Time: 2:10:09 [Results Here]
After walking about like a cripple yesterday, I would be lying if I said I was feeling ultra confident about getting out of bed in the morning unaided, let alone running a multi terrain half marathon. In all honesty, if I hadn’t arranged to run with people in the first place, this could have been another dreaded DNS. But during the 8 minutes it took me to walk from my bedroom to the toilet for my morning slash (roughly ten meters), I had convinced myself that a ‘short run’ would help ‘loosen up’ the concrete pillars that were my legs. Ahhhh, blind faith.
I haphazardly chucked a selection of clothes into my duffel bag, along with some shampoo and deodorant (there were rumours of post race showers), and set about shovelling Weetabix minis into my mouth whilst browsing the BBC website and trying to ignore the fact that my hip flexors felt like they would, at any moment, snap. I was somewhat calmed by the fact that I may not be the biggest gimp in our group: one of us was just coming back from a foot injury, one was suffering with some ITB issues, and one had run 16 miles the day before. If anything, this race would be a social affair, not a PB hunting mission.
I was picked up just after 8:30am by Ronnie, despite texting him to say he could take as much time as he liked having his breakfast. I had to literally pull my legs into the car after me, and for some reason this was funny as hell to Ronnie, who, when he inquired about how I was feeling, was immediately told to ‘Piss Off.’ I demanded we stop at a gas station so that I could purchase some kind of sports drink, and I bought him a coffee (I’m not a complete bitch), before we continued onwards to Stonehaven to pick up Kate and Rhona.
Once on board, Rhona and Kate joined in our spirited discussion about what finely honed athletes we all were, and we arrived at Strathmore Rugby Club in Forfar with an hour to go before the start.
We all registered and used the toilets, before heading back to the car to get ready and slowly brave the elements by peeling off warm layers of clothing. We saw all the other runners warming up by running along one of the muddy paths, but we opted for ‘Olympic Kate Lifting’ to get the blood pumping:
It didn’t really work very well, because we all had numb toes and, I am convinced, the beginnings of hypothermia as we listened to the race briefing, had a minute of applause for one of the local runners who had passed away at the start of the year, and made our way to the start. I can’t remember hearing a gun or a whistle, but we realized the pack was moving forward, so we all set off!
We had all been e-mailed a few days before to let us know that the course had been altered this year. Apparently the notorious ‘water section’ of the course was deemed too unsafe, so the section was cut out, and a few more farm track/road sections were put in. We had also been warned at the start that the weather over the past few weeks had been pretty bad, and that the land would be waterlogged. This was no lie.
Within the first mile, Ronnie’s dashing new trail shoes looked like they had been on the business end of a dog with explosive diarrhea. The ground was wet, the mud was slippery, there were enormous puddles, and I felt immediate regret about not wearing my sealskin socks (dumb me), as Kate had done (smart lady).
Conversation flitted between weddings, Paris marathon plans, local running events, and being a fairy about your new trail shoes (ahem, Ronnie), and I spent so much time paying attention to where my feet were landing to notice too much of the scenery at the start. Then the course flitted between muddy trails and road sections, and I spent so much time paying attention to the conversation to notice we were on a slow (very slow) incline for the majority of the run!
This ridiculous incline came after one of the grossest sections of the course. While the traditional water section was scrapped, all runners were treated to an impromptu water section that took a good minute or two to get through, and consisted of thigh deep, freezing water, riddled with shards of ice. By the time we came out the other side, my legs felt as though they would shatter if I tried to run on them. But they did not shatter. It was around this point that we lost Ronnie. Despite our ‘team’ approach, we all thought he would eventually catch up, and we all felt that if we stopped, it would be too much of an effort to get going again. So we carried on. Up the horrible hill. We are a sucky team.
The top of the hill offered some beautiful views of snow-capped mountains in the distance, as well as the loch where we would finish. There is also a monument at the top, but we never found out what for – we were pretty ready to be done at this point and there was a piercing breeze up there.
Unsurprisingly, my hip flexors were screaming during the entire descent, and I knew I’d suffer for this later, but I just grimaced and carried on, because we were pretty close to the end. After the 12 mile marker, we started overtaking a few other runners and decided that we would finish in ‘team’ formation – a straight line – to symbolize our unity during the run.
Did I mention we were a sucky team? Of course it ended up as an accelerating-to-an-almost-sprint finish. But finish a half marathon we did. At least nearly. With the alteration of the course, the final distance was closer to 12.8 miles than 13.1, but you won’t hear any complaints from me about that. A couple of minutes later, Ronnie appeared, but from the wrong direction, having taken a wrong turn at the very end. He looked wiped out, and went to the car to sit down and eat something to recover:
We decided to go and clean up – and I completely regretted wearing my ‘good’ trainers.
We found the ladies changing rooms, and quickly realized that the ‘showers’ consisted of a room with a bunch of shower heads on the wall. Cosy. Sorry to disappointing any readers hoping for a super graphic description of women soaping each other up – we were very modest and showered in our underwear, before getting into warm, dry, clean clothes, and heading for the “legendary spread” of food that was promised on the Forfar Road Runners website. Unfortunately, as Rhona commented, we need to get faster if we want to enjoy a good selection of food. I grabbed a couple of triangles of egg sandwich and considered myself lucky to get anything at all. Then we had a beer and hung around for prize-giving while Ronnie and Kate got massages.
Once back in the car, we hunted down the 3 mile marker where Ronnie had dumped some gear during the race. My struggle to get out of the car and complete the 5 meter walk to retrieve his bag clearly provided quality entertainment for everyone still inside the car, if laughter was anything to go by. Yes, I heard you, you heartless monsters. Then we dropped Kate and Rhona off in Stonehaven, before cruising back to Aberdeen where I have since spent some quality time with my sofa.
I anticipate a painful spin class tomorrow.