainer choice was poor... I should of bitten the bullet and gone barefoot!

I promised myself an energy gel at the top of the hill, I needed it! But I made it, it was pretty much a downhill run from here I could do this! I took my gel and a few minutes later I felt nauseus, for the first time ever in a race I thought I needed to be sick. I soldiered on. The crowds got thicker and mile 11-12 was a lovely downhill stretch which was an amazing relief. I usually pick up my pace in the final mile but I just had nothing left and was still feeling a little nauseus. Just 10 more minutes, Craig would be at the finish line waiting for me and I drink all I like. 'C'mon Gemma'  I kept saying and despite being exhausted from the heat I managed to gee up a few people who had given up running 200 metres from the finish line, they could do it and they did, in fact one person then overtook me.... ha ha ha..... I best show them how to do a sprint finish....

It's hard to explain where that last bit of energy comes from but I flew across the finish line. SOmething just takes over your legs and I feel like a gazelle! 2 hours 2 mins was not a bad time bearing in mind the conditions and despite how it may sound I enjoyed this race immensely!

Next year I'll save the PB's for spring and autumn. For now I am happy I got to experience this wonderful race, 2nd Half marathon this year having never run beyond 12km this time last year! I really am still a beginner so I should be proud and I have one more half this year then a gradual and slow training plan for my first triathlon in Spring followed by the Istanbul Marathon in October 2011... I best get used to running in the heat then!

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