If I were to give advice to someone else, on my list of 'things you shouldn't do when you're a bit of a mess' would probably be 'run a half marathon'. But then, I did that last weekend, so having clearly failed to take heed of that advice, it seemed stupid to not just run another one the following weekend. When there is no logic in a choice, sometimes you've just got to embrace the illogical.
So... today, I ran the Tissington Trail Half Marathon. I was so fortunate to be able to share a lift with Helen Waterfall (thank you for your lovely company Helen!), which helped to distract from pre-race nerves and nonsense. We got there nice and early. I was spectacularly underdressed. Who wears a t-shirt and shorts to run when it's pretty darned cold and you're running in the Peak District?! The answer is 'me'. Like a shivering fool. In between moaning about being cold, we got ourselves registered and sorted (three loo visits before the start - not bad going)... and then headed off on the bus which had been laid on to get people to the start.
By the time 10am rolled round and we actually started, I was shivering up a storm and could barely feel my feet. The weather was absolutely beautiful, but beautiful doesn't make cold any less cold, sadly! The views, however, were stunning. Once we set off I was hoping to get warm (this was obviously my main focus of the race rather than anything sensible like pacing) and ran off far too quickly and did the first mile in a stupid 7:52. My hands were freezing and instead of warming up, were growing painfully cold. Note to self: prepare more for a race than shaving your legs, making a veggie sausage sarnie to eat afterwards and putting vaseline on your toes.
That aside, as the runners thinned out, there was space to just concentrate on my own running and take in the views. The route follows the old railway line from Parsley Hay to Ashbourne and it is delicious. The trail cuts through rock, sweeps over fields lit in golden Autumnal sunshine, over bridges crossing small country roads... and silent except for the pattering of feet and the occasional bit of huffing and puffing from the runners. By mile 4 any bit of climb is really done with only slight inclines occasionally peppering the gentle descent towards Ashbourne.
As we went past the 6 mile mark, I noticed that I'd just done another couple of sub-8 minute miles and if I pushed it a bit, I'd get a sub-50 10k time, which meant that finishing comfortably sub-2 would be possible. So, I decided not to be a lazy arse and do my normal trick of slowing and slowing as I went and concentrated instead on keeping a nice even pace. Which then fell apart a bit by mile 9 which was my slowest mile by far! What didn't help was someone at around about mile 8 telling me that there wasn't far to go. Well, missus... you just run another 5 miles and tell me if that's not too far. Then we'll talk. So, you can see I was in giving up and getting into moany mode by this point!
Gave myself another stern talking to, ate the sad little date I'd brought with me for a bit of an energy boost, and caught up with a guy I'd been chatting to before the race started. He was much faster than me but having problems with his calf muscles so had slowed a lot. He'd settled into an 8 minute mile pace and so I decided to keep him in sight. Between him, me and another female runner, we covered the next couple of miles fairly quickly... although all I could think when we passed the 11 mile marker was 'do two more 10 minute miles and you're sub-2'. Which actually was my normal 'stop trying, give up and walk' brain starting to talk to me a bit too loudly and I could feel myself easing up.
I mentally told the voice to eff off. Got my legs moving a bit more... and concentrated on enjoying running under a tunnel of trees instead. The very last bit of the half marathon was almost in sight as we passed mile 12. The thought of being able to stop running within the next 10 minutes was just about the only thing that kept me going. That and the fact that the other female runner who was near me had taken to calling out the distance left to go every half mile, so once she bellowed 'half a mile left', I knew I could hang on for what would be a maximum of 5 minutes.
The thing they don't tell you about the route is that at the very end. Just before the 13 mile marker... you go down a fairly steep slope. Mirrored by a fairly short steep hill on the other side. Which your weary legs think has been sent from hell to push you right over the edge. If there hadn't been a few people at the top of the stupid, short, mean hill then I quite fancied walking that bit! Instead, I couldn't lose face, so hauled myself up it... past the 13 mile marker... and... finish!
1:46:59 chip time. And my hands were so cold, I couldn't even move them to take the medal out of its little cellophane wrapper and plonk it around my neck!
An absolutely lovely route. My ankle is wrecked. But Helen is awesome and had painkillers in her car. And you know what? I felt lucky to be able to run through the beautiful Peak District on a sparkly morning in October.
And I haven't felt lucky or that kind of happy since the accident. I may have been a stubborn idiot to not stop running after it happened, but today, I got to be a happy stubborn idiot... and even though I know that things are still really hard (got to the end of your road before turning into a panicky mess, Helen!)... this morning, I got a bit of me back. And I'm so grateful for that.
Geeky stats stuff
|Avg Pace:||8:10 min/mi|
|Elevation Gain:||281 ft|