For the 11 days running up to this event I have, on Doctors orders, not been allowed to do any running at all. I won’t go into the details too much other than to say, I had a swelling where you wouldn’t want one, enough said, so let’s move on. So instead of running I have covered many miles walking on footpaths and uneven ground managing upward of 50 miles per week, just to keep my legs in shape for the Imerys Half Marathon. And sitting on a bike saddle was not an option!
As I am in the middle of my Half Marathon Challenge (12 Half Marathons in a year, which has now been increased to 13 on the suggestion of Paul Middleton) swelling or no swelling I had to complete the Imerys Half to take me to a total of 7 completed so far.
I awoke to find a slight haze in the sky but in no time at all the sun had burnt this away and bright blue skies were the order of the day. Bright blue skies also meant HEAT, and my thermostatic control system is not too good with heat. Blue skies on a crisp winters morning is brilliant for running and for the potential for a PB, but a springtime heat wave just means I’ll probably dissolve like a Jelly baby left on a car dashboard. “Run to complete” I tell myself and grab a quick Muesli, yogurt topped with Blueberries for my breakfast.
8:15 am and my bag is all packed and Julie arrives to collect me for our pleasant drive up to St Austell along quiet roads to the race HQ at Cornwall College (off Tregonissey road). We arrive quite early so we have loads of time spare and are directed to a small car park about a two minute walk from the race HQ. We take our kit bags and post race flasks of coffee with us and head off to collect our race no’s and meet up with fellow TRC runners. If we thought we were early, DM was there even earlier than us due to child care drop off times. He wasn’t looking too bright either, it would appear that his choice of film viewing the previous night (Harry Potter) had given his daughter nightmares, so sleep was not high on her agenda. Oh how I miss having small children……NOT! I can do sleep deprivation quite easily for myself these days thank you.
A small selection of TRC runners gather. Debs who said last year she would never run this race again, was there with her son, then Mark MS arrived followed by “our Diane”, Stu and Beth, Wendy, Luke S, Mark T and Paul M. Somewhere in the gathering crowd was Phil S, but he kept a low profile. He can be seen in a post race photo though, as a “Thorn between two roses” in the massage area.
Time to check out the toilets. Julie informs me that there is no queue, so I take the short walk over to where I have the choice of a door marked “Ladies” where there are two cubicles for our usage but a slight queue is forming so I opt for the door with “Disabled” on it. On entering I find myself in what can only be described as a Tardis like room. It is huge, so huge that you could swing several cats in it maybe a dog as well. The room is clean, the sanitary ware is modern and there is plenty of toilet paper. My only disappointment is that the hand drier when activated, behaved like a hormonal teenager and really couldn’t be bothered to dry anyone’s hands. It let out the most pathetic puff of air, give me a “Dyson” turbo charged and on steroids variety any day.
Kit bag and Bag with Flasks in, dropped off at the well organised bag drop and it is time to consume my statutory two squares of Kendal Mint Cake before going outside and being cajoled into doing the pre race work out with some fitness teacher stood on a box gyrating. I never do a warm up, why am I starting now. The music is something I could jig around my handbag too, like I did in the 8o’s with large shoulder pads and sparkly disco gear. I may even be able to throw my arms in the air. Oh dear, I’ve been sucked into following the instructions and I’ve got legs and arms going all over the place. Thankfully I don’t injure myself or anybody else for that matter but I’m not sure that my pride is still intact? Will I have any energy left to actually run this race, only time will tell?
So, all the Marathon and Half marathon runners gather at the start line right outside the Race HQ. The sun is out and in just a TRC vest and shorts I’m already feeling the heat. Julie gave me some sunscreen for my shoulders and I have my “Cool dude” (well they would be on someone younger) sunglasses on and we are off.
The start involves two circuits around the college road system. It involves hills of the upwards inclination, oh and some speed humps as well, before we are directed left and out onto a grass and lumpy gravel footpath. This slows everything down to walking pace due to its width, but not for too long.
At the end of this path we turn right along a road heading for an area on the map called Scredda and then it is onto the clay trails. We have only covered about two miles and my legs feel like they are stuffed with lead. My temperature gauge is flickering at just below danger level and I’ve got another 11 hilly miles to go yet.
I am unable to really explain the route of this race for you, as we go up and down Imerys clay trails sometimes with open views other times just the white sand and crushed granite under my feet to look at. The one consistent is the sun and lack of shade. I have my security hanky at the ready for the first water station, where I don’t bother with drinking anything, I just immerse said hanky in cup of water then wrap that around my neck before pouring what is left in the cup over my head. What with my dragged back hair in a “Telly Tubbies” style, water dripping down my face and a shocking shade of Scarlet in facial colouring, I’m hardly likely to be talent spotted for a front cover photo shoot of “Vogue” today, that’s for sure. “Farmers weekly” at a push, maybe?????
The first 5 miles I seem to be running with, ahead of or just behind the same two women, but I am finding that I am having to walk many of the hills, something I usually do as a last resort and soon they go ahead and I only see them again at the finish. One male of a portly build steams pass me and I wonder to myself if he has any idea what is in store. I decide that I will see this male again and that will be as I overtake him due to him having overcooked it (I was right and I think I passed him at about mile 9 when the heat was affecting him more than it was me) Live and learn!
I heard the first Cuckoo of the year; I saw milky blue lakes, and hill tops that looked like mini Alps with a covering of snow on (white sand on the top of quarry excavations). We had views out over the surrounding countryside with “Kingsley Village” being visible at one point. And the sofa that had been abandoned at the side of one track last year was still there but looked as if some sort of vulture type creature had stripped it down to its bare bones.
We had plenty of water stations where energy drink, water and sponges were on offer. This meant I had to be careful which one I dunked my hanky into as I don’t think Energy drink makes for a good face wipe, or coolant.
As I approached mile 10ish I was keen to make sure I didn’t repeat last year’s terrible mistake, and that was to take a wrong turn along with about 20 other runners meaning both myself and the other 19 ran an extra mile and my race time was ruined. Thankfully this year a friendly face from St Austell running club, who encouraged me on my way, made sure I stayed on the straight and narrow, up another hill and my error was not repeated. Phew!
The last 2 miles arrived none too soon and back onto Tarmac we were directed. My feet felt sore as all the paths/trails had been dry and compacted and my ankles felt they had taken a battering. I was running in new trail shoes which I had only done one 9 mile run in before, but I had no blisters thank goodness. On checking my Garmin I knew I would not finish in under 2hrs which a month or so ago I had hoped to do, but at least I knew I would be able to cross the finish line very soon.
Back down the narrow foot path that we had run along at the start of this race and then only half a lap of the college road system was required, all of which was down hill before the final 50m sprint to the finish line. The man on the microphone announces my arrival and I try to give a smile and a wave to the nice people who are cheering me in.
I cross the line 22nd lady and 5th Old Croc, manage to remain standing then grab two cups of energy drink and one of water that are on offer for us runners. My internals feel like they are suffering a serious drought where as my externals look as if they have come through a monsoon. After consuming the cups of liquid I go off to find a shower!
Last year we had lovely showers to use so I had brought a change of clothes and all my shower paraphernalia. “Excuse me please” I say to one of the helpers/staff members at the college, “which way is it to the showers?” “There isn’t any” is the reply I receive. Ahhhhhhhhhh! And unlike the Saltash Half there isn’t the option of a leisure centre right next door. The only option is to sit in the sun and dry off. I look around the race HQ first and see that there are tables galore where you can get a free massage, covered with nice soft towels so I decide to go and lie on one of them and hopefully don’t leave too much of my sweat behind. Maybe a quick massage will calm my angst.
Bl—dy hell I’m not sure whether I was in heaven or hell whilst the two students manhandled my poor aching legs. There were moments of agony but once they started to use ice to rub over legs it became almost pleasurable. I know they say “No pain no gain” but does this apply to a sports massage? Only tomorrow will answer this question.
So, once Julie had crossed the finish line and had her sports massage we sat outside in the sun to dry off, supping our flasks of coffee and indulging in some carrot cake I had made. We were waiting for the Marathon runners to come in.
First for TRC was Luke and he didn’t even look out of breath and in no time at all, the first lady appeared over the brow of the hill, OMG it’s a TRC vest and it’s not Isobel, it’s our very own Wendy looking as cool as a cucumber with a huge smile on her face. Her first marathon and she had won it by a mile as well. Is there no stopping this woman?
This was a hard run for every competitor due to the sunshine and heat, but it does give you some great views if you are able to lift your head to take them in. It is run mainly on trails some of which are not usually accessible to the public. The marshalling was excellent but I do believe for the Marathon runners it was a lonely race once they branched off at mile 8.
So all in all:
- Will I run this race again…….maybe as although at mile 8 I could have cried and given up, it is still one of my favourite races? Let’s see how the body is coping this time next year.
- Parking…… plentiful and free.
- Toilets……great but we really could have done with access to the college showers.
- Marshalling….brilliant and all very friendly.
- Water Stations…. well manned and offered energy drink as well as water and sponges.
- Goody bag………..Jute bag (I have a few of these now), a bottle of local Beer which will please the “husband who plays golf”, a Pen and a very small muffin.