Monday, 21 July 2014

Home Town Showdown - Running (and Walking) The Swansea Half

Today, I feel like I'm experiencing the runners' equivalent of one of those rare occasions where you go out for a wine or twelve and miraculously have no hang over the next day.  I ran Swansea's first ever half marathon yesterday, and my legs don't appear to have noticed.  Yet.

They're fine.  No aches.  Nothing.  It's freaking me out.  Maybe my legs are still drunk and they're shortly due to wake up, recall what they've done and kick my arse into next week for putting them through two half marathons in two weeks?

"Yeah, it's weird, I feel great!  Let's go for a walk, or a skip, or.... OH MY GOD, THE PAIN!!!"

Been well over 24hrs though, so... If it does kick in soon, it will be the most literal case of delayed onset muscle soreness I've ever had. Or maybe I've put them through so much "ouch" during those few CrossFit sessions that they've finally given up and just let me have this one as a freebie?  Hmm.  We'll see.

Yes.  Swansea Half marathon.  An event I very, very nearly skipped in favour of a night on the lash. Caught up with some friends I'd not seen in a while on Saturday evening during one of their number's birthday night out.  Combining the fact that I really wanted to celebrate  with them with the bloody beautiful sunshine, which always drives me to cider (fizzy apple juice for grown-ups), it was a tough decision.  But I feel I've made the right one.  Because now I have a medal.  

Obligatory "Honest guv, I was there!" post-race selfie:

I walked some of it again.  There.  I said it.  I'm refusing to feel bad about it, though, for reasons thusly:

  • I did two half marathons in two weeks.  Two!  If you take out the six days in between, I ran a whole marathon this month.  Technically.
  • Medal.
  • I did it in pretty much exactly the same time as March's Llanelli half (2hrs35) - throughout which I had no walk breaks.  Which means that I must have gotten at least a bit faster during the bits that I ran in Swansea.  
  • I ran at a decent (for me) speed all the way up to mile 9 before my resolve began to crumble.  Not shabby going, considering I usually start to feel "the rage" at about mile 6 or 7. 
  • My legs have never felt better during or after a half before, so I must be getting stronger.  I just need a bit of a kick up the jacksie with my mental stamina.  It's aaaaall in my head.
  • It was H-A-W-T out! The weather went from beig a bit cloudy and muggy as fuck to no shade, you-can't-hide-from-me-bwahahahaha sunshine, which was decidedly muggy-as-fuckier.  You heard me.  Fuckier. 
  • Medal.
Despite the last 4 tapdancing-through-hellfire miles, it was the most fun I've had at a half marathon (and I'm an expert now, with my four, 'kay?), and I was chuffed to be a part of it.  Here's a few of my favourite flashbacks from yesterday's shennanigans:

1.  Because it was local, loads of people I knew were among the grinning crowd of supporters.  Not least Run 4 All, who hijacked most of the race by sneakily posing as marshals.  One of the coaches even put in the effort to wear our flag as a skirt and spent the whole event shouting our names and deafening us with a rave whistle.  This prompted a few "Do you know those people?"s from other runner around me.  Yes, sweaty comrade!  Yes I do!
2. Swansea is a chuffing BEAUTIFUL place.  The majority of the race followed the curve of the bay's coastline.  Swooping seagulls, paddling dogs, lapping waves... all especially lovely when you're tripping balls on sunshine and mild dehydration.

3. Apart from one little, humpy hill, the course was blissfully flat.  

4. A gang (gaggle, herd, flock?) of firemen were on hand towards the end to hose runners down.  Fire engine hose obviously set to "sprinkle", otherwise would have been blasted to the finish line in record time.  Wouldn't have complained. Maybe should have requested "WHOOSH!" setting for self?

5. The sense of cameraderie between supporters, volunteers and runners was awesome.  There was talk of one qualified first aider helping out lots of runners whom the heat had got the better of, and he'd only come down to watch.  Hero!

There were only a miniscule number of things that could have improved the day:

  •   I nearly cried when they ran out of energy gels on the sixth mile - really could have used the boost in that weather.  
  • The only t-shirts they had left at the end by the time I came shuffling on through were either size L or XL.  But, hey ho, I now have a new snazzy dress/nightie to prance about in, so not a total loss.
  • The last few miles were around an (admittedly pretty) estate mostly made up of office blocks - one of which I used to work in (woo!), that looped and twisted around itself.  I found that part quite disheartening because I knew the finish line was nearby, but I had to keep looping back away from the bugger!  Would have preferred it if they'd just let us bimble a little further up the coast before turning to head back to the finish instead.

Nothing of enough significance to ruin what turned out to be a bloody brilliant morning, though.  Can't wait til next year!  Now, I'm going to go back to sitting very still so as not to disturb the dormant pain receptors in my legs.... Gently does it....

"Hey, guys, wait for me!!"

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