Yesterday was the Silverstone Half Marathon. For all those who want the facts, not the waffle, and can't be bothered to read down, I completed it, in 2 hours, 30 minutes and some seconds, the number of which escapes me at the moment.
Well there were a lot of nerves, not entirely sure why as physically it ought to have been something I could do OK given my performance on the last two Sundays, but on the day I would be proving myself in public, and in the company of other runners for the charity. Just not something I've ever done before! Tasks like attaching the race number to my running vest with four safety pins, and attaching the race chip to my running shoes, were nigh on impossible when you combined my usual uncoordination with my shaking hands, and I was still attending to all these things when my parents arrived, who were coming to give support and take me to the track.
A well timed call from fellow rhino runner Emma alerted me to the fact that queues were already forming on the A43 and that if I hadn't left, to leave now. So, we did, with perhaps a little more panic. Still, we made it to the circuit in good time and fortuitously bumped into the Save the Rhino team (you'd have thought the three huge lifelike but dismembered costumes in the car park would have given it away …).
I began the race in the company of Becki, running in her home made imrpovised rhino costume. Her website is here: http://beckisavestherhinos.wordpress.com - her fundraising efforts are herculean compared to mine, so anyone who is thinking of sponsoring me still, please do (you know where to go, it's http://www.justgiving.com/neilrichards1), but please check her efforts out too and see if you can squeeze a little more at http://www.justgiving.com/beckisavestherhinos. And to cut a long story short, I ran the whole race in her company too. This helped so much - they always say (whoever "they" are) to run with company and to be comfortable enough to hold a conversation, again, something I'd never done.
It was actually a gorgeous day - have heard reports of some runners getting a little sunburnt. Certainly there was sun in the first mile or two, and then at intervals throughout, but when the sun went behind a cloud it was fine and a little breezy. It's not the most scenic of runs, with little in the way of milestones, apart from mile markers, but the race went quickly enough. Becki planned a walk at 7 miles, then 8, and I had no intention of talking her out of it but did say that I at least wanted to *try* and run the whole thing. In the end, I think we were both struggling by 11 miles but the realisation of the 12 mile marker round the corner gave us both a second wind knowing that there was no point walking by that stage, only a mile to go! So I think, despite both mentioning we had no problem whatsoever with stopping and walking if we had to, we both inadvertently made sure that each other ran the whole 13.1 miles.
And I think it was all bluff from Becki anyway as with a stunning sprint finish I was left a few seconds behind but I don't care and was delighted to finish after running the whole way. The time was about 11.5 minute mile pace, and in truth I think I'm a little faster. But I don't care about the time, and who's to say that if I had run at 10 or 10.5 minute mile pace that I wouldn't have had to stop and walk at some point? If I can run the London Marathon in or around 5 hours I'll be delighted.
Big thank you to my parents for coming down to watch and offer support - I'll sort out some pictures from the event to go up soon.