Bank holiday weekend and I’m up early on the Sunday morning to head on the 8.50am train ready for the Great Birmingham 10k, to get my ‘May’ race ticked off the list.
Having mostly packed the evening before, I ran around the house trying to find some sunscreen *I will not get burnt!* before grabbing my bagel and heading out. The train, being the first of the day, was full of excited runners and their cheer squads. Arriving at New Street I waited for a friend and started to get myself ready, belt on etc..
Once he arrived, we made our way to the race village, about a 10-minute walk away. I changed in to my race top for the day – I signed up with through my University’s Alumni team, lined up for the portaloos, dropped off bags, sunscreened up and made our way to the start line.
We ended up lining up next to the 60-minute pacer, so I said to myself I’ll stick with him for as long as I can. Being the hottest bank holiday weekend on record at 23/24 degrees I thought this may be a push but I’d see. If I needed to slow it down then I would.
With a warm-up (not that we needed it in the heat) to 90’s/00’s music we were ready to go. I pleasantly stuck with the 60-minute pacer, making little conversation to help keep myself paced and not going ahead too fast. With the heat and the humidity making it hard to get a breath of fresh air, my race plan was just to get around and finish safely.
1 mile passes and we’re heading out of the city through the streets of Digbeth, happily plodding with the pacer, it’s warm! Crossing the roundabout close to my old halls on Pershore Road, the atmosphere is great. A few side streets close to Cannon Hill, there’s plenty of community support. The best thing about this part was the water pistols from spectators on route! It provided a much needed quick cool down, as we got hotter and hotter.
The next was my favourite part of the course into and around Cannon Hill Park. When I was at University I attempted (and I mean attempted) running around the park with friends a couple of times, so it brought back some nice memories from 10 years ago as a fresher! The crowds were out around the park which provided a well-needed boost. The halfway point came, only 3.1 miles to go …
With the water station next, and still with the pacer, we stopped and took a moment to grab a water and take a sip. I regret stopping for water here as, as soon as I stopped the heat all of a sudden hit me. Now struggling I made my way up the short hill which left me out of breath. Another moment of appreciation to the spectators and one family has their hosepipe out, spraying runners as they went past. At the top of the hill, to my annoyance, I was hot and uncomfortable so I took a walk break, tipped some water on the back of my neck and saw that there was a run shower ahead.
This is what did it for me. The music on route was fantastic, the support was brilliant but the shower. That was the game-changer! Normally you end up with a little drizzle by the side of the road.. but this was a proper run-through shower. I even walked through to make the most of it before carrying on running again (at the 6k point).
By now the pacer was out-of-sight, my next aim, to reach the end before the 1.05 pacer. I knew we were on the home straight now as I said to myself ‘one foot in front of the other.’ 8k and we’re closer to the city centre, starting to recognise – I know I can do it.
This is where the uphills begin … boo! This part is the same as the half marathon back in October, it was hard then let alone now when I’m boiling hot and want it to be over. Taking a few walking breaks – my breathing, if you can call it that, was all over the place and ever since the drink stop at mile 3 I was really struggling to keep my rhythm.
I discarded my water bottle – tipping the final bit over my head – and made my way up the hill to the finish line. The streets were lined with crowds with many shouting our names out, it was a great feeling and even though I had nothing left I plodder up the hill and into the finish funnel.
Official time 1.03.44. I said at the beginning under 1.04 and I’d be happy so I was really pleased to see I’d made my plan B goal!
Through the funnel, bag collected and I found the nearest tree with shade and took, a deserved in my books, lie-down!
One of my favourite things about the Great Run series is how they add your name onto your bib. There’s nothing more encouraging that someone shouting your name in the final few meters. A nice medal and a lovely light blue top
I’ve noticed a few people mention the lack of water on route due to the weather being so hot. This didn’t affect me to be honest (and I do think there’s a level of responsibility the runner should take, for example bringing their own) and I took a bottle at the start, there was a crate next to bag drop, ran with this and then took another at the 5k point and kept this with me.
My bug-bear at the Great Birmingham Run (Half-Marathon) was the bag-drop. I think there’s a similar comment in my blogpost on the event. Busses are used to hold your bags, and you put your bag in the colour zone you’re starting in. These are manned the whole time. When picking up our bags at the end we walked onto the bus, picked it up and walked out. No one was monitoring us taking the correct/our own bags. I understand leaving bags is at the risk of the competitor though it still seemed irresponsible, or many even pointless, having people on bag duty.
To end the day, I devoured a burger before setting off a fire alarm in a pub by spraying deodorant … whoops… and swiftly leaving for another G&T!
Next up: Harborough Carnival of Running Half Marathon – June
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