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!
The 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……………………
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!