Well well well it’s wet wet wet. My sort of weather but not everyone’s ideal. I slept well and the bed didn’t want me to leave it this morning. Jackson had other ideas, as he scratches the downstairs door. He’s ready for the toilet and his walk, so I get up just after 7am. It’s pissing it down outside, the boy ain’t so keen now. I decide to have my porridge first and take a coffee with me. It wasn’t cold out but the rain was heavy, I realised my dog walking jacket definitely isn’t waterproof. Get back and have poached eggs on toast and a cup of tea. Babs is ready now and Helen turns up too. We have a chat, there both really nervous but Helen probably a bit more so. I go for a hot shower and get ready myself. Vest, shorts, new trainers and my S lab jacket today, oh and my black cap. I use my Etape rucksack as a joint baggage holder. This way I can get changed and give them dry stuff straight away too. We leave as late as we can to keep dry and warm.
Walking there in the rain, both Babs and Helen decided to run in there jackets. I see Petro and his wife queuing for the loo, there running together today. Never see anyone else though, which is different. Drop off the bag at the drop off point and go to the starting pens. On bigger events like this, they split you in to separate pens, all according to your expected finishing time. I picked the sub 1hr 40 mins pen. although I thought this was a big ask considering. I also thought I’d rather not have people making me stop suddenly. Once we eventually got near the start line, we start to jog. We cross the start, a few minutes after the front runners, I start my watch. Unknown territory for me. Not for this actual run or the distance but for the distance with my injury. I chose a name for it, his name is Bennett and he became my running buddy. I suppose he was also my pacer. He screamed if I pushed too hard and gently nudged me with approval when I didn’t, he never left my side. He could stop me whenever he wanted to. So it was in my best interest to keep him happy. I’d do is by getting around as quick as possible without over pushing. It became a game, and a good one. I found he kept me totally focused on my posture and technique. Any over reaching or heavy footwork and I’d get shouted at. I felt really good and my pace was loads better than I expected. Continuingly passing other runners. I just stuck to the plan and everything worked. Bennett gave me a right bollocking at about mile 9 though. Ouch! Did I push to much? Did I relax too much? I don’t know but he knocked my pace down, only slightly but I had no way of going quicker. If I did, Bennett would kick off, didn’t enjoy pissing him off. Reality strikes. Since standing in the start pen, for the first time I start to think about will I have to walk? Will I make things worse by keeping going? I feel lucky that Bennett has let me get away with this much. If he says stop. I stop. fact! He’s the boss and I’m in his hands, I trust him. Around this point a woman comes to my side. We have a chat and she points out her target, I laugh and tell her we have the same target. (When we run we all have targets to get too. Wether it’s a lamppost or another runner. Mine is other runners and so is hers) I say I’m taking it easy because of my back. She moves on and we wish eachother luck. By mile 10 Bennett has chilled out and my pace picks up. I pass her again, still on for the target, so I ask her to follow. At this point I never knew if she did or not. If I’m honest I wasn’t bothered, I had Bennett by my side. I pass the target (a young woman) and pick my new target. Then my next target, then my next. I was moving well, not at full pace but the fastest I’ve been since pre Bennett. The crowds have been great all day and the last mile was no exception. All out in the pouring rain, cheering everyone on, giving out jelly babies and high 5’s from the kids. As we leave Bishops road to do the last 700 meters, she comes past. So she was there. “Good ol’ gal, go for it” I say. I was happy to let her go but she was hurting, the last bits always the hardest. “Come on let’s do this” I say and point out a target. We take him, she points out a target. We take her, then we’re on the grass and saiming for the finish. She goes, I’ve got no sprint in me, Bennett would definitely take me down. Bennett was painful now but ok. The woman thanked me, I said that I didn’t do anything, she did it. She knocked a minute of her PB, well done who ever you are 👍. Buzzing! What great way to end the run. Got my t-shirt, drink, banana, flapjack and bag with my medal and leaflets in. Walked to the massage tent, then decide to get my rucksack first and put warm clothes on. A good idea too. As while queuing for the massage, plenty of people were getting really cold. To the point I felt really bad, as a young woman looked proper cold in front of me. I was really warm at this point, as I had a fleece on under my jacket. I insisted she took my jacket, she refused to start but was grateful for it and I better that I could help. Just told her not to nick it ha ha. I also realise she was the first target spoke about ha ha.The massage was really good too and definitely helped. Never got her name but she used to be a professional cyclist. The jacket woman kept to her word and after her massage, she came over and gave me my jacket. She thanks me and looked alot warmer. We had a lovely chat then a bit of an awkward goodbye, as I was getting my back massaged and we didn’t know eachother. I love them little encounters with people though. After my massage I go look for the girls. After a while I got cold. So I put my hat and gloves on. I then see a missed call off Helen, I call her back. They was at the massage tent queuing, so I go and meet them there. Give them warm clothes and take there wet ones. I headed home as was still cold. My route home follows the run route. It’s nice to cheer the other runners on, a hard day in the office today. These people at the back end have had the toughest day of all. There’s still a few smiles, so that’s good to see. Then a bloke on his own comes by. “Well done mate nearly there” then he starts walking just Infront of me. Another awkward moment, this time the meeting ha ha. “You ok” I say. “yeah, it’s been tough” he says. So I catch him up and we have a little chat. Then I say “come on mate, let’s run together” so that’s what we do. At this moment I feel amazing and privileged to run with this total stranger. It’s his first half marathon and I got to share a small part of if with him. I say this is me, as we get to Star road. I pat him on the back, tell him well done, shake his hand and say bye. I’m gonna definitely try to give more time to people from now on. It’s got to be the best thing we can do, leave you both feeling good. I thank trail and ultra running for this.
After food and warming up we all feel great about the run. Babs and Helen both got times they wanted and Babs would have got a PB, if her glute was ok.
Day 286 done 79 days to go.
1768.5 miles total.