I’ve been a little delayed in writing up this race re-cap, as I had been waiting to receive my official chip time for the Windsor Trail Half-Marathon. It seems that there was a problem with the timing mats and our times were recorded incorrectly (or not recorded at all). We have now received an apology (and discount voucher) from the race organisers, as well as provisional times for the half-marathon.
For my second half-marathon, I chose the Windsor Trail Half-Marathon as I love a scenic route and I love an excuse for a weekend away! Glen and I booked a B&B in Windsor for the Bank Holiday weekend so we had some time to explore the town before and after the race.
On race morning, we walked the half-hour journey to the race village in Alexandra Gardens. While Glen was queuing for the toilets, I met up with Stephanie and Katy for a quick pre-race chat.
We headed across the bridge to Brocas Meadow where the race began. The set-up at the starting line was very casual- a group was set off every 5 minutes and you were able to join in at any point as the waves were not based on predicted finishing times. Glen and I set off together at 8.35am, I joked around pretending to overtake him for a few metres, but he soon sped off into the distance.
Heading away from Windsor Castle, we followed the trail through a wooded area alongside the Thames. There was plenty to see along the route as we ran past canal locks, the gardens of riverside homes and a marina full of luxury yachts. I enjoyed my surroundings whilst concentrating on the uneven terrain underfoot.
The heavy rain from the previous day had left huge puddles along the path which I tried to hop across without slipping into the mud. At one point the runners ahead of me came to a standstill, as we were met with fallen trees blocking the path which had to be climbed over.
At mile 6 the route turned right and crossed a residential area before joining another trail alongside the Jubilee River. This part of the course was much less shaded and the morning sun was strong, I made a mental note to buy some sunglasses for running! My hayfever started to kick in and I sneezed and sniffed my way along the next few miles.
There were 5 or 6 water and fuel points along the route, gels were being handed out but I didn’t pick any up and went straight for the ice cold water. As the miles went on, I began to struggle more and more- my thighs were aching and negative thoughts were creeping into my mind. I felt disappointed in myself as my running pace was becoming slower and slower and I knew my aim of another sub-2 hour half-marathon was slipping away. I became so caught up in my frustrations that I forgot to enjoy the beautiful scenery around me. I forced myself to carry on running, but had to stop to walk frequently.
After mile 11, the course turned again as we were on the home stretch back into Windsor. I was thankful that there was just 2 miles remaining as my heart was not in this race anymore, I wanted it to be over and I wanted to sit down in the shade. The final miles seem to take forever as I alternated between running and walking, overtaking and being overtaken by the same runner who seemed to be struggling as much as me. The peaceful countryside trails seemed far away as we crossed a road-bridge alongside busy traffic to get back to the south bank of the river.
Finally I entered Alexandra Gardens and the finish line was in sight, I put on a brave face and tried to speed up for the last 100m. I soon as I collected my medal, I burst into tears- a mixture of relief that the half-marathon was over and frustration at myself for running what I felt was a slow time. Glen who had seen me finish rushed over to comfort me.
The time on my TomTom watch read 2:12:08, and the ‘provisional’ time I received from F3 Events is 2:11:26. I had put way too much pressure on myself to achieve a time goal in this race, forgetting that it was a challenging cross-country course on a warm day. I felt so ashamed of myself, but Glen dried my tears and reminded me that I had finished the race which was a huge achievement in itself.
After I had calmed down and caught up with Katy and Stephanie, we headed back to the B&B to shower, change and enjoy the rest of our weekend in Windsor. We had lots to celebrate as I’d just received news that our flat had sold after being on the market for 5 days, so a glass of prosecco was in order!