Last week with just a few days to go I was offered a place in the Great Birmingham Run. I owe this race one but hadnt entered primarily due to financial restrainsts. As the place was free all I had to consider was whether I was prepared enough to do it and whether to Morph it or not.
I had not run further than 8 miles (once) since Outlaw but I had been regularly running shorter distances. I reminded myself that I am an Ironman and so I should stop fannying about and just do it. I put the question to Twitter whether to Morph or whether to go for a PB ie sub 2 hrs. The resounding response was the sensible 'go for a PB' or 'run one for yourself' so after careful consideration I of course opted to Morph it. The temptation is just too much and because the race had beaten me hands down when I first Morphed it in 2010 I felt it deserved to be Morphed again! It could also act as a good training experience in the build up to Morphing Outlaw next year! It was also on Channel 5 and I hoped to get Birmingham Childrens Hospital on the box!
And so on Sunday morning at 7am I found myself stood infront of the mirror cursing like a very angry person prone to excessive cursing when stressed, getting stressed about trying to put contact lenses in! I dont wear them usually I stick to glasses but I had a couple left over from Morphing VLM. By 8.30am I had finally put the bastard things in and it was not lost on me that many of the runners would complete the course faster than it takes me to put lenses in!
I travelled over with Kate, John and Gareth. I have run with all three lots of times but not for a while. They were all down to sub 1:45 half mara times so I knew I couldnt run with them. They were all starting from Green or Pink (the later starts) and I was starting in White (an earlier wave) so I thought that would even things out and we would probably all finish not too far apart. Parking, baggage, toilet break and start assembly all went very smoothly. So so so different from the organisational debacle that was 2010.
I walked down to White and got talking to a fellow Morph. Orange Morph Pete was running for MS. He had not run in the Morphsuit before so I gave him a few tips ie try to breathe, get used to not being able to see, be aware you dont take on as much water through the suit and cross your fingers the sun doesnt come out and we avoid rain (cant see and cant breathe). Finally, milk the crowd like a madman 'cause they love a Morph.He had done VLM (non Morph) in 4:30 so he can run. I offered him to run on when I slowed but he was keen to run with me.
Start was smooth and off we went.
I had planned on steady first half due to no lengthy training runs then see what I have for the hill at the end but in reality I got totally caught up in the atmosphere and weaved from side to side hi fiving everyone. We ran the 1st mile in less than 8 mins it turns out, something I felt on the course and deliberately tried to slow. Looking back I was too conservative, perhaps lacking a bit of belief, but also really enjoying it and running for fun. Hi fiving the kids or waving at them or scaring them back to their parents is great fun. The crowd were great and we had a lot of fun all the way round
I had the usual odd wobble here and there but nothing serious. It was great to get shouts from @dannytheblade ahead of me on the opposite side of the road on his way to a 1:50, @TJ1974 a Poppyfields supporter behind me on the opposite side of the road (a timely boost) and from Gaz as he motored past me around the 6 mile marker on his way to a 1:45!! Its also great to talk to and encourage other runners, hear their stories and share the whole experience.
Most of my thoughts come back to Outlaw next year and my determination to do it in a Morphsuit. Around mile 10 when hitting the hill with the sun in my eyes so I cant see I did wonder will it be possible. I am looking at 112 miles 8 hours on a bike in the suit and 26.2 miles 6 hours on the run in the suit. Can I keep sane and cope with it for that long? You know what? I've no idea. I somewhat doubt it. Will I have a go though? Damn right I will! Whats the point in doing it if it is easy?
I plodded said hill - it is a killer finish to a half but very satisfying when you then whizz the last half mile down Broad Street milking the crowd on the left while Pete milks the crowd on the right. 2:07 was my finishing time. 10 mins inside my last Morphing of Birmingham time and a hugely more enjoyable experience.
Could I have done sub 2 hours? I think so but I would have had less fun! Sub 2 hours is for next year with Mrs Brightside anyway!
The day was saddened by the awful news later in the day that a runner had died near to the finish. My heart goes out to his family. Although I didnt know the runner we all experienced the day together and its very sad to hear that someone trying to achieve something be it a personal goal or charitable effort or both, should die in their effort.
I was lucky enough to come home to my family safe and well but for the odd ache and niggle. Some cheekiness off the kids (apparently Orange Morph looks cooler than me!) and a proud hug off Mrs Brightside along with a post run snack set me straight.
Loads and loads of people achieved this weekend at Birmingham and Amsterdam and Abingdon and all over the place. Special mention to Anne Devanney popping her mara cherry at Abingdon and Martin Hookway and @MrAFletch doing a little 50 mile Saturday leg stretcher.
A great weekend overall with a big elbow of a reminder of our frailty. RIP Kevin Paterson. This is the BUPA Great Birmingham Run Statement: -