Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Review of Reading

I bloody did it!

13.1 miles, in 2 hours and 08 minutes.

My ankle ached like fuck for the rest of Sunday. The rest of my body ached like fuck on Monday. Yesterday and today, I feel fine. It's like I never ran 13.1 miles.

We stayed the night before at the Holiday Inn Maidenhead, for the bargain price of £33, thanks to Priceline. The hotel clearly makes its money up on breakfast (£14.95 each - no thank you, we went to get snacks from the petrol station next door instead) and it's non-nonsense minibar, with sensors (sensors!) to detect what you have removed. I was alarmed to see the room's previous occupants had drunk a bottle of fizzy water and re-filled it three-quarters full with tap water, thus avoiding a £1.95 charge. In order to prevent myself being accused of drinking it, I had to take this bottle of water to reception (miles away) to be examined and deducted from my bill. As my foot was still aching a bit at this stage, I had a small paddywhack, and insisted we order dinner through room service, so that if I didn't get to run, at least the weekend would have involved something else to tell the grandchildren about.

The next morning I didn't even want my smuggled petrol station breakfast. I nearly gagged when eating a fruisli bar due to nerves, and R eating a cheese and onion sandwich (at 7.30am - how??) didn't help.

Arriving at Reading station the next morning, we faced a queue approximately half a mile long (I kid you not - it was seriously long) for the shuttle buses. The good news was my ankle was feeling fine. My legs turned to little blocks of ice while waiting. Still, at least I had 3/4 length fleecy jogging bottoms on, not like the man in teeny tiny shorts stood next to me. But a 10 minute bus ride later and we were at the race site. There was a man with a megaphone scaring people by shouting out "come on - you haven't got time to have a piss and put your luggage on the lorries you know - GET MOVING YOU BASTARDS." Maybe his language wasn't so colourful, but it was along those lines. Clearly there was time, because I had a leisurely slash, and got my rucksack on the lorry with plenty of time to spare.

I then diligently headed for the "sub 2 hours 10" section of the line up area. Suspiciously there was hardly anybody stood behind me, even though I had a good feeling I wasn't going to be one of the slowest runners there. Cruelly, my section of the line up area was right next to a church, with a noisy god-squaddy choir outside, singing for the souls of the runners. Combined with the noise of the communal warm-up, and my MP3 player, it was a real cacophony. This was compounded by the fact that there was a 30 minute delay to the start. My legs re-froze. And I sniggered when the shouty megaphone man referred to us as "athletes". I have never been called an athlete in my life before!!

And then we were off. I could give you a running commentary of each mile, except:

I have forgotten most of it
It's boring, and
You don't care.

The highlights are - A pathetic weeny little hill at the end of mile one, described in the leaflet as a "notable climb." Notable climb my arse. Not as notable as Blackheath Hill. Living in SE London prepares you very well for hill running.
A spectator holding a dog in her arms, sat up like a meerkat
Catching sight of R in the distance (he deserted me after about 2 minutes) just after mile 5. I sprinted to catch up with him, tapped him on the shoulder, suggested we ran together, but he had to use the portaloo. (I ran ahead, and he never caught up with me - HA!)
Getting to the sign saying "mile 8" when I thought we were still at mile 7. That was better than sex I can tell you.

The low point was being overtaken by a group of people dressed as a giant centipede shortly after mile 10.
Miles 11, 12 and 13 were dire. My ankle started to twinge, my arches started to ache, and each mile seemed to get longer.

I burst into tears when I saw the sign saying "400 metres to go." I couldn't believe that after 2 weeks of "will I or won't I" I had actually done it. I sprinted the last 0.1 mile, through the tunnel into the stadium, over the finish line.

The organisers really talked up the 'stadium finish'. The stadium was less than a quarter full, and instead of getting to do a glory lap like I had imagined for the past six months, there was a scary man shouting out "move along now.... OI MOVE ALONG TO MAKE ROOM FOR THE ATHLETES COMING INTO THE STADIUM." So I was herded out through another tunnel, almost falling over because the ground beneath my feet felt strange when it wasn't moving at six miles per hour. First thing I was handed was a space blanket (which is now lagging our boiler). Then I had to hand over my small velcro timing chip. Then there were the medals. Much higher grade than the crappy race for life and UK10 medals I got last year. There was a line of three people handing our medals. Two were lobbing them at the spaced out runners, with barely a grunt. One was placing them sagely over people's necks and telling them "..... (*pauses*) well done." I opted to have him give me my medal, because I thought it would probably be the closest I ever got to an olympic medals ceremony.

Then it was over to the luggage lorries, where I realised that the three people I was running with were not there yet. I had beaten the lot of them! A minute later I received a text message from R saying "kill me now." He turned up about 15 minutes later, and I proceeded to jump up and down and go on about how proportionally I ran even faster as I am 5'6 and he is 6'2 so I had to take more strides than him. Now I feel ashamed at my juvenile attitude, although I occasionally still point at R and say "I was was faster then you!"

We managed a spectacular queue jump on the way back, avoiding a half an hour wait for the shuttle bus, which made the day just about perfect.

Now planning a complete month or R'n'R from running. Just a little swim tomorrow...

Ooh - and nearly a year ago, I wrote a post saying I had seen two nuns in the space of a week. I've seen none since, except today, when I saw another two. What are the chances of that happening?