I follow a lot of running blogs, and I quite like when the authors write a mile-by-mile critique of their races. So, here is my version, which will be spread over several entries for ease of reading and because I’m too lazy to sit here and type it all out at once.
It's the day of the Aviemore Half Marathon!
|Not my actual cat|
0550-0610: I woke up with Maia sitting on my chest, her nose pressed to mine which meant that her Elizabethan collar was over my face, clearly hoping for an early breakfast. I knew that I needed to be up by 6am if I wanted not to feel rushed, but I still hid under the blankets for another 20 minutes anyway, feeling nervous and wondering if I could come up with any acceptable excuses for not racing...lots of excuses, yes. Acceptable ones? No.
0610-0710: After a quick shower and my usual breakfast of porridge, I taped up my calf with my pink KT tape (and FINALLY got the perfect taping), put on my already-decided-on running outfit, grabbed my pre-packed rucksack (which contained several optional running tops and jackets, because a girl can never have too many clothes), and headed out the door. I managed to forget my bottle of water for the car and my change of clothes for after the race. I was now 10 minutes behind schedule and the thought crossed my mind that, if there were too many lorries on the A9, maybe I’d be so late that I’d miss the last bus to the start line. This made me feel panicked, but there also was a smidgen of relief that maybe I wouldn’t have to do this race after all. After all, getting held up by traffic on the A9 is a very acceptable excuse...However, as they say in Shetland, ‘Put your big girl panties on and deal with it.’ And I was indeed wearing my big pants, so I was all set.
|Perhaps not what the organisers had in mind|
0800-0845: I got to Aviemore in plenty of time. I parked outside of the town centre so that 1) I didn’t have to worry about not getting parked in town and 2) I could use the 15 minute walk into town as a bit of a warm-up. Registration went very quickly and smoothly, but I was a bit disconcerted by seeing that I am old enough to have been classified as a ‘Super Vet.’ The next age category up is ‘Vintage,’ which at least conjures up images of gorgeous classics.
|Lodges at Badaguish|
0845-0945: After a 10 minute bus ride, we had to walk 10 minutes through the forest to Badaguish, where the race was to begin. All of the women rushed to the indoor loos while the men, who seemed to be much more hardy (or maybe they just don’t worry so much about having to sit on an icy toilet seat), started queuing for the outside toilets. Even though the queues were long, there still was enough time for a cup of tea and a biscuit, warming-up exercises, a pre-race energy bar, and a glass of water. There also was enough time for another visit to the indoor loos where, after discussing clothing strategies with several women in the queue with me, I changed from my T-shirt to my running vest. It was absolutely freezing at that time of the morning, but I was going to be wearing my middle-weight running jacket and the last thing that I wanted was to realise that I was too hot half-way through the race.
|I'm at the back - waaaay at the back|
0945-1000: We made our way to the start line, where finishing times were helpfully provided so that you lined up with your own people, rather than hanging with the elite athletes and getting under their feet when the gun went off. I lined up with the sub-2:30 runners, of whom there were many; this was because no one wanted to admit that they actually should be starting in the last section, which was for sub-2:45 finishers.
I had a nice supportive chat with a woman who looked to be a bit older than me (which would still place her in the Super Vet category, of which I am sure she was grateful) and who did the AHM last year as well. We talked about training plans, injuries, and what we had forgotten to pack (she forgot her iPod, which I fortunately had checked and triple-checked was in my rucksack and, more importantly, had remembered to charge). I also talked with a Japanese woman who suddenly realised that she had forgotten to leave her rucksack with the transport van for taking back to the finish line; she rushed off to find the van and I didn’t see her again, but I'm sure that this would have been a nice warm-up jog for her and would have gotten the adrenaline going quite nicely. I started to regret my last drink of water and wondered if I had time for one more loo visit, but then the gun went and it was too late to do anything except start moving forward.
And my thoughts at that exact moment? 'OMG, I’m running a half-marathon!'
To be continued...