(bit delayed putting this up!)
Inspired by Rob and Hannah’s tales of two halves, I thought I’d briefly tell you about the (not so) ‘Mad March Zoom 20’ event I ran y/day morning.
I’d signed up eagerly for this one a while back when my parents (who live in the New Forest) had asked me to look after the farm. Realising that I’d be missing the Regents Park 10k that day, and anxious about the marathon, I quickly looked for another race – settling upon this one because of its location and timing – and not principally distance; 20 miles being quite far away from what I’d otherwise have done!
I approached the race (with one of my sisters and a couple of her friends – all doing Paris) with the usual disclaimers in the front of my mind; I’d been ill the week before so not trained (arguably I’d tapered, though not through choice!), I’d been ‘house sitting’ for a few days (with a handful of cows, 30 sheep, chickens, dogs, geese, horses and a 93yr old granny, there really is no ‘sitting’ involved) and any other excuses I could think of. But I needn’t really have worried; whatever happened it was not after all the kind of distance you look for a PB, and should be approached rather as a well timed practice for the marathon.
At 10.30 a couple hundred of us set off through the small village of Burton and out into the minor agricultural roads behind it. Quite unlike the temperatures in Silverstone, it was actually a really beautiful morning, and got warmer as the time went by – generating the first freckles of the year! The race instructions had said ‘strictly no personal audio equipment’ – probably because of the fact we were running on roads in use. What this meant, however, was that my amicable virtual coach, who speaks to me every 5 minutes, had to be on loudspeaker. Fortunately, what made up for the embarrassment of her telling me very loudly what my average pace was and how close or far away I was from my target, was the fact that it being ahead most of the race actually turned out to be a conversation starter – I spoke to 5 or 6 very friendly runners from the south of England, all with different wisdom to impart about running generally and marathons in particular – one a barefoot runner (with the largest calves I’ve ever seen) and another improving his training using their heart rate alone. These mini conversations really livened it up and before I knew it I was nineteen miles and three gels later on the home straight.
We turned the last corner back into the village and I crossed the line at 2.48; a great confidence boost for a first time marathoner. Allowing myself time to gobble down some jelly babies and do a few quick leg stretches, I picked up my t-shirt and rushed off home to feed the cows!