Reading Half: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly…

You may or may not have seen me bitching about running the Reading half marathon last weekend. I was running as part of the Mizuno Evo project I’ve been involved with over the past couple of months – the race is sponsored by Mizuno and Sweatshop and the whole team were running. I’ll admit, it hasn’t otherwise been on my hit list of races to run and it turns out that was unfortunately rightly so. For a variety of reasons, I can honestly say that the Reading half marathon 2013 was the worst race I’ve ever run.

The good…

Crowds

Crowds are the best thing about races. I don’t know what it is that makes people stand out and cheer on complete strangers doing something silly but it’s amazing and joyous. Despite the torrential rain and freezing temperatures the streets were completely lined with people wrapped up and huddling under umbrellas cheering you on. It made such a difference to my race and really lifted my spirits and if I could personally say a huuuuge thank you to each and every person that braved the elements that day to support runners in awful conditions I would.

Special shout out to Reading Family Church, who were blasting house music so loud it turned all of the surrounding streets in to one big wet party and who’s 30+ volunteers were the most enthusiastic I’ve ever seen!

Endurance

I’ve been suffering with a stomach bug ever since I came back from Pakistan (don’t even LOOK at the water if you visit there) and running doesn’t do it any favours. Keen to get my training in I decided that the best way forward was to race, but not drink or eat anything 12 hours before or during the race (my boyfriend summed this decision up by asking me “What’s worse – missing training or potentially shitting yourself in the middle of Reading?” Clearly I think missing training is worse). I know that sounds silly but I figured I’d rather get the miles in slowly than miss even more of my training. I ran the whole thing, without food or water but also without stopping, through the freezing cold and rain, crossing the finish line in 1:53. Yes, it’s a personal PW but that doesn’t matter. I was not feeling great and it was a tough race and to not stop and finish in a pretty reasonable time was a massive achievement for me. A memory to draw on in future tough races!

Chuffed as bloody punch. And pretty much sponsored by immodium.

Goody Bag

Had a twix in.

The bad…

Soggy Mess

The weather last weekend was horrendous. Absolutely pouring with torrential rain, freezing cold and topped off with an icy wind. This is in no way the fault of the organisers and cannot be helped, but it made the whole experience 10x more unpleasant and I stood on the start line, icy water dripping off my nose, feeling very sorry for myself indeed. Grim. Check out this picture of me gunning for the finish line looking like a DROWNED RAT.

Apologies for the copyright infringement but I don’t want to pay £24.99 for this picture of me looking soggy.

Hospitality

As I said I ran this race as part of the Mizuno project. However I didn’t meet anyone from Mizuno all day and there was no Q&A after the race about the shoes. I was excited about the chance to meet with the Mizuno team and discuss the project and yet I struggled to find anyone who had even heard of the ger project, let alone someone actually involved in it. I managed to find a couple of the other gers by pure coincidence (I recognised uber coach Kim Ingleby!) which was nice, but the fact that there was no brand representative around after the race gave the distinct impression that no-one really cared for the project at all, which was a huge shame.

And the ugly…

Route of DOOM

I’m not sure how two huge running organisations, Mizuno and Sweatshop, managed to come up with a route as terrible as this. The Reading half marathon takes you past such delights as Jewson Tool Hire, Reading University campus and someone’s aunties house in the deepest depths of suburbia. We also climbed a fair few hills, which was odd for a course that’s sold as flat. The low point is the never ending trudge along a dual carriage way towards the finish line in the stadium. Here are some scenic highlights…

At least it was sunny when google visited

Left at the roundabout

A lay-by to stop in and take a photo to treasure forever.

Let me talk you through the spectacular “stadium finish“. Picture the scene.

The stadium is at the end. Somewhere.

It’s pouring with rain. You can barely see for the water pouring over your face and you can’t feel your poor sodden little toes. You’re running along a dual carriage way in one big endless straight line and suddenly the stadium (finish line!) looms out of the rainy fog. YES. You run and run and as you arrive you’re taken on a sharp right and along a service road, running further and further away. Past a car park, past a delivery truck depot and the stadium is drifting from view and you’re wondering if your ‘race’ will ever end or whether you’ll be forever plodding through a maze of industrial roads round the back of B&Q. Finally you reach a roundabout and you swing around and you’re back, plodding on the same road but in the other direction (which happens to be a bit uphill, in case you weren’t already drowning in self pity) until eventually you reach the stadium. Instead of running inside and finally completing your victory lap you’re met with a “500M TO GO!!” sign and you’re like…

And you’re thinking “But I’m HERE! Where have you magicked another half a kilometre from you EVIL WIZARDS” and you find yourself running all the way round to the other side before they let you in. Once inside, you get shoulder barged by a large man clearly gunning for a PB and you’d cuss your own face off at him if you had the energy.

But, don’t let me put you off or anything.