13.1 x 12 and all that……..

When I started this blog at the end of last year it was with the intention of writing a relatively light hearted documentary of my attempt to run a half marathon a month in 2017.  I still hope that this is something that it may become – but first off it needs to be an account of the way that life can get in the way of the best laid plans……..

I was sometime in November last year that Gill and I decided to take on this challenge.  Gill sent me a list of half marathons for the year.  The texts went something like this…..

Gill: Pick One!

Me: (having looked at the extensive list) Blimey there’s one for every week of the year!  Hastings – and Paddock Wood!  I fancy doing something a bit wacky – Bacchus in September? Weald Challenge or Tunbridge Wells?

Gill: Four?

Gill: How about a half a month?

Gill: I might die…….

Me: I like the idea of one a month!

Gill: Oh God……

And that was it…… somehow we were signed up

We both run regularly – so the challenge was to get “half marathon fit” and to maintain this for the year.  We got promises from friends and fellow Heathfield Road Runners to join us for some of the races along the way and we were getting excited.  There are not many half marathons in January (we only found 2 in fact) and so we signed up for the nearest one – the first running of the Farnborough Winter half marathon on 22nd January 2017 starting at the famous Aerodrome.

Through December we gradually extended our long runs 8, 10, 12 miles – the training was going pretty well despite the odd cold and the slight overindulgences of Christmas.  By the beginning of January we had both completed a 14 mile run – we were ready for Farnborough!

12th January 201710 days to go…………. 2am – I’m dreaming………… it’s raining.  Raining hard – there is a car alarm going off.  I come awake – It really must be pouring down – I’ve never heard rain that hard and there is a car alarm going off.  Why is there so much noise? Are there people out in the road? Was that an explosion? – Shut the window – need to go back to sleep!  I go to the window and I see it – flames out of the roof of the garage – I hear explosions and the “rain” is the tiles of the roof shattering……………….


David is out of bed – running downstairs and outside – phoning the fire brigade – “we need to get out of the house – get Sam up – get what you need” he says.  Sam is up and out of the house – running up the road in his bare feet – it’s his 21st Birthday.  I grab some shoes but don’t put them on – and a cat under each arm.  Caleb runs up the road but Arthur panics and runs upstairs in the house – there is no time to find him.  Suddenly I know what Harry Potter must have felt like when Gilderoy Lockhart magically removed his bones. As I turn to leave the house I cannot go the usual way as the heat is too intense (600 degrees we are told later) – I climb over the fence in my pyjamas – carrying my shoes – somebody lets me sit in their car to put my shoes on – David and Sam are around – everyone is panicking as we wait for the fire engine – please don’t let it spread to the house…………………

And they arrive – the Heathfield Community Fire Service are amazing – they are here within minutes and taking control – two fire engines (one from Mayfield) and a support vehicle – about 15 fire fighters…………………. I’m shaking – but once they locate the hydrant and start to work on the building I can see that it is coming under control.  Within half an hour we are allowed back in the house – making tea (about 30 mugs in total!!).  By 5.30 am it’s all over and the building is signed back to us……….

Immediately there is relief – nobody was hurt – we’re pumped full of adrenalin – we’re all safe – Caleb has come home and Arthur has appeared from under Sam’s bed.  The devastation is total – the garage and all its contents is destroyed and both our cars are burnt-out hulks…………… even the alloy wheels have melted.

It is the days that follow that are difficult – insurance companies – the dirt and the smell.  I understand the impact of these events – so there is no surprise that David cannot sleep.  I can sleep but I wake to the sound of car alarms – panic – heart pounding – wide awake.  Dreams of fires, bikes with melted tyres………………… My heart pounds if I go near the bedroom window and we avert our eyes as we walk past the ruin.  We talk about it to anyone who will listen (thank you to anyone who has run with me since then – I must have bored you senseless but you have helped me).  People have been kind – loaned us cars – thank you Julie, Ruth, Tom – where would we be without you.

Sam’s 21st birthday was a total wipeout – although Rosie came home that day to look after us – so we were all together.  We went to London the next day – burgers at Five Guys was Sam’s request – and a proper meal at Pilio in Heathfield on Saturday night – Happy Birthday Sam – you won’t forget this one!

So – what about Farnborough?  Well I can’t do it of course – I don’t know why – I just can’t do it.  Nothing is the same.  I’ll have to tell Gill – fallen at the first hurdle………………….  But then somehow we did.  Gill never asked and I never said – we just went ahead and ran 13.1 miles – but that is another story…..!

Running track for this month is “one day like this” by Elbow – waking up with a hangover…..