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Race Report: Yeovil Half Marathon 2015

The start of British Summertime not only signals an hours extra daylight at the end of the day, but its also the day that Total buzz Events hosts the Yeovil Half Marathon. Growing each year, its an opportunity for local people to set their sights on a challenging but achievable goal, and it boosts runner numbers that I see pounding the streets over the winter, hopefully to continue their running careers!

For me, its a poignant reminder of how far I’ve come. 2 years to the day since my first race, my first half marathon time was 2:07, and at Reading last week it was 1:30.

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Its not a massive race, and there are only a few road closures which can make it difficult I think to attract more people to the event. Furthermore the route could be improved to take in some more of the lovely countryside of the area (Camp Road would be a good addition). But it is what it is.

The weather this year was miserable. Cold, wet and windy. I needed to do 20 miles, which meant a super early start (5am in real terms). I decided to drive to the venue, the magnificent Huish Park, home of Yeovil Town FC! As I was so early though, the gates weren’t even open. I resorted to parking at nearby Abbey Manner to run my 7 mile loop. I found it tougher than i thought it would, which didn’t bode too well. Once I finished the loop I got to the car and headed to the car park, by which point there was a massive queue!

The parking was great, once you got in the car park. The problem was, they had 2 lanes of traffic which they merged together which caused a bottle neck. I think they’d have been better with a single stream.

Packet pick up was collection on the day, so i got out of the car to go and get it before heading back to pin on my bib and attach my chip in the comfort of my car. It was very easy to pick up the packet, and I was surprised just how many people I saw that I knew, either socially, through parkrun, or through the running club. I remember that first year being stood in the freezing cold, just me and Jodie, too scared to speak to anyone and not feeling like I really belonged – which I know know to be ridiculous!

I met with the guys from Running for Time where well chatted about our ambitions for the race, and moaned about the weather. We got a photo, and then Simon and I ran to get the obligatory club photo too. I was trying my hand at pacing for the first time, as I was only using the run as part of a 20 miler I offered to help Ryan round to a 1:57, who was struggling a bit with Injury.

Credit to Olly Ayles
Credit to Olly Ayles
Credit to the Western Gazette
Credit to the Western Gazette

With a relatively small field, there were no timed start pens, and unlike other years there were also no signs which advised people where to start based upon their expected finish times. With a few minutes to spare people headed for the line and without too much pomp and ceremony we were off.

The route started with a 3/4 lap of the Huish Park Stadium, and gave us the opportunity to find our pace. Simon and Hannah were pacing for a similar time to us and we spent a good portion of the race going ahead/behind each other.

The route was run over a lot of roads which are the bread and butter of my training, and aside from the weather it was quite a straightforward, sociable run. I saw so many parkrun friends, Strava friends and club friends and chatted with people all the way around – not only runners either, the support was great, better at some parts of the course than others though, but for a smaller race I think it was quite well represented.

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Despite it being so called “bread and butter” running, I still managed to go head over backside. Running towards the Airfield Tavern, I put my foot down on the curb and slipped off it. I managed somehow to hit the deck, protect my Garmin and carry my momentum into a forward roll of sorts, which meant I was able to get back up, feeling only a little sheepish and with a small graze to the elbow. I did hobble a bit afterwards but seems OK now. Thankfully, this was 100 yards before the biggest cheer point on the course so that saved my blushes! Though my friend Will captured these snaps of me right after my tumble.

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We managed to maintain pace all the way through to about 9 miles until we had to slow. As Ryan’s injury had prevented him training as much as he needed to, he started cramping up and struggling, so it was a tough last 4 miles for him, and the last 2 involved a few walk breaks too. Though I did manage to motivate him into a sprint finish for the line, and I have to say the support at the finish line was brilliant.

We got a decent medal, though they are always like a chromey/silver and look, to be honest, a bit cheap, despite being sizable. The goody bag wasn’t much to write home about, though the dairy milk chocolate went down a treat!

All in all, another good Half Marathon – Maybe I’ll even race it next year. Though this was still a course best for me!

 

The Eighth Stone

Great news! As of this morning I officially weigh 13st13lbs.

In real terms, this means from the date I first joined weight watchers for the first time all those years ago (And I wish i still had the records from those days) I’ve lost 8 stone.

That’s 112lbs.

Or 51kg if you prefer.

Which is 36% of my original body weight.

Whilst it is clearly a massive milestone, it has taken a very long time to get there. Clearly, its only been through running that I’ve been able to lose the weight sustainably, and hopefully for good.

But for some reason, I don’t feel the same sense of accomplishment I thought I would.

Over the years I had one primary target weight, which was 14st10lbs, or a healthy BMI. I reached that back in 2014 and to be honest, even then it didn’t feel like a huge relief or point of celebration.

I’ve spent the last couple of years hovering between 14st1 and 15st ish. To put that period into context, I originally drafted this post on the 9th December 2014! Back then I weighted 14st 1lb and honestly thought I’d lose the 2lbs it would take to dip me under the mark. It never happened.

I’ve always wanted to break through that 8st mark, into the 13 stones but never really was able to make it and I lost hope that I’d ever really be able to do it. But with my recent London training I had a renewed vigor for it.

Has breaking through that plateau given me some sort of wild sense of elation? No, it hasn’t.

As a former fatty I watch all sorts of weight loss programs – from the normal to the extreme and see all manner of people changing their lives and celebrating big time when they reach their goals. But for me, my motivation has changed. At some point over the last couple of years, I’ve changed my approach from “I run to lose weight” to “I want to lose weight so I can run better”, and it sort of happened without me really noticing it.

I spent many years being upset, embarrassed and sometimes depressed about my weight. Even now I bloody hate seeing race photos with my belly wobbling about, but I’m not nearly as annoyed by them as I used to be. I’ve still got a ring of loose skin around my belly which I think is basically excess from when I was much bigger, and I don’t think that’s going anywhere without surgery. But I think I’m OK with that. In some ways its a trophy, or sign of just how far I have come. Maybe its marriage, maybe its fatherhood. Maybe its a mix of those things AND being at a healthy weight?

The most important thing above all though is health and I now feel that I am healthy, and I’ve done it in a healthy, sustainable way – through exercise – and that’s why i think I’ll be able to keep it off.

I still want to lose a bit more – my target now is 13st 5lbs which in theory will give me a body fat percentage int he “Athlete” zone which will be pretty cool, and then I want to maintain around there. Whilst I’ve spent that last few years hovering in the 14st mark, I’d like 13st13 to be my new “top end” with 13st 7lbs being my new normal.

But who knows? Unlike before I’m not going to get myself too worked up or too upset if I don’t.

I just want to be as lean as I can so I can run London as fast as I can…