October 2018

Oxford Half Marathon 2018

The Oxford Half Marathon is one I do each year with a group of family and friends as part of Team Liberty.

I was really impressed last year when Virgin Sport took over so I was super excited to have this race in the calendar, I’ve always PB’d at Oxford and we have the loudest cheer squad en-route to keep us going. This year I was a little less prepared with Berlin only three weeks before add to that I’d had a week of non-stop drinking on a hen-do and a mini-break as well as walking up Snowdon three days earlier…. Nevertheless the pasta and cheeky glass of wine went down well the night before – an Oxford half ritual.

The excitement started to build up as we were on the very early 7am bus from Witney to Oxford, teammates joined and we were on our way. Once in Oxford we met with more of Team Liberty – it was absolutely freezing, I even stopped feeling my toes as we waited for more members to arrive and have some photos together. Once we’d done our balloon release we headed indoors to warm up with some coffee (water for me) and drop our bags off.

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Next it was time to brave the cold for a few more photos and to head to the start area to find our pens. On the way, and though I left my visor at home, I bumped into a Team White teammate and stopped for a quick hello.

Lining up I started to feel quite sick with nerves – I’m not sure what I’ve done this a fair few times before but I suddenly felt quite ill. As the race started and I headed towards the start line (stopping for a selfie or two of course) I started to feel ok, though was desperate for the toilet – I knew I’d be stopping at the earliest opportunity.

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Crossing the start line there were loud roar’s from the crowd, I gave Danny Bent a high-5 as I crossed and was on the way. We all split up here, ready to find our own paces to get us through the next few hours.

From here on it was all a bit of a blur and the race went on quite nicely. I stopped at the first stop for the toilet and ended up standing queuing for a good couple of minutes. I’m not sure if they changed the course slightly this year as it felt loppy-er than usual in the first and second miles. This wasn’t a bad thing though as I got to see Team Liberty a number of times and we gave each other a shout and a cheer of encouragement.

Mile 8/9ish I started to feel grumpy. I was struggling. Well, I had been struggling earlier on with my ankles hurting like mad – likely from climbing a mountain a few days before, but as I went on I felt I was hurting all over. With the feeling sickness, I managed one gel, which wasn’t a bad thing but it’s likely I would have had more in me had I stuck to a better nutrition/hydration strategy.

It always gets tough through the University Parks though I was prepared for it and started chatting to those around me to make the time pass. Coming out at the end though, another story. Every year it creeps up on me – a short incline that I HATE. After the University Parks and just before you reach the main city and the crowds.

One moment that stuck out was a member of the crowd, who I will refer to as the heckler.

The Heckler: Just think if you had trained harder then it wouldn’t hurt so much.

My head: F**K OFF I DON’T SEE YOU RUNNING.

My mouth: Well that isn’t exactly encouraging anyway, how do you know I’m hurting!

Back in the city it was crowds, Team Liberty support members, my mum and Team Liberty finishers. I pushed through the finish line with what I think was a smile on my face…

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Official time 2.19.18 – a would-have-been PB hadn’t I stopped for the toilet. There’s always next year!

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One or two bug bears. Medals. So we received an email the day before advising that the medals had been held in customs due to one of the recent storms. Ok, a little deflating but what can you do. Yes, there should have been a back-up plan by the organisers but there wasn’t. Now, what really bugged me was a video I saw online, maybe on The Telegraph’s website. An interview with one of the organisers said the medals should have arrived THREE WEEKS AGO. Why only tell us the day before if they knew THREE WEEKS AGO! They will be posted out at some point though …

Some pointers:

I love the music that Virgin Sport have brought to this event, with regular bands throughout the course. Especially a shout-out to the soul DJ’s at mile 6 / 9.

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Cans of water at the end were great. It’s good to see a company at such a large sporting event take some responsibility for plastic-water. This was also apparent on the course with the lack of plastic bottles that they were giving out, in comparison to plastic bottles at every station in previous years, I only counted two water stations that had bottles, the rest paper cups.

The walk from the finish to the ‘finishers bag-collection area’ was a nightmare – 15 minutes or so, then back to the finish to meet everyone. Next year, they should have a funnel for finishers only and not friends and family so that we are out quicker.

A little disappointing at the lack of lucozade – I wonder if that might have given me more of a boost rather than the Nuun hydration tablets (which are great by the way if I was expecting them).

As usual the goody bag was amazing with a nice t-shirt to finish. The t-shirts came in women’s and men’s which was an added bonus.

All-in-all a great race, ending the day with a glass of prosecco and a McDonald’s on the way home!

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