On Sunday, I joined ~600 others and ran the Truro half marathon. I previously ran this in 2014 and was keen to see if I could improve on my last experience, when I ended up dragging myself across the finish line and not having much fun at all. This time around and all through my training this summer I’ve been consciously not avoiding hills, as is sometimes my want. My training has been really consistent and I’ve got some good long runs in at a comfortable 11m/m pace and so I set off on Sunday feeling nervous but also confident that I had (for once) actually put the work in for this event.
My verdict overall? A very well organised run with a great atmosphere, challenging route (they describe it as ‘hard and hilly’) and beautiful views. Check out that elevation chart!
The race started at 9:30 on Lemon Quay, with registration before. I didn’t want to drive and faff around with parking so got the train, which I thought would leave me really tight for time but actually there was ample time for picking up my number, dropping off baggage, going for a wee and getting a stranger to take my photo, pre-sweat. This is a big club run and I’d say around 80% of the runners were from various clubs across Devon and Cornwall. We gathered into a corral, there was an inaudible briefing, and then we were off!
There was a nice bit of ‘crowd’ (hah) support as we did a lap around the cathedral and back round to Lemon Quay before heading out along the river. It was a warm and fairly muggy day and I was rather sweaty almost instantly. My first mile was 10:18 as I got a bit carried away keeping up with everyone, so did try and slow a bit. The first hill hits really early on, which is when I implemented my tactical strategy: namely, run when you can, walk when you need, and don’t be lazy. (Left to myself I am the MOST lazy of runners and don’t push myself at all.) So anyway, along with almost everyone else in my chunk of runners, we walked up the hill, which comes out on to a really nice bit of trail.
The first water station came up really quickly, before 3 miles. I had maybe half a cup (side note: this race was plastic free! So the water was in biodegradable cups and at the end we got a CAN of water. This modern world.) and tried not to lose my pace too much.
The route was really beautiful and because I don’t know the area at all it was quite nice to just look around and enjoy it rather than knowing exactly where we were and how long was left. At one point we dipped down into a tiny hamlet right on the river which was completely idyllic. Just after halfway was an incredibly steep down-and-up hill through a wooded bit, which was super difficult to go down as the ground was all loose stones. And then at mile 7-8 we came to an out and back which was down a looong hill, then a u-turn and back up. It was a bit disheartening to see the faces of those coming back up the hill, looking defeated, but I didn’t find it too bad.
Before I knew it the mile 10 sign appeared and then with only a Parkrun to go I knew it was going to be ok! Thankfully I also remembered the final hill at mile 11 and so took advantage of lovely supporters, standing outside their house with a big tray of jelly babies and grapes, the perfect fuel. After that last walk up the hill, it was all systems go and I stuck to my ‘don’t be lazy’ rule, even managing to overtake people!
Mile 12 we came back down the first hill to the river again, and I was really fighting my legs and head to not walk at this point. A runner from St Austell came alongside me and I tried to stick with her for a bit before she peeled off at the last 0.1. Then, it was down and under the subway and back up to Lemon Quay, where the clocked showed 2:30 as I crossed the finish line.
Here’s where it gets really good. Yes I was tired, hot, sweaty, and pretty gross, but I didn’t feel sick or like my legs were going to fall off, no cramping or stitches. Amazing! A tiny child standing on a table hung a medal around my neck and another gave me my goody bag, which had a cute lil beanie hat, banana and water in, and I picked up some fruit from a stand provided by Tesco which was nice.
It turns out that I only beat my 2014 time by about 90 seconds, but the difference in how I felt was huge and the rest of the day was spent buzzing off the endorphins. Even the cat bringing a dead goldfinch in while I was in the bath couldn’t take the shine off. In fact, it went so well, I’m considering signing up for the Eden Project Half in 3 weeks time (if the £35 entry fee doesn’t put me off). Watch this space..!