The `Fleet Half` Marathon - What a fantastic event…ok I`m ever so slightly biased as it`s my local half but I`m sure you will forgive me for that.
Yes one of my favourite events, it was a shame that I wasn`t going to race this one as I had been putting in the long miles recently & had a bit of niggle so when it snowed on the Monday my mind was made up - I was going to have some fun & wear fancy dress. Now earlier in the year I had found out someone who had helped me & many others at the Great North Run had died of cancer, only 46 – so shocking young. I wasn`t there in this particular year but I always remembered a story of Mick running the Great North in a Santa Suit so to me the outfit choice was easily made - this one was for you Mick.
So come the morning of the race, the banter & good luck messages started early. Evenually I cycled over to my Brother`s who lives in Fleet & walked up to the event HQ - it started to lash down - but the weather will be what it will be - no point worrying about something you can`t change. I had kept the dressing up in fancy dress very quiet but if the weather was different I would have cycled & walked in costume, which I think would have been funny - a Santa on a bike :-) Anyway I met Adrian en route & walked to the field - wow it was muddy !! We only had 40 minutes or so to go - we eventually met with Frimley Lodge parkrunners & other Cove Joggers. While it seemed every runner was hiding under the bag drop marquee I got changed into my outfit… with minutes to go I dropped the bag off - bumped in Marie & made our way to the start line. I saw the `sub 2 hrs bus` - Brian, James & Duncan, with David & Richard. I think they liked the last minute `celebrity` J
I moved to the back of the starting field & made final adjustments to the outfit – safety pins everywhere - & saw Catherine & Julia, I moved up with Wendy & Adrian - all Cove Joggers - we had an incredible 19 club runners listed to start Fleet plus two more (Louise & Susan –brand new Cove Joggers) were helping out....an amazing club turn especially with a two more Cove Joggers at Reading Half too. The gun went off & we slowly moved forward - my plan was to join up with the sub 2 bus. I wished Wendy & Adrian a `Merry` time & off we (myself & my inflatable Rudolf) went….. I knew the bus would be around the 9.00m/m pace but I didn`t know how far in front they started - luckily it was only 30 seconds or so. It was James`s first half marathon which is great. They didn`t know I was joining them but with everything considered I thought a sub 2 would be ok. It was good to help Brian with the pacing & help others achieve their goal. It was also a bit fun running in fancy dress – to me it gave something back to the crowds & importantly the marshals giving them something to smile & cheer about when they stood in the rain - top effort of the marshals again. I do have to say the crowds were very responsive esp. in Fleet Town centre towards the Santa suit so many shouts, high fives - it was great.
We saw so many friends from Frimley Lodge parkrun along the High Street which was marvellous. This second mile is downhill & with a bit of showboating this mile was a bit fast but ok. We settled the pace down during mile 3 but then it`s down the High Street again during mile 4 - the crowds seemed to get louder - amazing turn out despite the weather. Again missed my Brother who was marshalling on the Crossroads….I did later see him coming back up Fleet Rd – hope the lady who dislocated her knee is ok.
As we headed out of Fleet towards the A30 and along Minley Road we compared what flavoured gel we were going to have - it was like ordering starters off a menu !!! When we turned down Blackbushe Road - the half-way point came up. Duncan & James were doing really well, ok they said they had up & downs but that`s like the course - ups & downs. My ankle / shin tendon wasn`t really liking the downs that was for sue but as the course is not known for the hills it would be ok. We passed under the M3 & up to mile 9 & along to one of my favourite parts of the course (it`s on one of the Cove Joggers longer training runs). At this stage Brian had moved up with David & Richard, who were just slightly ahead & keeping really good pace. As we made our way along the course we counted down the mileage in parkruns terms.
At mile 10, just after the pub we had only one parkrun to go. They were still strong despite them thinking they were thinking the opposite. With 1 ½ miles to go we only had the length of Crookham Road to go – the crowds here hugely supportive, which was just great as it was slightly uphill especially towards the crossroads. I did leave the boys here as I wanted them to grab their own shouts for the finish. I did pick the pace up in this last mile, I got to the top & almost sprinted down the 400 metres or so to the finish. The organisors had tried their best but the finish strip was so muddy – good job we practised this type of finish at Frimley Lodge parkrun. I went through the finish & collected my medal from even more Frimley Lodge parkrunners – what a great feeling that is – thanks girls. I hung around to see David, James & Duncan in – they were all amazing. James had a hugely impressive first marathon (I did later note that he beat my 1st half marathon time....) so did Duncan. Later we found out so did Abby Fudge- amazing time Abby..now I wonder where she gets that speed from????. After a while we collected our bags, got dry & warm & went to the pub.
Splits - 8:25, 8:46, 8:53, 8:52, 8:46, 8:50, 8:50, 8:52, 8:50, 8:53, 8:41, 9:02, 7:58, 4:44 (0.27M @17:35)*
* Forgot to stop the Garmin....what a rookie. Chip time 01:55:07
Results - Power Of Ten Results
Going to the pub afterwards rounded the day off – it`s so good to relax, have something to eat & drink & catch up with all the day`s running news. I do have to say the Guinness did go down very, very nicely….Thanks to all - A great day. One of the best I have to say.
Some Cove Joggers / Frimley Lodge runners enjoying a couple of post race drinks..Cheers
(Thanks to Louise for the photo).
Next up – well I am jumping on the bench for a while till this shin / tendon sorts itself out so Cranleigh is out & I`ve put myself down for volunteering this Saturday at the parkrun. Rest will do me some good I think.