Birmingham Half Marathon – 14.10.18

Race Report By Helen Rowe

Sunday 14th October 2018 – the alarm went off at 6.30am.  To the say the weather was inclement would be putting it mildly.  I had decided on shorts, long sleeved top under Massey Vest, and compression socks.  I had my usual breakfast of porridge and a cup of tea, and then I set off for Coventry Station to catch the 8.37am train to Birmingham.  I wore my new waterproof coat over my running gear.  The station was packed with other runners, and the train was waiting.  I bumped into Maggie Morgan, and her friend Jane Hitchman.  Once the doors opened, we all piled on.  It was standing room only for some people, but we were lucky enough to get seats.

There was lots of chatter on the train, people excited at what lay ahead perhaps.  At New Street, we all piled out, and made our way to the main concourse.  Maggie and Jane wanted coffee, but I just wanted the loo!  While I waited for Jane and Maggie to get their coffee, lots of people approached to ask me if I knew where they had to go for the race, so I directed a few people.  Coffee bought, we made our way out of the station and up towards Broad Street.  There were lots of runners and the pavements were very crowded.  People were trying to shelter under buildings as best they could.  We found the baggage buses, and put out bags on board, did any last minute adjustments to clothing, and we all decided that instead of wearing lightweight (probably not very waterproof) jackets, we would just wear our ponchos.  I could have worn my new waterproof jacket – but I didn’t.  That might have been an error of judgement.

Bags deposited, we started to make our way to the toilets, and joined the queue.  Job done, we made our way back to the Pink Wave pen.  No-one wanted to get in it too soon, as it was unsheltered, and it was still raining.  We listened to the announcements, and the countdown for the white and orange wave starts, and then we decided to go into the pen.  Despite the weather, people were very upbeat, and keen to get going.  We had our warm up, and then were moved forwards.  The green wave left, and then it was our turn.  We moved forwards, and then a marshal noticed we had two spectators in amongst the crowd of runners.  He pulled them out, then we were off.

Maggie, Jane and I had initially planned to stay together, but I was soon up ahead of them.  Twice I stopped, to let them catch up, but when I lost them the third time, they were well and truly lost, as I couldn’t see them anymore, so I decided to push on.  Miles 1 and 2 seemed to pass very quickly.  There was a water station at Mile 3, and Mile 4 was inside Cannon Hill Park.  There were a lot less spectators than last year, but I couldn’t blame them, it was a foul day to be out.  I got to 5 miles, and noted that it was my fastest 5 miles this year, so that spurred me on.  There was another water station at approx. mile 6, which was also mile 9’ish on the way back, so we were passing the faster runners who were heading back.

It was great to see Elaine Robinson Garrett at about mile 7.  She asked if I wanted anything, but I said I was OK.  It suddenly got very windy, and the rain was driving.  I got very cold, and could imagine how people ended up with hyperthermia.  Thankfully, as I headed back along the Pershore Road towards Birmingham City Centre, the wind dropped a bit, and I started to warm up again.  I also started overtaking people who were walking (I was run/walking), and that gave me a bit of a boost.  From the 10 mile marker I knew it was “just a parkrun” to the finish.

We still had to get up that hill at the end, and most of us were walking.  I was saving myself for the finish, as I wanted to run across the finish line.  I finished in 3:11:08 – 7½ minutes faster than last year, so I was pleased with that.  I collected my goody bag, which seemed a long way from the actual finish line, and then I headed back to the finish to wait for Maggie and Jane to come in.  They were not far behind me.

We headed for the baggage buses, and stripped off on the back of the bus, to put some dry clothes on, and then we headed back to Grand Central.  I got home at 4.25pm, and ran myself a lovely hot relaxing bath.  Half Marathon Number 9 in the bag.