Oxford Half Marathon

These last few weeks have been so hectic I haven’t really had five minutes to myself to sit down and write! This year I was determined to make the most of my second Fresher’s Week and commit to as many activities as I could. In hindsight I seem to have gone a little bit too hard as I’m currently curled up in bed nursing horrendous flu with pizza on the way! Today has given me a chance to catch up with work, notes and my latest post!

I’ve been up to lots of exciting activities over the last fortnight both at and away from Loughborough. I’ve been to paint parties, house warmings, welcome socials galore and even a rugby match! Fresher’s week is always a mixture of chaos and excitement – though what I learnt last year is that it’s easy to be lulled into a false sense of security. The first few weeks are so jam packed and then when they’re over you can find yourself with nothing and so much time on your hands! This year I’ve managed to find a much more equal balance so now everything has calmed down I still have plenty of things to get involved with!

Life away from uni is also pretty great too though. Last weekend Josh and I celebrated our anniversary which still sounds incredibly weird to say!! We found a very unconventional way to celebrate which I suppose befits us.
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, Josh is a fantastic long distance runner (and there’s no doubt he’ll argue here) and has been training for over five years now. Last April he entered his very first half marathon at Reading and this weekend happened to fall on the date of the Oxford Half Marathon – just over half an hour from his home.

Before I met Josh I’d had no experience of this alien world of long distance running. If I’m honest, I had the greatest respect for these athletes as I’d be out of breath running 100m at school sports day – but I still thought they were crazy! I’d been on the outside of Josh’s runs for a year now; distance and uni commitments meant I couldn’t be present at most of them, I simply had to wait until the Facebook Posts came pouring in to find out how he’d done (annoyingly he always PB’d!). This would be the first race I would be able to be see him at and I was beyond excited!

I’d had a sort of taste of a race atmosphere when I took part in Race for Life back in July but that was nothing compared to this! As we were driving in, we heard on the radio that over 10,000 runners were heading to the start line today :O we had to get the park and ride service into the centre of Oxford and everywhere you looked were people warming up and doing (some very strange) post race rituals.

There were a mixture of elite runners and people just wanting a challenge, even a few men dressed as cheerleaders for some strange reason! Figured out a lot of specialist terminology just by listening to what was going on. Unfortunately (my personal favourite) “Chip Time” was not a scheduled chippy date after the run – instead it was your accurate time from the start to finish line as opposed to “Gun Time” which is from when the gun goes off. Confused? It took me a while (embarrassingly now, as it’s kind of obvious).

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Caerys (Josh’s stepmum) and I found a good spotย when we were walking towards the finish line and waited there to see Josh as he ran past. Unfortunately the spot we picked was directly opposite a group of Bongo Drummers who had clearly been employed for motivational support! Fantastic if you’re running past, not so great if you’re standing opposite them for half an hour! That said, for the runners, there were a couple of stations around the course like this that would have kept me going. I hadn’t realised just howย grateful all of the runners were for the support! Just after mile two there was a group of university students playing versions of popular songs in a brass band! Though my personal favourite had to be the jellybean stand at mile seven!!

I spotted Josh and his dad for the several seconds as they ran past, just long enough for a quick cheer and wave: they spotted us and he had a massive smile on his face too which is always good to see. Took a few pictures and then made our way (walking) along the side of the course. Then we knew we had a bit of time to kill before they’d be finished so set off to explore and find a coffee shop in Oxford. By the time we found one that opened before 11am they were probably nearly finished! After a lovely chat, coffee and cake we found ourselves amongst the crowds at the finish line. We had no idea if they’d finished or where they were; all we could see was the clock. After only a few moments we spotted Josh’s dad Rich crossing the line at around 1:47 gun time (see told you it would be important!)

We worked out that Josh must have finished earlier, mainly as his pride wouldn’t let his dad beat him! At this point I was jumping up and down with excitement as his previous PB at Reading had been 1:47 minutes. My terrible mathematics was working out that asย his gun time was quicker than his dad’s, his chip time must be several minutes less too so he’d definitely achieved what he’d set out for!! We’d arranged a meeting point for once they’d finished so hurried back to there to find them!

Waiting for them was so nerve wracking but we eventually saw them (staggering) towards us wrapped in space-blankets to keep in their body heat – looked like foil turkeys ready for the oven in my mind!! We were still waiting for the official times to come through – knew he’d beaten his best but wanted to know how much. There were stats flying around left, right and centre which went totally over my head – I didn’t care, I was absolutely bursting with pride! I also seemed to end up with half of the goodies from his race pack – ‘so you can eat some proper food when you’re back at uni!” Charming!!!

We then all went for the traditional pint after a race and the official times came through. He’d run the course in 1:41:15, knocking 6 minutes of his PB! It just topped off a fantastic day, I was so damn proud!! Had lunch in a little Oxford pub and watched him polish off a roast dinner, suppose he’d earned it ๐Ÿ˜‰ The whole day had been lovely and I intend to be there supporting at many more races in the future – if he’ll let me!

There is an undeniably amazing atmosphere surrounding running events. It’s such an independent sport, yet you never feel alone at any point. It’s a sport like no other because in that moment you’re being pulled through by complete strangers and the support of others. I hope to go and take part in many more races because the adrenaline kick is incredible and the sense of achievement from pushing your body past all you thought possible is a very addictive feeling! Josh needs a new challenge now, and more importantly so do I. I have a few ideas about where my own running will take me, but that’ll have to stay secret for a little more time!

Hannah

xxx

Have you ever taken part in a race? Running professionally or maybe just to see if you could? Maybe you were at the Oxford Half last Sunday? Please share your experiences with me or just your opinions in the comments below. I need a little motivation for my next endeavor if nothing else!!

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