This is a race I have wanted to run since I first got reacquainted with my trainers back in 2005… and I wasn’t disappointed.
Although the start in Perry Barr was delayed by 10 minutes, it made very little difference to my own half marathon performance. Having achieved a personal best of 1.48.18 in Leicester the previous weekend, I was keen to do well on home turf.
But less than one mile in the ‘undulating’ nature of the course started to take its toll, as runners pounded up several flyovers before reaching the city centre. My breathing was already laboured but as I had friends strategically placed along the course, I knew I had to keep on or face their jokey jeers at the finish.
After passing through Victoria Square and the Town Hall, it was on to familiar territory that I had run several times in training. And once I reached the Hagley Road, just after six miles, I felt my confidence return, but no sooner had that resurfaced than I was hit by a killer stitch – which lasted for about five miles!
My virtual running buddies Madness, the Blues Brothers, Madonna and Oasis kept me buoyed through Edgbaston, after the welcome downhill along St James’ Road and Charlotte Street turned into a never-ending uphill struggle back to the Hagley Road. It was here that I started bumping, not literally, into friends both running and spectating, although I had yet to see any other members of the Post and Mail’s team. And I wanted to keep it that way to the finish.
I have run dozens of races in the past, but I was surprised at how emotional the final straight was, with hundreds of people lining Broad Street to the finish.
Desperately searching for familiar faces while trying to maintain my race composure, I felt obliged to really step up the pace. My finish picture may not be pretty but at least I wasn’t overtaken by a giant Leprechaun or a gorilla.
As I crossed the line in 1.49.44 I was elated. And there were a few tears – but it was worth it. I’ll be back again next year.