Wolverhampton 10K and Marathon – 4 September 2016
Yes, you read that correctly. The old bloke who bimbles round at the back on a Monday night actually did a race. For those of you newer to the club, I did actually used to be able to run, 80 minutes half marathons, sub 3 hour marathons until ankle surgery put an end to all that about 15 years ago.
Nowadays my competitive juices are satisfied by the triple jump, in the top 10 in the UK for the over 60’s in 2015 (yes, I know there are probably only 10 over 60 triple jumpers in the UK).
My younger son (Dave) now lives in Telford and volunteered to do the Wolverhampton marathon to raise funds for his mother in law’s school. I’ve offered support and advice throughout his training, so said I would go up for the weekend of the race. About 2 weeks before, he said that the 10K wasn’t full, so did I fancy doing that! HELP!! Apart from the ill fated Adur challenge in 2015 (Graham’s Folly anyone) I haven’t run that far in one go for donkey’s years.
So I entered. Duly received my number with a chip in it (to show how out of touch I am with racing, I thought that chip timing meant watching the oven to see how long they would take to cook). The whole set up on the day was really good, although I was amazed at the low number of runners for a city marathon, 354 for the 10K, 597 for the half and only 224 for the marathon. My only reservation was that Molineux was being used as a car park for the event, so mine, resplendent with an assortment of Albion stickers, looked a bit out of place.
Dave’s aforementioned mother in law (Mary) and loads more from her school were all doing the 10K, so I had someone to chat to after the marathon had started before we ran. She does a bit of running so there was definitely incentive for me to go well and get the family bragging rights.
On the entry form I had to put my expected finishing time. I had no idea what to put, so went for 56 minutes, more out of hope than anything else, thinking that 9 minute miling might just be possible. Suddenly it was time, so we lined up. Mary asked where we should stand. My pathetic response was that I really had no idea, except not too near the front!
And off we went. I seemed to drop into a reasonable rhythm, with no real idea of pace until I got to the first K marker, which I reached in 5mins 25 seconds. Not too bad I thought, just a bit quicker than target and I’d left Mary and the rest floundering in my wake. Then someone fell over in front of me, so I wasted precious time making sure they were OK. Strangely, I fell into the same rhythm and maintained pretty much the same pace until 9K, when I thought, not far to go now, let’s push on. And I did! Finished in 53 mins 23, 111th out of 354, and 3rd man over 60! Mary did 1hour 1min, so I’m the king!
For a first marathon, Dave did OK. He’s struggled to put the training in, partly due to having a 16 month old son and partly due to his shift work. He did join his local club, Lawley Runners, to try and get some training with others, but having paid his annual fee, three weeks later they tried to sting him for the next annual fee, having not told him that the first one only had 3 weeks to run. Disgraceful, I said Arena would never be so mercenary, so he told them where to stick it. So all his training was on his own.
He’d done 20 miles at 10 minute pace as his last long run, so he was hopeful of getting around four and a half hours. He went through half way in 2 hours, which was probably a bit quick, as he started calf cramping at around 20 miles. Having finished my race, I ran the marathon course backwards (you know what I mean) and met up with him at around 24 miles so that I could run the last bit with him. Is that pretty extreme parenting or just plain stupid? He was suffering by then which I became aware of due to the frequent expletive followed by a sudden stop as he cramped. He finished in 4 hours 52, and the good news is that he wants to do another marathon, it hasn’t put him off.
As far as the race goes, it’s not really one that I would recommend, although looking at the results, Arena runners would do very well. My PB for a marathon would have got me third place this year. The organisation was first class. All 3 races are reasonably flat, just a few inclines to keep it interesting. There are road closures, but they aren’t comprehensive and didn’t last all that long, so there is a good bit of mingling with traffic, hardly ideal when you’re knackered at the end of a marathon. The course is not exactly riveting, but then it is Wolverhampton.
So am I now full of enthusiasm to rekindle my endurance career. Maybe, but I know I can’t because if I run more than once a week, my foot would probably fall off. But did I enjoy it as a one off, most definitely!!
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