Bath Half Full … But Houston We Have A Problem
A big weekend in the world of KeithsMarathonDream, with my big fund-raising concert on Saturday evening meaning there was no way I could stay over before the Bath Half Marathon on Sunday. Unfortunately, the two words I normally associate with the (otherwise beautiful) city of Bath are “traffic nightmare”, and warned of the dangers of getting there too late to park, I was up at 5AM and only ten minutes behind schedule when leaving home at 5:40. A trouble-free journey to the Odd Down Park and Ride meant it was virtually deserted when I arrived with no buses yet running. But I was able to use the time well with a successful “comfort stop” (as they say “too much detail”, but it is key to a good run I feel) followed by a sleep in the car (hmmm – a c$%p and a nap!), and later a leisurely bus ride into town.
The weather forecast when I checked earlier in the week was wall to wall sun. The reality was cold and damp. I found the runners village, located at the “Recreation Ground”, home to the great rugby club, and was pleased to find the CLIC Sargent tent for a very welcome coffee, where we were hosted by (the lovely) RuBo and Kayley. Met both Becs and Gina (hope the names are correct) there from the earlier CLIC Sargent training day, and also bumped into relatively new work colleague Mal Cowton, an age group athlete of national renown, who is building up for first ever marathon in Barcelona.
I really didn’t know how I was going to run this. Phoebe from runningwithus had advised “marathon pace” but I’m still confused what that should be with my heart still telling me “break four hours” and my head saying “4:15 would be a great achievement”. My compromise was to try and get to 5:40 mins / km (about four hour pace) and see how it goes. It was, as expected, busy, with over 11,000 entrants, which means a slow start, which is, of course, a mixed blessing. On the plus side, it means you can’t go off too fast: On the minus side, it means you can’t go off too fast. But neither was it too slow and the first few kms were under six minutes, which is quicker than I often start at home. For what is probably the hilliest city this side of Rome, the course is flat, following the river, and just about everyone who knows it says something along the lines of “ahhhh Bath – I set my PB there 🙂 “.
After about three km, I started to speed up and according to Garmin, the mins per km was starting to fall. I knew what would happen. Heart was telling me try for a PB. This would involve getting below 5:26 mins per km. Head’s compromise was “keep it going and if we’re feeling good at 16km we’ll go for it”. So that’s what we did and at 16km we were still felling good. At this point we increased the cadence (hmmm – staring to sound quite technical) and went for it. At about 18km a young lady glided past, “can we go with that” said head. “Yeah go with it” said body, and go with it we did.
At this point I should mention that, for the first time, I had “Keith” emblazened on my running vest. What a difference this makes – couldn’t believe how many “COME ON KEITH”s I received. But the poor young lady. She must have thought she’d changed her name, but I think she soon realised she was being stalked. Then I went past her and I think she stalked me. And on the final straight she went past and finished about ten yards in front. At the end I sought her out and thanked her and she thanked me back – I love moments like that – as I write I’m starting to “well up”. For the record here is the Garmin log – 1:53:14 – ahhhh Bath – I set my PB there :-).
Huge thanks to RuBo and Kayley from CLIC Sargent and their team. And to everyone who shouted “COME ON KEITH” along the way, not just CLIC Sargent supporters, but all the other good causes, and lots of others too. And then the “traffic nightmare”, an hour wait in the cold and rain before the (three) Park and Ride bus(es) came along. You should have seen the length of the queue! But like good Brits we dealt with it stoically.
So what’s the problem? The marathon dream was supposed to be a one off thing – something I need to get out of my system – something I can draw a line under after the Great North Run in September. After Bournemouth I was on my knees. But I REALLY enjoyed the Bath Half. Could I yet become a serial runner? That really wasn’t the plan.
Bath Half full, or Bath Half empty?