Truro Half Marathon 2013, report and results

Sunday 15th September

The weather forecast for the 15th September is dreadful, gale force winds and torrential rain. Text arrives on my phone from Julie telling me the rain won’t arrive until after the race and wishing me and “daughter who now runs” good luck. We’ll need plenty of that. She has come back from 4 months of killing fish, collecting bug samples and drinking beer in Alaska. I’m lead to believe this all part of her PhD studies.

So off to bed I go. Tomorrow is race day and I need a nice long sleep. Nice long sleep when you are “Menopausal Woman”, that’s a laugh. I toss and turn, the tropic’s are back once again and then the alarm sounds at 6:30am. This is so I can have some breakfast, allowing time for it to settle pre race. I look out of my bedroom window and there is the most beautiful sunrise/red sky in the morning. This means one thing only…..Rain is on the way. Bu—ar.

Portentous skies above Truro, sunrise
Portentous skies above Truro

Toast and tea eaten, running kit on and “Sidney Skoda” can stay on the drive, as today I can walk to the race. No parking issues or fees and as I work in town, no toilet issues either. I can use my employer’s clean and spacious facilities. I  signed the “Secrets Acts” many many years ago, so this means I cannot disclose the details of Her Majesty’s toilets. This could be my very first race report without these facts………plenty of loo roll though!

Race HQ is in a marquee on Lemon Quay and I do believe it is a tad smaller than last year’s model. No seats for us aged runners to sit on at the end though. There is a hive of activity, with Julie, Claire and Alison dishing out the Technical Tee’s and race numbers to the pre registered entrants. Oh and I have guessed the colour correctly. This year we will be sporting “Goundry Red” a fine choice I might add!! Daughter registers, collects her Technical Tee and I note that hers looks a better size than my option of a small one. Time to attempt a swap and hey presto in seconds I am the proud owner of a Ladies Medium. Wherever did I get the idea I was a small size? My Race number today is “2”.

The number “2” places a heavy burden on my shoulders. I can see other race participants looking at me with a frown across their forehead. They are thinking, “She ain’t no elite runner” and they are quite right, just a very early entrant to this Truro Half Marathon. Claire joins me and she is sporting race number “1”. Time for a photo I think, first the 1 & 2 pose, followed by the 2 & 1 pose. I don’t think we will be standing on any podium after the race in that order though.

Hana and Claire
Hana and Claire – Thing One and Thing Two, according to Katie!

Daughter and I take a wander around and I grab a few photo’s of TRC members looking busy doing whatever it is they have been allocated to do. I spot Nick, today he is not sporting the “sexy black bin liner look”. No, this year he has opted for the “Shabby fisherman chic” and I have to say it suits him. Not sure if it will make the cat walks of Milan this year, but then again I’m no Anna Wintour.

I then spot a couple in my sort of age category who are wearing running vests with Salisbury on them. We have brief chat and they are on holiday in Cornwall in order to run this race. I did warn them, that this Half was going to be hilly but they seem quite happy with that, so I wish them good luck before daughter and I take a walk around the town to loosen our legs. Mine feel like lead as does daughters. I inform her that today I was going to be a horrid mother and if she was unable to keep up with me, I would leave her behind. This is a GP race after all but I must admit I did feel horrid doing this, every other Half we have entered together, plus our one marathon, we have run side by side, gaining a PB in Warwick.

So the time arrives to muster at the start line. It isn’t at all congested, in fact there is space between everyone. No one is invading my space, or passing wind. Oh how civilised are we in this beautiful Cathedral city?

Our Diane, the race director, stands on the podium, microphone in hand. Is she going to give us a rendition of some inspirational song. Maybe the national anthem or as it is Sunday maybe a short sermon. No it’s the race briefing and sadly I can hear none of it. Well I did hear the word “Left” then 1,2,3……OMG we are off, thank god the Garmin was ready and waiting.

We head off along green street and then a figure of eight loop around the cobbled street of Truro. Due to the 9am start and the shops not being open, there aren’t many supporters, but that isn’t a problem, getting my legs going is the problem. Daughter is already slightly behind me, but I must crack on. I tell myself to maintain a steady but not too fast pace. OK when I say fast, that means 7.5 minute mile pace,  which I cannot maintain unless running downhill. This is going to be hilly and maybe I should try this negative split thing people keep mentioning?

Out of town we head, firstly under the Tesco’s subway, then along the river footpath onto Newham Road, before our first short uphill at Gas Hill and onto the disused railway line. Ian from ECH runs along side and has a few words, but it only takes seconds for his much faster legs to propel him into the distance. My legs feel like lead and my lungs feel tight.

Izzy and Gordon heading out at Newham
Izzy and Gordon heading out at Newham

There isn’t much mud, there is no pushing and shoving in an effort to overtake and there is a definite lack of “Ladies who like to talk and run in threes” to try to run around. I think the published  race profile has scared quite a few regulars away as has the weather forecast. Perhaps I should have done the same and stayed at home with a lazy breakfast. Too late now!

The weather is being kind. No rain, just cloud with the occasional brightness, but I am sweating like a PIG. Security hanky is having to go into overtime. This is either a major hot flush, or my 48hr cold thing I had earlier in the week, has come back with a vengeance. Oh no it isn’t, I have just come out of the day dream I had slipped into and I’m now running up a very steep incline past the butchers at Higher Callenick.

There is sweat running from every part of my face, it feels like I’m dissolving. Maybe that small Technical Tee will be required at the finish line after all?

The road now levels out, well not exactly levels, but become a gradual uphill gradient to a T-junction at Porth Kea, where I once had to flag down a farmer on his tractor and purloin some baler twine off him to tie up a dog that had attached itself to myself and “Husband who plays golf”, and refused to go home. Now before you start calling the RSPCA, we did phone the telephone number on the dog’s tag and tell the owner to come and fetch the bl—dy thing.

Sorry I digress. So out towards Kea school we run, up that gradual hill where it then suddenly lets the legs relax with a downhill section. But don’t be fooled, what goes down, then goes straight back up. Up the cycle/footpath to the Old Coach Road at Playing Place, where a few locals are out to cheer us on.

I’m not feeling comfortable at all. I feel nauseous and incapable of trying to chase down any of the runners I would like to try and get ahead of. I try an increase in speed, but so does the reflex muscles in my stomach, so I start to run different options through my head.

  1. Give up?  Very tempting, a few seconds pass by and my heart and brain tells me that this is no option. Man up woman!
  2. Walk. I’ll save that option for the hills.
  3. Just carry on as I am and see what happens. This seems the most sensible idea, so onward we go.

Claire now runs along side me. We are in Halvarras Road and heading for the main road out to Feock, the “Sandbanks” of the Truro Falmouth area.

We have a brief chat, she asks how I am, and I tell her I feel dreadful, but hopefully after about 5 miles of climbing, the next section will allow us to get into our stride.

From somewhere I find a burst of energy, and pick up a little speed as we head out past the “Punch Bowl and Ladle” public house and I’m not even tempted to take a detour in order to sample their ales. I must be ill.

Next we turn left and head towards Trelissick and the King Harry Ferry. This is flattish to start with, then a slight incline before we are directed left onto a footpath and across a field so we avoid the narrow part of the road, and prevent any traffic arguments. This path then drops down a couple of steps into a lay by whereupon we turn left down a muddy track, which is part of the “Route 3” cycle route.

The track is firstly level and well maintained but then it plummets very steeply down a wooded path. I overtake a couple I have been playing cat and mouse with. They are quicker on the up hills and I pass them on the flat/down hills and so it goes on. We reach the bottom of this steep section and then it goes up a very rutted section, the couple (much younger than myself) go past once again.

Time to turn left for a change, (I’m being sarcastic) back on Tarmac along a pretty, very quiet country lane. OMG we now actually turn right. Right along a lane that on a car’s sat nav would tell you it is a road. A road passable by cars and vans, but I know differently. The road takes you to some buildings then it turns into another muddy track where my “Husband who plays golf” and I, spent a couple hours the previous weekend, cutting back brambles and stinging nettle, so all you runners could pass pain free. Did I hear right, that one of our lead runners was stung by a bee during this race? Sorry I couldn’t prevent that sting!

The track we are now on was once a road, a road adopted by the council, but over the years the passage of dairy cows and agricultural vehicles has turned it into a Byway, only passable on foot, cycle or horseback. The heavy rain over the last year has made some improvements, by washing all the shite away. This year is the first year I have actually seen Tarmac visible. So upwards we all run, apart from me, who has resorted to walking. My lungs and stomach are not happy. That young couple pass once again, and I hear the male say, “I said we were quicker on the hills”. “Yes and probably half my age” I want to shout at them, but I don’t. I just plod on. Resolute in the fact that this half will not produce a PB, but if I can get in under 2hrs I’ll be happy.

As we exit this byway alongside Higher Lanner Farm, we continue upwards for about 200m then turn left back towards Porth Kea. Passing the scene of a murder we had a couple or so years ago. Then it’s oh guess what….yes you’ve got it, left again along the back lanes to Playing Place. I’m tired, so tired. I’ve given up all hope of catching anyone I usually beat that has overtaken me, I just want to get to the finish line. I hear someone shout, “Come on Hana” I can’t even smile, I pull a grimace, wipe the sweat from my brow, turn right and right again and I’m heading back towards Truro, back along Old Coach Road and a long down hill section. Yes finally long and down hill in the same sentence.

Down past Kea School, down to Callenick, up a short nip, then back along the disused railway line. My legs are not very coordinated. My knees keep knocking into each other, I must look like one of the street drinkers that often frequent this area, hopefully I smell slightly better, well maybe not today, but I can be excused, as I’ve exerted a huge amount of effort.

Newham Road appears, less than 1 mile to go. I look at my watch for the time, this is the first time I’ve done this during the race. I have about 10 minutes to cover this distance to make it under 2 hrs across the finish line. So I kick myself up the arse. Concentrate and blank out the discomfort I am in. Garras Wharf car park appears, I follow the path, down under the subway, dare not look over my shoulder and then attempt a sort of sprint to the finish line. I can hear cheers from the crowd, but have no idea who is there. Line crossed 1hr 56:34.

So it was hell for me today. I had run most of the route the week before pain free and at a comfortable pace, but today was not my day. Having said that, I achieved what I had hoped to do, and that was to cross the line in under 2hrs. it was good to have a half marathon that really tested you. Tested you physically and mentally. I felt it was harder than the Imerys half, but maybe if I ran it again next week, it would feel easier. We all have good days and bad when competing in sport, and this was on a par with the Mag 7 for me. So that means I’ll have to run it again next year.

Truro ladies take third team prize
Truro ladies take third team prize (l-r: Wendy, Hana, Izzy, er Andy!, Jo and Sandie)

“Daughter who now runs” crossed the finish line after me, but then again she hasn’t been able to train whilst based in a part of Alaska where there are only 9 miles of road.  Plus, whilst out on a run, should you come across a bear that wants to share the road with you, it means you have to turn around and make a hasty retreat to safety.

So all in all:

  • The race HQ… a marquee on Lemon Quay, close to car parks, toilets and cafés.
  • Race marshals. Fantastic…slightly biased as it is my club’s event, but they were all stood in the right place, very cheerful and encouraging even if I did growl at them, and I could not get lost. Mind you how someone apparently found their way into Tesco’s car park, god only knows.
  • Goodie Bag……fab. Technical T, bottle of “Betty Stoggs”, banana, Flapjack, bottle of water, Nik Wax samples, Zero tab samples, and a pasty.
  • To help cheer me up after a long hard race, I even managed to come home with two bottles of wine. One for being a member of the ladies 3rd team prize winners and one for being in the right place at the right time….that’s being stood next to a runner who is Tee Total, and has far too many bottles of wine at home. Not any more, she doesn’t!
  • Will I run this race again….yes. It took me out of my comfort zone and  tested my stamina, which obviously needs improving. Oh to be 21 again.

10 out of 10 TRC!

Hana

Gary in the baggage van in the pouring rain
Old wives’ tale or accurate weather forecasting from Hana?! Bet Gary was glad he was on baggage duty…

Results