While the Tough Gaffs team normally eschews normal road races*, there has been a move to introduce some into our repertoire. Fiona has done a few and I while I had signed up for it, I skipped the Yeovil Half earlier this year due to complete lack of training. So when we heard about the inaugural Ealing Half Marathon it seemed like a great idea. Medal – check, start line a mere 10 minute bimble from the front door – check. Not very hilly – check (wel’ll come back to that later). So signed up we did, training plans were downloaded and then duly ignored.
Then before we knew it, it was here.
Now running something like Tough Guy or Total Warrior without training is, while not advisable, possible. You get a bit of breather while you tackle the obstacles or stop to help other contestants and if all else fails you can trudge. Basically being stubborn will get you round, not in a good time but you’ll finish. A half marathon has no such distractions and shouldn’t really be attempted without a decent level of training being put in before hand. Obviously not training wasn’t going to stop us competing. Admittedly Fiona had done some including a ten mile run but that was a few weeks ago, me and Ray not so much**.
Saturday evening was spent carb loading and arguing over the rules of Mah Jog, followed by an early night, an earlyish morning and a wander down to the start line for the 9.15 kick off on a lovely sunny if slightly chilly day.
The first three miles were fairly uneventful, indeed we had to hold ourselves back from overtaking the nice ladies with the pink 2.30 ballon markers. Mile 4 was mainly downhill and we put in our fastest mile. After that is was figuratively downhill but actual up a lot of hills. When we were discussing doing a half in September we decided against the Bristol Half as Bristol’s a bit hilly and Ealing was flat. I even asked the race organisers, who said “nothing mountainous and the last two miles are lovely and flat”.Fiona took a space by the 2.15 runners while rather optimistically, Ray and I lined up by the 2.30 minute marker. The start was delayed by 20 minutes due to an incident on the course but just after 9.34 off we trotted. It took a good 10 minutes to get to the start line due to the popularity of the race, with well over 4,500 due to take taking part***.
You may recall from reports of Total Warrior, we’re not great fans of up. There also seemed to be some conspiracy in the supporting crowds, many of whom kept saying as we headed up another hill, ‘this is the last one, it’s all down hill from here!’, mainly it wasn’t. For nothing mountainous, read actually we’re sending you up and down every hill in North Ealing, several times. Though in my defence a quick google reveals that the elevation for Brizzle is 864 feet and Ealing was a mere 480 , according to my Garmin. I suspect all the speed bumps added a good 100 ft to that though.
The support on the course was great, my favourite gang comprised three young girls who sang ‘You’re amazing, just the way you are’ as runners rounder a corner around the 10 mile marker. It was possibly less fun for the people standing with them.
Eventually we made it back the parks and stumbled across the finish line in 2.47, a good 30 minutes behind Fiona who came in at 2.16. We were knackered.
The only thing I’d change is the lack of training. Chips ditched, medals and goody bags grabbed. We headed home and what a nice change it was to be showered and changed so quickly after finishing. Then we head to the pub for a well deserved lunch, and a massive planning session on what we’re going to do next. More on that in another post though.So lack of training aside, a good race. Well organised, lots of water stops, lots of support around the route, nice goody bag (any that features food and beer gets a Tough Gaff thumbs up) and generally a good time was had by all.
*The lack of mud and obstacles means you can’t distract yourself from the running
***Although 4650 people signed up, only 3,700 or so crossed the finish line, not sure how many didn’t turn up or didn’t finish.