“I know I like starting at the back, but this is ridiculous.”
Such were my musings as I crossed the Yeovil half start line at 9.16 a.m, a race which had started as planned at 9.00 a.m.
A tale of woe
My tale of woe started by arriving in Yeovil more than 45 minutes later than planned (a combination of being slow getting out of the door and taking a wrong turn en-route). By this time it was a couple of minutes to 9, so without checking a map I just grabbed my belt and number and started running from the car park towards what looked like the town centre, figuring that it should be easy to find the start. Unfortunately, a marshal pointed me in the direction the runners were coming from rather than a short cut, which cost another 10 minutes.
I did see Carl running in the other direction though. In fact, I ended up seeing pretty much everyone running in the other direction. By the time I arrived at the start I was already panting like a dog, the start line furniture was being dismantled and I’d had numerous comments from spectator about not having put my clocks forward the night before. One chap did re-assure me by saying I’d still catch his missus though.
I took a couple of minutes to pin on the race number and try to get a bit settled but my race strategy had already been assigned to the bin. The original plan had been to run the first 4-5 miles steadily and then see if I could turn it up a bit. Now my main concern was that the marshals would start drifting away once everyone had been through and without their direction the route wouldn’t be clear, so there was no chance to take it easy until I’d caught the pack.
The first mile was down a hill, along a flat bit and then turn up the hill into the town centre again. Going up the hill I noticed my heart rate was already 171 (way too high) even though I wasn’t going that quickly, but I just had to just keep it going. It took nearly 2 miles to catch the back markers and from then on things got a bit easier….but not much. Getting the heart rate down was proving hard as we seemed to be forever going up and down slopes that were not that steep but seemed to go on for a while, particularly the long uphill drags. After 2.5 miles I’d just overtaken a group of ladies when I passed the same guy I’d met at the start (he’d taken a short cut across town) who yelled “See, I told you you’d catch my missus”.
Shoutout to Team TIP
One of the advantages of being at the back was seeing all of the ‘fun runners’, of which there were many. A particular mention must go to Team T.I.P who put out a great turnout. I think they were probably among those who joined this race after Bath had been cancelled (the entry limit was extended last minute to cater for people who switched from other recently cancelled events). I also got to overtake a giraffe, which was a first.
At the 6-mile drinks station I took a 30 second stop to sort out my watch strap which had come loose. This was a bit of a lucky result in that during the break the heart rate dropped and allowed me to settle down and get things back on a more even keel for the rest of the race. It was also helped by a change in scenery as we headed out into the country and headed for the Montacute estate, which was quite impressive. The village looked nice too. This was at the far end of our run, so after running through the grounds the route turned and we started heading back to Yeovil.
Down, yet up?
At this point the undulations seemed to get a bit cheekier and it became quite hard work. It was quite a relief to arrive back at the edge of Yeovil and be able to look down to the town centre, although even then they still managed to find the odd uphill section to slide in. The last half a mile was really nice, as we were running between barriers down through the shopping precinct, with people lined 3 deep cheering all the way. Talk about a ‘wall of noise’. I was met at the end by Carl, who had just done a PB – on that course, no small achievement.
As a preparation for doing the marathon next month, this turned out to be a complete waste of time. I guess I learned that I need to be better prepared (as Carl pointed out, this is the third race in a row where I’ve either arrived late, arrived just in the nick of time or forgotten my running shoes). However, I did manage a few personal milestones:
- Biggest difference between gun time and personal timing: 15mins 59s ✅
- Lowest number of people who overtook me: 0 ✅
- 2nd highest number of people overtaken in a race: 727 ✅
- First time overtaking a? ✅
- First time beaten by Batman ✅, and
- First time beaten by Superman ✅ (as far as I’m aware)
- Most embarrassed I’ve felt in the first 2 miles of a race ✅
The T-Shirt was good though, being bright yellow enough to match the brightness of the orange shirt from last year’s Chippenham half.