Colchester Half Marathon – Race Review by Karen LS

The alarm went off at 6am (in hindsight, should have set it earlier!) couldn’t quite manage my normal breakfast of porridge or my cappuccino without gagging (you know how I like to share!!) Children woken up and dressed, breakfasted and we were on the road in our camper van by 6.45am ready to join the convey of orange waiting for us at Halfords.

The weather looked bleak and as we were heading to Colchester those dark clouds opened up on us and the forecast rain fell………we were fortunate this year though in that we didn’t have to park at the industrial estate as we had to the previous year so we were able to park behind the stadium…..result!!! We all piled into the facilities for the obligatory toilet run and collection of numbers. Greeting hugs were being circulated and nerves were fraying slightly as we were pinning our numbers to our race tops. One of the organisers kept booming about us waiting outside……..seriously?? Had he seen the weather……no way and we stood our ground, while debating whether we needed our jackets or not.

co1Rebecca and Richard had come prepared with their bin bags on keeping them warmer. I was stressing out as hadn’t fuelled properly……Keith was full of reassurance about everything being ok. Some of us started getting our satellites up and running on our watches, then before we knew it, it was time to brave the elements and give our supporters hugs and off we went!!! OMG it was horrible out there and of course I whined about the rain until we were all standing together and having a great laugh as us Flyers do……Hugh dissed my orange nail varnish refusing to acknowledge it to being the same as Maggie’s so he got a friendly, yes friendly slap; Anna started doing some fancy boogie moves to warm up and then Keith lent back and head butted Vicky – all taken in good spirits!

The countdown began and we were off in the rain…….taking it gently as we left the grounds and chatting constantly and joking and messing about. There was a fair few of us in our little group initially joking about and preparing for North Hill which is early on in the race……I had promised Keith I would get him up the hill, and just before were all the jokes about hills being good for the bum…….so it started with a song….(of course, you know I like a sing-a-long in a race even though I can’t sing) so I started “It’s all about the butt, yes the butt, just the butt” and we had a bit of banter about Keith’s butt…..until the hill was upon us and then silence! LBD was on our minds heading up that beast and I will admit I felt good getting up the hill, saying “Come on Keith! LBD” we got to the top and I would say it took me the next 10 miles to recover! Everyone was calling out checking all was ok with everyone. I couldn’t answer as was concentrating on breathing and moving. Haven’t done hills for since Christmas after being injured and didn’t want to risk not being able to race……now I know I need to get back to my effort sessions.

Next song on our agenda had to be “Singing in the rain” a short rendition rang out much co3to the amusement of fellow racers. I ran a short part with Sam but knew I was holding her back so just kept going and then Keith came back and stayed with me at my pace. This was when I strongly regretted not keeping my porridge down! Oh well, first attack on the jelly babies begins…….as does Keith being accosted by an old friend, running and hugging at the same time…..multi-tasking and impressive eh? Keith kept me distracted by talking and eventually my breathing calmed down, and we were both chatting at a comfortable pace. It kept raining and we were taking a keen interest in some of our fellow runners. One in particular stood out, a man kept pulling out to the side and squatting for some time and doing some sort of stretches, then as time went by we would see him in front of us and say “Look who it is!” or we would nod or point him out as discreetly as possible. We were not the only runners to notice, as he became lots of runners entertainment throughout the race!! These little things keep us going do they not?

As we came through the industrial site, we saw an orange umbrella and a big orange banner looming and both Keith and I got really excited to see some familiar faces as to be honest the crowd was lacking in encouragement in places…….Keith would shout out “Come on spectators, where are your cheers!” It was hilarious  but when we saw Lin and Val it really perked us up hearing their cheers and smiles and Lin singing out to us……it was fab and so appreciated and that kept us going again……..from 8 miles Keith’s hand would go out and I would low 5 in appreciation that we had hit another milestone closer to our medal! We were heading round a corner when I heard “Karen! Karen!” I looked around to see an old friend from primary school came running towards me, so I also mulit-tasked and hugged while running…….another boost on our half marathon journey.

co4It was from here on the wind hit us, quite inconsiderate really considering we were wet and now getting cold and fighting that wind! Once we hit 10 miles it was a blooming long stretch and Keith was shouting “Only a parkrun Karen!” We were doing a relay with some fitness club which they found amusing each time we passed them or they passed us. The wind hit again and we all struggled pushing though it……someone made a comment about “That’s all we need” so I started singing “All you need is love” and Keith joined in……funnily enough nobody else did. Then someone said it was such a long road…..so I started singing “We’re on the road to nowhere…..” Keith joined in again but strangely nobody else did. We kept plodding on and I saw the stadium and got really excited as did Keith, then in front of us I spotted a Flyer! I shouted to Keith but he couldn’t see from where he was and then I said “It’s Vicky” so we started to catch her up. We caught up and then that seemed to give her the encouragement to keep going and I asked Keith when we were starting our sprint finish, Keith said to wait to see where the finish line was and then we could decide.

However that decision was taken away as we turned the corner we saw Lin and Val shouting our names and that kind of did it really. We all took off in Flyer fashion and I saw more of our orange army to the left shouting out for us, so we all dug in deep and pushed hard, I started welling up feeling so emotional as I sprinted past other runners and hearing the cheers from the crowd…..such an amazing feeling and then suddenly two blue runners pipped me to the finish! Oh well, I still felt amazing as I finished. I had conquered some demons from last year and although it wasn’t a pb for me, it was still amazing to have achieved 13.1 miles on no fuel just jelly babies. I now find I can’t run alone, I love the company around me and a chat……..and Keith is an amazing run buddy who really looks out for whoever he runs with……..thanks run buddy and thank you to all the Flyers who we run with……..also a huge thank you to the supporting crew as the boost you give us runners is incredible! I finished the race and turned around to be greeted by the orange hoodie who was my husband. And oh my, what a medal!!! So worth it.

Well done to all Colchester Half runners in the Flyers, awesome is all I can say. Same time next year I believe. We all had to have an obligatory post mortem at the pub where we all enjoyed Maggie and Pete’s hospitality.

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