January – Farnborough Winter Half Marathon

Sunday 22nd January 2017 – 6am

It’s freezing (well – below freezing -5 degrees in fact)

It’s dark – I walk up the road with my torch to our meeting point.

Colin has defrosted and scraped the car for us – thank you!

Gill is driving through the freezing fog – we look at each other – “whose idea was this?” – I’m sure it was yours Gill…………. But anyway – we’re off – past Gatwick – M23 – M25 – yes it is Farnborough in Hampshire – not Farnborough in Kent.  The usual toilet exchanges that pass between runners before a race – did you get up early enough? Shall we stop at the services?  Will there be enough portaloos when we get there (probably not as they never get it right the first time)?

This will be the first running of the Farnborough winter half marathon – and our first half marathon of our 2017 challenge.  We’re excited.  I realise I have done none of my usual research before the day – I’ve not looked at the route, or the climbs (I have had other things on my mind) – so Gill talks me through it.  It starts at the famous Aerodrome, and yes, there are some hills!  We arrive with plenty of time and pick up our numbers – it seems well organised – but Race HQ is outdoors and it is FREEEZING – and yes – there are portaloos, although not that many, and guess what?  They’re frozen!  Not what you need for a pre-race tummy……………….I’m sure you can imagine!  We’re huddled in the doorway of a nearby office building trying to keep warm before the start when someone with a key lets himself into the warm………..

Gill: “can we come in and keep warm?”

Nice Man: “I haven’t seen you…………….” And he leaves the door open behind him……

We don’t have to be asked twice!

We can get changed in the warm – pack our bags – eat our breakfast/pre-race snacks and – extra bonus – we have a whole row of clean flushing toilets – pre-race heaven!!  We feel only slightly guilty as we watch the frozen people outside staring in at us.  So as we drop our bags and line up at the start we are almost warm – and ready to go!

fwm-routeThe race itself is a mixture of road and off-road – interesting.  The first 4 miles or so loop around the Aerodrome – criss crossing – over some cobbles which are not that comfortable – but then out in a big loop through woodland and along the canal – lovely countryside – before returning to the Aerodrome for the finish.  There are hills – but when you’ve trained in Heathfield they are not too bad.  Oh! but I find the run tough…………… Just plain hard!  I probably have too many clothes on (mental note for future cold runs).  Gill and I run the first mile or so together and then settle into slightly different paces – waving as the route crosses.  I’m never in danger of not finishing – but it’s never easy – 2 hours 11 mins – that’ll do for number 1.  Gill finishes smiling – looking like she has energy left for a sprint to the line – she’s taken her coat off – very sensible.  She has picked up a youngster running her first ever marathon who she had found in tears at 10 miles – and also a rather attractive policeman (they really are getting younger).  All in all a great start to the challenge – but I  need to do some thinking about training and recovery……………………

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I don’t remember much about getting home – thanks for driving Gill – I’m not sure I could have….. I feel sick – lie in the bath – on the bed – watch a film – cry!  I’m not used to this.  And this is only one of twelve – what am I going to be like by December?





The next day Gill sends me a link to this article from Runner’s World – about planning to run multiple long races in a relatively short period of time.  I realise I have already flouted most of the advice – but there is still time to get on the right track.  The article talks about the importance of planning to run 12 half marathons in 12 months NOT a half marathon a month – there is a difference!

Eat well, sleep well , reduce life stress, get a massage or two, and be diligent about total body flexibility. Cross train.

Since the fire I have slept poorly and lost almost half a stone – and don’t talk about stress – these things have taken their toll.  I had very little spare to run the race – but tomorrow is another day and next month another half marathon…………….  Follow our progress!

Running track for this half marathon is The Arctic Monkeys – “When the sun goes down” – not because it was a dodgy neighbourhood or I’m trying to make any clever comparisons between running and prostitution – but there is a line in there about how it feels to be out in the winter without sufficient clothing…………………..  I’ll let you find it yourself!

3 thoughts on “January – Farnborough Winter Half Marathon”

  1. Your anxiety about pre-race logistics struck a major chord with me: last weekend I ran the Chichester 10k which was starting and finishing for the first time on the Goodwood race circuit. That was a big pull for lots of entrants – so many that they couldn’t close the approach roads in time for the posted 10:00am start – but the Big Sin for me was that the postponement for 15 minutes was announced (1) by word of mouth rather than loudspeaker and (2) only at 09:55! By this time, of course, all my warm clothing was in a numbered plastic bag at the Bag Drop and I and almost 2,000 of my closest friends were shivering and stamping our feet. We were even less happy when there was a second 15 minute postponement to 10:30. GGGRRRRRRRR!! All that careful timing of re-race nutrition, warm-up, toilet visits and so on was blown. Still – it was special to run around the Goodwood circuit 🙂

    Your time of 2:11 was not bad! Well done. Especially on a hilly course. How are you going to prepare for the next one (other than cross-training like mad)?


    1. Oh no! What a nightmare! Still – sounds like a very historic and exciting venue – I hope you enjoyed it (did I see you were doing it with Paul? Used to run with him on a Sunday from time to time!). I did Windsor half last year and that was late starting! Fortunately Farnborough was very well organised and we started on the dot of 9am!! I’ve done a 11 miler last weekend – and now I am resting as I have hurt a hip flexor (running in the cold – without a warm up!!) which is only going to get better with rest and ice – so I will hit (I hope) Tunbridge Wells next weekend well rested but undertrained – am going to take it very slow and easy!


      1. I’d have entered the TW half except I’m away that weekend. Never mind – take the Fordcomb hill steadily. You’ll be fine, I’m sure. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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