Some things are beyond our control

It all started so well. But after the wind hit me after the turn around 9 km at the North end of the promenade, everything went to hell in a handbasket. The rain was horizontal and ice cold, I was drenched and ice cold, and the wind knocked whatever energy I had completely out of me.

But I'm getting ahead of myself here. There real story starts at 7.45 when the alarm clock rang as planned. I got up as planned, went down to the Great North West Half Marathon (aka Blackpool HM) registration area at 8.30 as planned to get my timing chip and race number, and sat down and had a leisurely breakfast as planned. Went up to my room to read for a bit while waiting for it to be time to get down for the 11 o'clock start of the race. When I got down it was raining, but hey, what's a bit of rain between friends? And the timing was perfect - just enough time to walk across the road and spend 5 minutes on gentle warm-up, and then another 5 minutes (max) before the start went.

The field quickly stretched out, and I found my place in the rear quarter with people running roughly the same pace as me. I had decided to be scientific about this running stuff, so I was watching my heart rate like a hawk and sticking to the plan. Nice gentle trot down towards the Blackpool Tower.

The Blackpool North Promenade is a split level thing with one part running at street level (which goes up and down) and one level at almost sea level. Although the wind was coming from the South and we started off running southwards, it felt nice and almost easy. As I later figured out, that was due to all the runners in front catching the wind and sheltering the rest of us. After two short loops between the start and the south end of the promenade, we did the full length of the promenade. Nice and easy. Gently does it. Heart rate in check. Lots of happy runners despite the rain. By now we were all drenched, but hey, what's a bit of rain between friends?

Then I got to the turn at the north end. By now we were up at the street level, there were no crowds in front to take the worst of the wind, the rain had picked up and was mixed with sleet, the wind had picked up to around 30 mph, and suddenly a bit of rain and wind was a big thing! I soldiered on as well as I could, but despite best efforts saw my splits increase from 6-6.30 to 7-7.30. (Actually I didn't see this. My glasses were covered with rain drops on the outside and the wind made my eyes water, so it was impossible to read my Garmin. So at the time I just knew that I was slower, and it's only with the wisdom of hindsight (and Garmin) that I know how much.)

Eventually we got back to the start, and here the route then brought us back down to sea level and for another round up to the North end. With the wind at my back I got the splits back down to around 6.30. By now I knew what was waiting, but ever the optimist, I convinced myself that it wouldn't really be that bad. Things were going well, almost according to the plan, and (as I might have mentioned already), what's a bit of rain between friends?

The second stretch going South from 16.5 km to the end was pretty horrible. By now the gentle incline as the road rose and dropped felt like hills. Big hills. Hills so big I didn't know how to run up them. So there was quite a lot of walk a little, run a little, walk a little, run a little. I was cold and feeling miserable, and had completely stopped caring about timing - all I wanted was for it to be over.

I remember spectator number 7 (I counted 10 in total... it wasn't really nice weather to stand around and look at a bunch of idiots going for a run in the rain) making a big point out of cheering me up. She was standing in a bus shelter, and as I was walking up towards it, she started to clap, got eye contact, even began to jump up and down and shouted "you can do it". My heart rose, fresh energy arrived, and I proudly ran for at least 100 meters until she was behind me.

When I got to the 12 mile marker, I decided I could run the rest of the way. So I ran 200 meters and decided I could f**k all. Walked a bit. Ran a bit. It wasn't until I got to about half a mile from the finish line that I managed to settle back into a rhythm that would carry me all the way "home".

A friendly soul was handing out bananas at the finishing line. I got one, but couldn't peel it with my wet gloves on, and my brain wasn't working well enough for me to realise I could take them off. So I threw my banana away and wobbled across the road to my hotel room.

I was feeling pretty down and very worn out. I knew there would be a silver lining, but at that moment I just couldn't see it. A hot bath and a rest put a smile back on my face, but even though I knew I'd eventually be pleased and proud, all I could really think of was wanting to get warm.

Having thought about it on the way home, I know I did the best I could. I hadn't trained for running in freezing rain and with headwinds of 30 mph or more. So it tired me out very quickly, and it probably also didn't help that I must have lost a lot of energy by beeing freezing cold. Wet gloves are not very good, and the wet cotton buff around my neck can't have done much good either. Maybe I ought to invest in a rain proof beanie. Lots of maybes, but at the end of the day, I gave it everything I had (and then some), so I can only be happy about that. The stuff that was under my control went well, and the rest... well, loads of maybes and perhaps'es, but I got through it.

Today I'm pleased with it all. The bling is huge! As big as a palm. Looking great! My legs don't ache much. What's not to be happy about?! And despite the time not being close to the 2:15 I had hoped for, it was still a PB (improvement by around 2 minutes), so I am pleased and happy. And finally warm as well :)

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28 Replies

  • Hugs Tomas!Sounds absolutely awful and you did so well to get round....many would have given up! The next one is going to seem a breeze😀😀😀😀...and a PB!!!

  • True that. That's an excellent silver lining. And Miles Yonder has already been tempting me with another HM in the spring :)

  • You did great Tomas, in appalling conditions. Bad weather is just awful and you have conquered it and hills.

  • Yes, that's also how I choose to see it today. Yesterday... Not so much lol

  • Aww Tomas. I think you were amazing to keep going! It sounds truly awful. How fantastic to get a PB in conditions like that!

  • Thanks Ully, you're right. I hope it didn't sound too much like a moan. While it wasn't the best experience I've had, I'm pleased today.

  • Tomas, you just ran for 13.1 bloody miles!! ! How fantastic is that? 13.1 MILES!

    That weather sounds absolutely awful but you persevered and ran through it and finished the race. That took a lot of guts and determination but you did it and you should be very proud. We're very proud of you. From couch to half marathon. Amazing.

    We'd love to see the medal. Show it off. You earned it.

  • Determination, mostly. And the fact that I hadn't brought cash for a taxi back *lol*

  • CONGRATULATIONs Tomas! what an epic achievement to battle with the elements like that and not give up, you are made of strong stuff! It sounds SO cold and wet, its brilliant that you got a PB too! :) Do we get a photo of the bling!? you should be VERY proud of yourself! :)

  • Thank you Ali, and yes, I should snap a pic of the bling. Pretty shiny thing that it is. My precioussssss *lol*

  • To get a PB in weather like that is amazing. To run for 13.1 miles is amazing! So well done Tomas, you have done sooooo well. Aw we need to see the bling! x :-)

  • Aaaaw bless you. You still did it. That's bloody marvellous!!! Well done you for keeping going. Where's the photo of the bling??!!!!

  • Tomas you are a total star. What a hard hard race and you stuck it out and battled through to the end. It may not have been the time you wanted but you fought on heroically to the end. So well done you, you should be massively proud of what you've achieved :) x

  • Sounds absolutely horrible. There's only one way to go from there....up....your next one (and I'm sure you will be doing another one!) will be soooo much better ! you are obviously a tenacious blighter..

  • Well done Tomas, massive respect to you for competing and finishing despite the appalling conditions.

    It was atrocious weather yesterday here in the North West, snow, sleet , driving winds, and at the coast it mustve been a lot worse.

    You should be very pleased with that, blimey a HM is not to be sneezed at and a marvellous time too !

    Yes ,that definitely makes you a winner in my book and yes , we really should see the bling ! :-) xxx

  • you star...that was one incredibly difficult run, its no fun running in the freezing cold with wind too. Th trail run we did yesterday was extremely tough due to the freezing rain ( still fun though), we got back to Truro and got hot chocolates etc but if I'm honest I still haven't warmed up. It takes it out of you, and you did a HM!! Hats off to you I think you should feel incredibly pleased with that achievement...and the bling :)

  • Really feel for you Tomas - all that excellent planning and then factors beyond your control trying to b*gger you up! But you showed 'em!! BIG respect. And the bling was worth it :-) Huge congratulations to you.

  • That was very brave. You are gumption personified!

  • Oh well done!! You should be very proud- I feel sure that without a doubt I would have given up.

  • Sorry that you haven't enjoyed the event as much as you expected, but you completed it and in such a great time too! Honestly think that is such an enormous achievement given the conditions, not to forget of course to congratulate you on the PB! That just goes to show how much faster you can go under better conditions too. I am pretty sure I wouldn't be able to compete with your time under perfect conditions! If you absolutely cannot see through the negative bits then think, a bad HM is better than no HM! Congratulations on such a brave performance :)

  • Well done. You've managed a HM in awful conditions, and got a PB too! There's one thing you know for certain now, and that's the next HM has got to be a piece of cake in comparison.

    Now its 24 hours later, I'm sure your fingers are just itching to hit the submit button on that next HM application. Go on, you know you are going to do it...

  • R E S P E C T !!! You are awesome Tomas, in that terrible weather you ran for 13 flipping miles.... I bow to your greatness, *** round of applause*** :-) :-)

  • Mate - what a superb effort in appalling conditions! You have every right to feel super proud of yourself.. And a PB to boot!!! What's not to love?

    Well done... I bet many folks didn't even bother to turn up.. You did, you ran it and you killed your previous best... Super stuff!

  • Wow Tomas - to have kept going through all of that is brilliant - and you've almost certainly have inspired many others to 'have a go'. And there would be many who would be happy to have that timing even on the sunniest of days - well done :)

  • You are awesome! I'm so impressed, I would certainly have given up, it siounds horrible. Well done you, where's the bling?

  • I am so impressed that you did this in such appalling conditions - AND beat your previous PB! Fantastic! Not only that, but there was very little encouragement from spectators (though as you say, can't really blame them) and the weather sounds dire. Although I have no ambition at all to run HMs, it seems to me that the conditions and the spectators contribute a little bit to getting round when it becomes difficult, so the way that you were able to dig in and just do it is amazing. All your hard work and training plus your determination really paid off - well done. You are a star. Just think of the next one... :D

  • Oh well done Tomas, I know a few other people that ran and so I know how awful the weather was! Well done for battling on, you should be seriously proud of yourself xx

  • Bloody hell, Tomas, I felt cold and knackered just reading your description of that race! Fantastic effort to persevere when many would have given up. I hope you aren't suffering any after effects of all that exposure to the cold and wet.

    Looks like travelling south to run with Miles or Aussie next year might be a more appealing option - not that that's a guarantee for better weather!

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