Being a bad daughter who lives a long way from her parents and having not seen them since Christmas I decided I would drive the 250 miles to Cornwall to surprise my mum for Mother’s Day. Needless to say, running-mad mother had also entered a half marathon (part of her quest to run 13 half marathons in one year) for the same day, so not wanting to tuck into a Sunday roast without doing any exercise, I decided (on the Monday before the race) that I should probably enter too.
The Mother’s Day-eve surprise went excellently, with mum suitably happy when I turned up unannounced on Saturday. Luckily (as always) she had planned to cook far more food than required, so I was able to enjoy some pre-race calorie loading. Other than eating a lot, the rest of my race preparation involved being extremely tired from the long drive and feeling generally un-rested after having bought a new road bike on Monday and taking it for more test rides than necessary before running a half marathon. Never mind, I was still feeling reasonably strong, although not well rested.
Race day started early, with a 20 minute drive from Truro to Falmouth and then registration handily located in the local Wetherspoons pub sometime around 08:30. Unsurprisingly I was the only Bournville Harrier listed at the ‘club entries’ desk, so finding my number was not difficult. There were many local club runners congregating in the pub, including lots from my mum’s running club: Truro Running Club.
The race started at 9am, after one of those awful ‘zumba’ style warm ups, which do nothing but risk pulling muscles I didn’t know existed. Although I started the run with mum, I decided early on to skip across to the other side of the street and run separately as mum is usually much faster than me and I waste energy trying to keep up. The race began with a fast downhill and a couple sharp turns before joining the main shopping street heading out of town. The first hill began at 2km, taking us steeply up to the viewing points that overlook Falmouth docks. My legs felt good and I decided not to look at my Garmin, but instead to focus entirely on running at a pace that felt good. I powered up the first hill, bouncing on to my toes and overtaking other runners. At the top we circled around Pendennis Castle and then dropped down to the sea front. My legs were flying at this point and glancing at my Garmin I saw I was well under 8 minute miles.
The 5km point flew by and my legs still felt good. I focussed on keeping my legs turning over at a constant pace and also on keeping my posture upright, usually I slump forward and start to give up: this race was all about not looking at the Garmin, running at a comfortable pace, keeping a good posture, and concentrating on nothing else.
The route continued to undulate before we hit the first monster hill at 10km. This took us away from the coast and up towards Mawnan Smith. Up on my toes I bounded up the hill and overtook some more runners. Although this was great for keeping my mental state more positive than normal when racing, I couldn’t help but think I couldn’t keep this pace going and I’d soon be overtaken myself. After more undulations, we were rewarded with a sweeping downhill along country lanes and still my legs felt good. Another monster hill hit at 14km, but I was able to maintain a running pace by telling myself that if I stopped and walked then I wouldn’t start again. Mum was nowhere to be seen at this point, so I started to believe that perhaps this would be the race that I would beat her for the first time. I told myself not to think like that because she’d probably sail past soon enough.
Finally we reached the last downhill and were returned to the main road leading into Falmouth. Although the big hills were over, and we were on the finishing straight, there was no danger that the ‘undulations’ had left us behind. Almost at the end some sadistic race organiser decided that to add the extra distance to the course we had to go into a car park and run around some cones in a loop. I thought this was going to be flat, but being Cornwall the carpark was on a 45° angle!
The finish was uphill through the streets of Falmouth and we were greeted by some very loudly cheering supporters on the final stretch. I think their enthusiasm buoyed me on to a sprint finish, which I crossed in my second fastest half marathon time, and a resounding season’s best. I also beat mum (sorry mum).
After staggering across the finish line we were handed a medal, bottle of water, pasty, banana and a voucher for a glass of bubbly back at the Wetherspoons. I managed to acquire three more vouchers and enjoyed a rather large glass of rehydration bubbly with my pasty.
I came 159th (out of 414) and 17th woman (out of 163) in 1:48:06
Mum came second in her age category (winning a bottle of wine) in 1:50:05
Team prizes included more wine, so mum got another bottle to take home. Perhaps Bournville should go on tour to the sunny south west? Land of proper hills and edible/drinkable race mementoes?!
Undulations aplenty on the race route: https://www.strava.com/activities/268799922