Louise Kelly tells us it’s every woman for their self on race day.
Brass Monkey Half Marathon: Sunday 19th January 2014
There is one thing I have never claimed to be and that is sane. Sanity is over-rated and just a little bit boring. So it is with this notion that I jumped at the chance to run the Brass Monkey with four days’ notice. Thanks Denise Waugh for that. So it was on a wet Sunday morning that I and three other TBHer’s set off from Newcastle on the train bound for York. Spirits were high amongst myself, Sara Sedgley, Adam Jones and James Robson. We arrived at York Racecourse to be greeted by a sea of other harrier runners and a good sized group of more TBHer’s as well. Sixteen in all we totalled and I believe we were the biggest North East harrier club being represented on the day. I’ve checked out a few of the other clubs and only Heaton Harriers comes close to matching us in number. As we all finished with our individual last minute preparations before lining up I spotted an anomaly that I have never seen before. A queue at the male toilets! One of the strangest and rarest sights in the world, I think!! My own preparations involved taping my legs up and doing a very good impression of two pieces of candy rock, some would say it’s a psychological thing but considering I have been told that a race is run with 10 to 20% mind power I like to think that the tape helped edge me closer to the 20% mark. The Asics trainers were on and getting their first real test at road running.
Soon it was time to get moving and queue up at the starting line. The familiar sight of an Elswick harrier and a couple of Heaton harrier vest tops were seen amongst the fellow runners in the crowd were a welcome sight. I took my place at the sub 2:30 marker, I may be insane but I am a realist, with fellow group five runners Sara and Evelyn Maholam who were I was informed, going to keep me in check. Anybody who has seen me train in group five or race know that pacing is an issue and I tend to go off like a whippet because I do love a good sprint. Sara and Evie’s words not mine. Eventually we were off and the road was moving beneath our feet. The speedsters from TBH were already well ahead and giving the performance of the day and one individual was putting his foot in for member of the month: Mr Marc Fenwick.
It soon became apparent that this was no Great North Run, my only other experience of a half marathon. For one the lack of crowds is very apparent and the affect this can have at a psychological level was some noticed. To remind us that this was a country run, we were treated to our first lovely sight of a fluffy bunny rabbit lying dead on the road. Eventually after the first few miles I succumb to that thing that I think most runners dread, the undone shoelace. Asics trainers you failed epically here. So it was with much disappointment that I pulled up and re-fastened, when I looked up my companions had pulled away and I was left with two choices. One I sprint to catch up and then tire myself out or two I just carry on and hope that I could catch up. I did but this was not until near the end of the race, those girls are most definitely long distance runners despite their protests. So it was that I found myself running alone with only my thoughts for company, though pot-holed and puddle ridden roads, having to constantly watch out for speeding cars and vans, like I said no GNR. Anyway, I set off again and decided to just run along at a steady pace, stopping once more for the second dreaded fear of runners: nature was calling and was answered behind a holly bush. More time lost. So off I went again with my thoughts and thinking that it should be re-named the Brass Manure half (doesn’t take a genius to guess why), having the tune ‘Country roads take me home’ play through my head and thinking will my mam have made me any dinner or tea. The answer to that little question was no by the way. The rambling thoughts continued to play through my head only being interrupted by the toddler who sprinted past me blowing a whistle, nothing like children to show you how slow you’re going and the lady with the jelly babies just after mile seven. Apparently no one else saw her so I am questioning if I imagined it or not. Eventually I hit mile 8 and decided to have some fun. I had spotted some more runners all evenly spaced out and thought time for a bit fartlek running, so I quickened my pace and caught the first two runners, rest for a minute or two and repeat. Eventually I caught up with Evie; at this point Sara had sped off and achieved a well-deserved time. We spotted the bunny again so we knew we were near the end, I had a load of abuse shouted at me by a passing car. Although I later found out these were words of encouragement by a former schoolmate from primary school who had spotted me. So it was I finished my race just piping Evie at the post, she was my Karen Rooney. I was told that I needed a mortal enemy in my races by Karen himself at the Xmas party. So apologies Evie but I did not want to be ‘Evied’!!
So after all those 13.1 miles would I recommend this race to others? If you don’t mind the solitude then yes. If you like noisy, vibrate runs, give it a go more as a psychological challenge then a physical one. Would I run it again? Of course I would, need to PB that bad boy next year!! Oh and the course itself, mainly flat with two little hills at the beginning and then repeated at the end.