Wokingham Half Marathon
The fleeting joy that emerged at Wednesday’s club run - further to Roger’s exclamation that I had won a bottle of wine - was immediately stifled by the realisation that I had to write a blog on a race that took part back in February; needless to say, my memory is not what it used to be.
Anyway, I digress before I’ve even started. So let’s talk Wokingham….!
Being the first race since injury, my expectations were as low as my perceived fitness and consequently I was actually quite looking forward to it; treating it as a tester for the later White Horse Half. Having never run it before I was enticed by the tales from the Eynsham Roadrunner stalwarts about the race being fast and flat. Nobody mentioned the two overpasses and the uphill finish but, as we have already discovered, I am not one to judge on recollection of races or routes.
It was “a glorious day for running” according to the Chairman’s results bulletin. I take his word for this; of course, I can’t remember. On arrival in said Chairman’s environmentally-sound new car (that’s not relevant but good to know that we minimised our ecological footprint on a longer than usual journey to a club champs racing fixture), I had expected the turnout of Eynsham Roadrunners to be below average due to the lack of pre-race conversation I had encountered in the build up to the race. I even toyed with the idea of playing my joker. That decision was immediately revoked on sight of at least 6 or 7 of Eynsham’s elite limbering up in the field by the race start. Even the men’s captain, having declared himself unfit to run just 24 hours before, bounded in with more enthusiasm than Zebedee from The Magic Roundabout (perhaps one for the older readers). Joker firmly locked up for another day.
Despite having heard very little about the Wokingham Half Marathon, it soon became clear that this was a popular race with participants numbering into the thousands rather than the hundreds. Having received a Wokingham Half T-Shirt pre-race and a lower race number than all the other ERRs, I momentarily feared I had been mistaken for one of the elite runners in some kind of name mix-up and that I would be ushered to the front row at the start line. Memories of having Mo Farah in my sights in ‘starting pen 1’ of the London Marathon heat fest last year came flooding back. I digress…
My “name mix-up” theory was quashed by the realisation that this was no Hornton 6 - the megaphone announcements, refreshment tents, baggage drop area and chip timing technology indicated that this was a slightly more well-attended and – dare I say it - professional affair. No V40 and V50 Bob Stoney’s here.
After all the usual pre-race nervous banter we were under starters orders and we were off. I started quite relaxed and wasn’t put off by the fact there was quite a lot of barging and colliding at the beginning of the race. After all, this was just a tester for the White Horse Half. I think it was this uncharacteristic lack of pressure that I put on myself that resulted in me feeling much better than expected mid-race. And never wishing to capitalise on the sufferings of fellow runners, I must confess to being spurred on by a few of the aforementioned ERR elites within my sights. A very rare occurrence after 7 or 8 miles. I pushed on….
By mile 10 my lack of training started to punish me, but I was desperate to hold on as I was on PB pace. Then it was just a case of mind over matter and for once the mind won out. I crossed the line with a very unexpected PB, which made it all the more rewarding. However, I soon realised that it’s all relative; as I was punching the air with delight, one of the Eynsham A listers was throwing his number away in disgust at his performance, having done virtually the same time as me.
I wasn’t the only one to have a good day. Even better results for Kate Allred and Katherine Bates who both won age category club records and PBs for Tom Baker and Colin Hancox. A great race, a great group of people and a great turnout. I should have played the joker after all……...