Today I kinda ran a half marathon. Tonight, I don’t even want a Gin. There’s the context for this blog.
Firstly, the good stuff. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Your words of support and encouragement over the last few months, since I started this crazy-ass idea, this morning before my first official half marathon of 2017 & throughout the evil that was the Coventry Half, helped me immeasurably. I’m not sure I would have finished otherwise. That sounds like a real DQ thing to say, especially considering I had hit the distance during training (Turns out I never had, by the way, but more of that later.)
That was, by far, the hardest thing I have ever done. Yep, worse than the Skydive and that properly ruined me. I was an emotional wreck for 4 days after I was launched from 15,000ft and I vowed never to do it again. After today, I’d be up in that matchbox with wings quicker than a whippet.
My alarm went off at 6.30am and I planned to wander into town for 8am to meet my friend Deyaine, who was coming in to cheer me out and back. I don’t like a fuss and had asked family to stay at home, thinking I was better doing it by myself. Deyaine wasn’t taking no for an answer; she’s as bloody stubborn as me! Thank you for being there Deyaine. Turns out I did need a friendly face at the end, after all.
A right niggley stomach cramp was the first thing I noticed. Joy. Was I destined to have a repeat performance of last week’s “woods incident”? I skipped breakfast, just in case, and settled for a brew.
The walk into town was quiet and the only other people about were heading in the same direction as me. Families, dog walkers, people on their own; they were all taking the time to support the runners.
3400 people signed up. 2876 finished. I was number 2734 to cross the finish line. But I nearly never made it that far.
What I now know to be bloody foolish, I did stuff differently on the day of the “race” which I hadn’t done in training. I wore a running vest which also doubled up as my hydration (filled with Pink Lemonade Lucozade). I had a lovely pre-race leg massage by the awesome sports therapy students at Cov Uni.
I wore new pink socks, with “cushioning” that I bought yesterday. I opted not to wear the new sports bra or pink leggings I’d bought for fear of having to break them in; I didn’t really want to be doing that during a run which didn’t have the option of me sacking it off and heading home early. Why I didn’t think to apply the same logic to new socks, massage and a vest is still beyond me.
One piece of advice for anyone starting running – don’t do it. Not the running part, well maybe. Don’t start a race in anything that you haven’t trained in. It can make or break your run. But, I didn’t know that at the time so I lined up.
Looking around, I saw the Cov City FC lege that is Dave Busst. I’d always had a soft spot for Dave and, since falling out of love with our local team, I haven’t seen his lovely face for years. Dave very kindly agreed to a pic and we had a little chat. Certainly brightened up my morning anyway.
9am arrived and we set off. So many supporters lined the street at the start point, all cheering and encouraging. Thank you to each and every single one of you who came out. It makes a difference.
I started really well, too well. By the time I got 2 miles in, I was shattered. Unusual based on training. 4 miles in and I was overtaken by Mrs Potato Head which I don’t mind admitting was a low point.
How can this be? I know that I struggle at the start of these long runs but to be overtaken by a potato? Some of the crowd laughed. I could have cried.
I had a proper word with myself but my own monkey was mocking me, too. Mrs Potato Head glided off into the distance. Who was in there, Mo Farah?
Little things started to bother me. The fact the roads weren’t completely closed. The number of people who had stopped to walk and, because only one side of the road was closed, took up the width of the space we had to run in. The voice of the Strava app coach telling me how shit I was. The other app telling me to speed up. We got into the countryside and the smell bothered me. Crazy, right?
There were lots of families lining the streets and offering extended hands to high five us. I used this opportunity to perk myself up a bit whilst also handing out the Team Margot wristbands that I ran with.
This helped. I remembered Margot. The amazing and brave little girl I was running for and why it was so important to complete this run. To raise awareness and encourage people to register to become a stem cell donor.
Mile 7 and I clock the potato ahead. I wasn’t going to be beaten by a sodding potato. I humoured myself by thinking of what I would do if it beat me. I pushed on.
Mile 10 arrived and I could feel a niggle in my left knee. Coupled with my new socks “cushioning” that felt like horizontal strips of razors digging in my feet and it’s fair to say I was emotional. Then my knee went. Just gave out. I stopped and inspected (prodded about a bit) but couldn’t feel anything so I carried on. The knee became a thing. It hurt, it felt like jelly. I stopped some more. Mile 11 and I was done. I felt sick, light headed and proper wobbly. This hasn’t happened before, maybe I went OTT on the Lucozade? I figured I’d get back but it’d be a slow ass walk, no more running. I started to check Twitter and FB. The amount of messages were overwhelming. The level of support and encouragement, both for my fragile state and for Team Margot, made me very emotional.
Until the crowd ahead starting cheering for Mrs Potato Head.
My language was electric blue. I got angry.
I knew I wasn’t going to get anywhere near the time I hoped for but I will not, under any circumstances, be beaten by that potato. I pushed on some more.
The finish line was in sight. A quick check over my shoulder and all was well. No potato.
I thought I was going to have a heart attack but I did it. 2:43:50. A whole 40 minutes faster than my last half effort in Manchester last October. I saw an email with a very generous donation from my friend, Em, and that was it. I needed to sit on the floor, on my own, and take stock of what had just happened. Deyaine found me and there were hugs all round.
The watch had me 0.5 mile short of a half. App central had me 2 miles over. Whatever, it was done. I wasn’t happy, and haven’t been all night. I had to go to bed when I got in, I felt completely off balance and really queasy. I still do now. My knee is grating on me something rotten and I don’t like how shit I feel. So, no Gin, no big celebration.
A friend of mine sent me a message on FB telling me that they had registered on DKMS to become a potential stem cell donor.
That’s all I need. I don’t want the medal I was given at the finish. To know that you have supported, shared my blogs, tweets & FB posts which has encouraged someone to take action to help save the life of another makes this all worthwhile.
Thank you doesn’t seem enough but thank you, I do.