I’m not a natural runner, nor am I blessed with any motivation to get better at it without a tangible goal in front of me, so I signed up for a half marathon, to force myself to get out and do some training (then I didn’t do any training).
My brother kindly volunteered his services as my pacemaker and on Sunday morning we headed to Windsor for the start of the Down Tow Up Flow Half Marathon, running along the tow path to Marlow.
I felt nervous at the start so I was glad to get moving, and pleased that the day was slightly overcast and true to the forecast of “cooler than of late”.
Of course this forecast was a pack of lies and by a few miles in it was boiling.
By 8 miles in I’d had one gel, drunk 2 cups of water and poured another 3 cups over my head and 1 (accidentally) down my front. I felt very sick and eventually thought I would actually be sick, so we stopped at some bushes. A beetle took the opportunity to land on my leg and bit me, drawing blood. Exactly what I needed! I swatted it away but it bit my other leg. I felt slightly less sick so we carried on.
My lack of training was apparent and I felt absolutely knackered. Chris kept telling me to lift my head up as I cut a forlorn figure when I’m tired, and I tried to concentrate on matching my steps to his.
I’d also noticed that my right hand had gone funny and as well as feeling quite numb it looked a lot like a claw, like it did after my accident last year. It’s never done this before – I wonder if it was the heat, lack of fluids, hatred of running?
11 miles in and I felt ruined. I kept trying to walk and acted like a petulant teenager when Chris encouraged me to keep going. There was no shade at all and I was hot, tired, worried about my claw hand, trying to remember to keep my head up and to stop thinking about the pain in my hip.
We ran along a gravel path, between some white picket fences. Suddenly I felt myself falling, I’d tripped on something. I fell for seconds, minutes, hours: a Matrix of time trapped inside one movement. I landed on my hands and left leg, but my hands seemed only a bit bruised and my leg, once I’d picked the larger bits of gravel out, was okay. Chris helped me up and we ran to the water station conveniently located ahead, where he threw cups of water over me.
I’d really wanted to beat my half marathon PB and when I realised that I wouldn’t the final bit of motivation left me, even a field of cows with a tiny calf didn’t cheer me up much. We passed a sign saying 500 metres to go and Chris kept encouraging me (I, personally, would have pushed me in the river and run off) and I felt like the course would never end. 13 mile mark – and suddenly the end was right there.
We ran, we crossed the line, we smiled, the medics picked all the rest of the bits of gravel out of my leg and then we went to get an ice cream.