Sunday morning was time for the annual Marlow Santa Fun Run, except this year as well as the logistical challenge of doing the run with three kids (Iona and on scooters, Hamish in a buggy) there was the additional logistical challenge of a Party we needed to get Iona to. The party of course happened to be at a cinema so arriving fashionably late wouldn’t be the done thing.
We managed to get a free parking space at the Marlow Sports Club which was handy and do a fast trot over to the park where the race started just as we were rounding the corner, having managed to get everything in order on the way to the park we were good to go, the mission was simple, I would run with Iona and go as fast as we could, once finished I would then get her to the party, Octavia would run with the buggy (and Hamish) and Nell on her scooter. Getting to the race slightly later we pushed through the crowd watching and with a shout over my shoulder of ‘good luck’ Iona and I joined the steady stream of Santa’s running past (just 2000 all dressed up)
Iona was on a mission, knowing there was a party to get to she set a fast speed, whilst pushing the noisiest scooter in the world to record pace we based out the first couple of kilometres in 5 min 30 second pace, yep I was at max HR the whole way round (more junk miles) We had some great shouts of encouragement as we went around the course, my favourite being “Keep up dad!” as Iona led the way round with a big grin on her face. In spite of swiping my beard and wearing my Santa hat Iona was recognised by a few people which was nice. Counting off the kilometres was good fun and there were a couple of times where I had to ask Iona to slow down as the pace she was setting was blistering. We stopped for a couple of minutes at the water station to give me a chance to catch my breath, and allow my pace maker a chance to drink some water without wearing it, and then we were off again, heading back to Higginson Park.
The only time Iona slowed down aside from the water stop was when she spotted a Santa being sick by the side of the road, amazing how kids can always spot things like! As we entered the park and the final 200 meters Iona pulled ahead by 5 seconds, enough of a lead when she crossed the line that she’s been saying ever since that see beat, which I guess she did. Having completed the warm up race, it was time for the race to the party, and here it was that Iona finally slowed down as I carried the scooter back to the car. In the process of heading to the cinema we of course got stuck behind every Sunday driver in the area, but thankfully made it in time for Iona to join her friends. Now I just head back to Marlow to pick up the rest of the family ;-)
Oh and my time? 29 minutes 48 seconds, Iona of course was 29 minutes 43 seconds ;-) According to the GPS the course was 5.25km and we both stopped at the water station, so a pretty pleasing time, even if the effort felt like it might kill me!!
So on Sunday with the thought running through the back of my mind that I was completely under prepared for what I was about to undertake, I and 999 others toed the line for the start of the Marlow Half Marathon. This was my third run of the course and probably with as little preparation as I’ve ever had for a race. 13 odd hilly miles would soon find me out.
Training had been going well until a run of three hard weeks at the office, followed by dark and wet mornings put pay to the fact that I was able to do 12 – 16km without feeling too bad. So this was going to be the longest distance I’d run in a couple of years, what could possibly go wrong.
With a rather lame “whoosh” and a feeble “bang” Guy Fawkes set us off for the run. The first few kilometers are a steady up hill run and good introduction to the course, the weather was almost perfect, cold but sunny but maybe a bit windy. I was aiming to complete the course and hoping to get around in under two and a half hours, my training had gone *that* well and I had a good idea of how well (or badly) I was going to do and what I was capable of doing, still it would be a good test of mental strength.
I enjoy the course, it’s a lovely run through the Chilterns and reminds me that I’m lucky to live in such a nice location, however the scenery can only distract you from the fact you’re running 13 miles a certain amount. I ran pretty much alone most of the race after the first couple of kilometres which I quite liked, had a couple of people that I would go past on the downhills (if you’ve just run up it, you’ve earned the right to let yourself go on the way down it!) as they were more cautious than me only for them to go past me again when their more consistent pace caught up with me again. I only walked one of the hills and it’s the steepest climb of the course and 13km into the run.
I hit a bit of a wall around 16km, and had to have a quick word with my brain, after all the only way I was getting home was to complete the course, so might as well run it! Even if that meant another 5km to go (approximately a further 30 minutes)
There was also an incident on the course where a Land Rover defender passed by me in close proximity at what I would consider excessive speed for the lane, never mind the fact it was dotted with runners, the pass not helped by the driver seemingly forgetting the dirty great trailer he was towing. Sure enough 200 hundred metres ahead of me he managed to clip a couple of runners, no real harm done, but a warning to all of us that we share the roads. I checked the two fallen runners were ok, they were, and continued on my way past the now stopped Land Rover whose driver was in heated discussion with a runner. It was good to note that when he passed me and the runner ahead he was considerably more careful about it the second time around.
Closing in on the final hill it was time to dig deep for the final push ahead of the 3km drop back into Marlow. The final descent was lovely, the course almost complete and I was able to use the downhill to knock out my fastest km of the race, cheating a bit, but it felt good, I even managed to out sprint someone for the line.
So whilst my time might have been slow, it was a better time than I had anticipated and teaches me some important lessons:
You get the time you train for.
If you always run at the same pace, you’ll race at the same pace.
Cut your toenails before running any great distance.
Don’t wear trainers that you have only done 10km in prior to the race.
Obvious maybe, but experience teaches you to recognise a mistake when you make it again ;-)