Race Report: Reading Half Marathon | Eclectic Cake: Race Report: Reading Half Marathon

Monday, 10 March 2014

Race Report: Reading Half Marathon

Music is a powerful tool. It can lift your mood, send you into a reflective sulk and even make the shyest of movers sway. But when you attach those tracks to an event, a big milestone in your life – say, your first half marathon – whenever you hear even a snippet, the memories will come flooding back. I've already had many an embarrassing tear on the tube whilst re-listening to my half marathon playlist. But be reassured, they're accompanied with a huge smile because, with a party in my ears, I had an absolute blast!

I was born in Reading so I guess that makes the Reading Half Marathon my homecoming race – Back in Black and white and pink but most importantly, blue. Representing Team Write This Run meant I had a wonderful bunch of people to reassure and distract me to the start line. This was much preferable to my husband's looks of "rather you than me!" and a Lonely Boy "will this thing take long, I'm going to be on my own!". 

The team reminded me to enjoy the experience, not panic and stick to my race plan. The latter was simple. I'd already run an enjoyable 11.5 miles in training, it was adding the extra 1.6 that would be the push, so I'd do that distance first. Get the hard bit out of the way, then run the remaining mileage I knew I could handle. I'd been told running a half marathon was part leg power, part strength of mind and This Head I Hold was playing the game.

Another mind boost was the crowd who came to Ch-Check it Out. There was very little of the course left unattended by sweet-givers, sign-wavers, miniature high-fivers and even beer-offerers. And it didn't take long before I needed their support. Mile 3 gave us our first hill. It probably looked worse than it was in comparison to the flat course but its shadow loomed over us and was already visibly sucking the energy out of fresh legs. Knowing there was only a few hundred metres of incline, I decided to Take control of that great lump. I was a Strict Machine whose only purpose was to put one foot in front of the other and never stop moving.

Magically, I floated to the top!

Even After All the trouble I'd had with my shins, my body still seemed ready for the challenge. I was doing it. The thing I'd been focusing on for months was happening right now! And that's when the first set of tears arrived. 

They only lasted a few seconds but I was suddenly completely overcome with emotion. That was nothing, though, compared to how the crash of incredible noise under the mile 5 bridge made me feel. The glorious steel pan band was The Sunshine Underground – just the thought of it still gives me goosebumps and makes my eyes well! Right there and then, my heart swelled. I threw my hands in the air in appreciation as my chin wobbled and fat salty tears fell down my face.

Running on, the noise calmed and I concentrated on heading towards the halfway point. This milestone came a little later than expected, as my two-part run strategy had confused my grasp of basic maths (6 is not half of 13.1!). When I did finally cross that marker, though, I was Waving Not Drowning in the size of the task. I was giddy that I'd come this far with so much energy left in the tank.

It wasn't until after mile 8 that my legs started to feel heavy. But deciding We Just Won't be Defeated, it was time for a boost. I'd tested running and ripping the top off a gel pouch before but I didn't quite nail it this time. Sticky goo dribbled down my face and joined a stream of snot from the cold weather. I was glad there were no photographers at this point to record my glamorous running look, I'd just get too many offers – "I Just Wanna Make Love to You".

Despite the failed fueling, the end of the race was in sight. I'd been warned of the last few miles. Set on a duel carriage-way, they were told to be the dullest and the longest couple of miles of the event. But I was running around on the road alongside Banana Man and a Minion, having the time of my life. This was my Concrete Schoolyard, how can that be boring?! 

And sooner than I knew, there was the Madejski Stadium. The finish line of my first half marathon, the furthest I'd ever run. I was Super Woman!

But there, in front, was an impostor. I'd claimed the title but she had the red cape and glittery hot-pants. I needed to beat her! I couldn't Shoot the Runner, so the only way to get past her was to muster the only ounce of energy left to sprint to that line. With wobbly legs, I glanced back. 

I've finished?!



  1. Wahheyy! Great idea for a race report. I always end up with food down my face and hands! Well done Jen, are you planning the next one? ;)

    1. Thanks, Steph! I absolutely loved the experience so am looking to get more booked in. I'm glad I'm not the only messy runner!

  2. This is awesome! Can't beat a bit of concrete schoolyard!

  3. YAY! So excited to read that everything went so well, with a soundtrack too (great idea by the way!). Big giant well done!

    1. Thank you! I enjoyed every minute, can't wait to do it again!

  4. Congratulations! I love the idea of running the hardest bit first - definitely taking that away for my next race! (totally loving the sound track too!)

    1. Thanks, Bethan! It really helped my mind to relax over a distance I'd not run before.