Half Marathon today and yes, I failed to finish.
Perfect pre-run planning. Slept reasonably well. Had all laid out the night before. Rocked up at Clontarf with breakfast supplies and lots of water on board.
Yes, it was hot-by Irish standards, very hot. But I could have managed that.
I lined up at with the third wave-those looking for a two hour half. Looking around me, I`d plainly chosen the right group. Not a garmin in sight and lots of out of shape types.
There were lots of capri leggings too. Given the heat, that was a tad too much clothing. There was even a man in a lycra one piece, like a shortie wetsuit. Lord only knows how he intended to peel it off at the end of the run-I just hope he had help.
Oh, and a girl with a camel pack. You know, those back packs filled with water with tubing attached for easier hydration. Yep, it was hot but hey, she wasn`t exactly running a marathon in the Sahara.
Anyway, the assortment convinced me that this was a place for me. No tearing off with garmin clad sweaty men in the second wave.
Ambled off down the path after the two hour pacers. Over the delightful wooden bridge and on to the beach.
And there, running on soft sand, trouble struck. The back niggle I`d been harbouring developed into a persistent screech. I slowed, it didn`t help. I tried to catch up but it made it much worse. Everything else felt fine. Just the persistent back pain. I debated over and back. Sometimes I can out run that niggle. Went on for another kilometre or so tossing the facts around in my head. Meanwhile the two mile pacer balloons were heading off into the blue. If I kept going, I`d make a lousy time. I`d also risk making the back much worse.
I bailed out.
Once I`d made the decision I actually began to enjoy myself. The beach rambled off in one direction towards Howth. And in the opposite direction there were fabulous views of Poolbeg lighthouse and the chimneys at Ringsend. I contented myself with a nice stroll on the beach, enjoying the sunshine and taking lots of pics.
The Clontarf half bills itself as the flattest half in Ireland. It must be, as it`s run all along beach and promenade along the Dublin coastline. On a day like today, it`s a glorious sight. Two thousand people winding their way like multi-coloured threads around the bay for over ten kilometres and then back again.
Of course, the lead pack were returning just as the some of the third wave were at the five kilometre point. I honestly think some of those third wavers deserve more kudos for doing such runs as I could see they were suffering more than the elite crew. Perhaps, more to the point, some third wavers really shouldn`t be there at all. A lot of them were in no condition to run that far and I wondered if they were doing their bodies more harm than good.
Anyway, I`m one of that lot now. Last year my fastest half marathon was in two hours eight minutes. Perhaps that then will always be my personal best for that distance. I`d felt fit enough then to run with the second wave. But maybe that`s as fit as I`ll ever get.
I`m clear about a couple of things:
Gotta sort the back out.
Gotta do more cross training.
Gotta keep trying.
Today, as I walked beside the glittering sea and enjoyed the warmth of the sun I reminded myself why I run.
I am not trying to break records. I am not trying to beat anyone else. I am not trying to beat my own previous times. I run to stay healthy, sane and fit and to have fun.
I hope I have more races left in me. But mostly, I hope to keep enjoying running.
Or else I`ll have to change the name of this blog…