If there was a higher power guiding my life, I would say that today, it decided to teach me a lesson for lack of faith and ignorance. When I was unable to sign up for the Great North West Half Marathon, because I was too late, I refused to accept this fate; instead of saying 'oh well, not to worry, it's only one race amongst many- I'll do it next year.' I thought 'I bet I can sign up on the day, there's bound to be some runners who drop out.' and I promptly hot-footed it to Blackpool.
I say 'promptly' but I did, of course, wait for the day of the race before setting off to the great, grey British seaside resort; which was today.
At 7am, I leapt from my comfy, warm, delectable bed and sped my way to Blackpool promenade. Where, by 8.30am I was a fully fledged, legitimate racer. I idled away the next few hours, waiting for the other Oldham and Royton Road Runners by drinking tea and reading various intellectual material (not 'Now' magazine... No, no, no, not me... I very definitely didn't read 'Now' magazine because I'm a cheap skate and it was only 65p!!) in the bar of the Hilton hotel.
At 11am, after a swift mile warm up along the seafront, and another toilet stop, we were off. To begin with I felt really good: I was running at 9.25 min mile pace and feeling quite 'bouncy'. However, the title of this post includes the word 'disaster' so I'll spare you the full exposition and get straight to the problem. At mile 3, my l knee 'went'. By that, I mean it kinda twanged and my leg collapsed a little beneath me. Obviously I stopped to stretch it out. I stretched, walked a little, tested it with a little jog, decided it was fine and continued. Only it wasn't fine. As I hit another undulation in the pavement, my leg did another collapsy dip.
Now, at this point I probably should have stopped running. I didn't. Obviously. And don't look at me like that, you know you wouldn't have either! You see, there were 3 reasons not to:
1. I got up at 7am in the morning to do this run. 7. 7AM. On a SUNDAY!
2. I was always going to be last out of the club runners in this race, but last gets you 1 point. Dropping out just gets you to Loserville!!
3. Running 13.1 miles earns me over 1,300 calories... That's more than a day's worth of guilt-free, fat-free food... I wanted those calories burnt!
So, I adjusted my pace once again and bedded in with the 2hrs11 pacing team. This strategy took me another 7 miles until, at mile 10, the same undulating path caused me to pull up once again and I waved my pacemakers a fond farewell. By now, this race had turned into one of the longest in the world and I was really starting to struggle, so thank goodness for Asheela who pulled up alongside me, at mile 11, and started chatting. Having run 4 marathons, and in training for her 5th in London this year, she provided a good, steady pace, great company and a much needed distraction from the pain in my knee for the last stretch and I can't thank her enough for that. If you know Asheela from Leeds, please pass on my gratitude!
And so, hobbling over the line, I proudly received my goodie bag.
Well, thank goodness for goodie bags I say. As very quickly, the pain in my knee became accompanied by a pain in my stomach which was threatening to show me it's contents despite my reassurances that there really was no need; I had seen everything that had gone in, in a far more pleasant state only a few hours earlier. We entered battle. My stomach vs my mind. Unfortunately, whilst driving on the M61 at 60mph, only 1/2 mile from the safety of a service station, my stomach won. I won't give you the puke-filled gory details but needless to say, it's quite hard to vomit into a goody bag whilst maintaining full concentration on the road. I mainly missed the bag. However, I did manage to empty it of my medal before the evacuation... There's a bright side to everything!!
Putting everything into perspective, and with the power of hindsight, I now think that maybe I'd have been better off staying tucked up in my lovely, warm, comfortable bed this morning; then again, if I had, there'd have been a far less interesting story to tell. And I wouldn't have earned myself 1 whole championship point and a medal!