Part 2 of the weekend of running fun- Cov Half and beyond…
Now, I am not known for my love of road running, so I was not filled with joy at the prospect of 13 road miles at Cov Half today beyond it being a reasonable training run and a chance to hang out with the wonderful folks of MFC. Some were really hoping for PBs, so it was great that weather was so perfect!
We met at the Godiva statue for a quick photo call before heading down to the start area, where we had to decide which time we were aiming for to get in the right pen. Straight away my road running claustrophobia kicked in, but it was helped by having Paul there with me and a few people around who seemed to understand personal space. Trail runners tend not to crowd one another. Ever.
Anyway, we were a little late in starting, but eventually off we trotted to do a small scenic circuit of the city centre. I was surprised already that I felt so good. Usually the first 2 miles of anything are awful, but I was pacing well and felt fresh despite the obvious bruises and strains from the Yeti the day before. At about the 2 mile mark, Paul had experienced enough of the plodding tortoise pace and decided to push on, which actually was the best thing for me. I stretched out ahead of the 2hour pacing flags and headed up one of the “hills” away from the city. Sorry to anyone that did think it was hilly, but seriously, that is one of the flattest half marathons I think I have seen. Maybe I have spent too long romping around mountains, though…
So, back to it- we were making good progress up towards Allesley, where my watch finally decided to wake up and start recording my efforts. 3 miles to get a signal is actually not bad for it at the moment.
Up through Allesley Village there were crowds and a band playing, adding to the lovely festival atmosphere we had been having since setting off. Then we turned towards the countryside and things got a bit quieter, but much more scenic! Gently rolling roads (sorry, still no hills- it’s not a hill if I don’t have to stop and walk with my hands on my knees…) cruising along in the sunshine felt wonderful. At about mile 7 I really needed to spend a penny, so I nipped into a portaloo… yes, those dubious smelling cupboards of half digested gels. This was the start of my nightmare section. I struggled to get my legs going again after the brief rest and getting a rhythm was painful. My adductors were pulling, my calves were hot and my knee decided to start whinging because everything had. No, I was not going to pander to these weaknesses again. I gathered myself over the next 2 miles and over rode the messages from my legs. Excellent. At mile 10 I decided to have some water. Awesome idea. Not. In someone’s infinite wisdom they had gone for the little water pouches that are popular these days- the ones you squeeze and the water comes out. Yes, I squeezed. Nothing. So I squeezed harder- about 100ml of water shot into my airway and nose at 100 miles an hour. I may as well have tried to mainline lava. I stopped and spent about a minute trying to breathe. It was horrible. No one should drown on a fine day while standing up. So I mustered the last of my resolve and told myself to get to the finish (cleaned up here from the original thought) to meet the lovely people waiting for my arrival.
Push. That’s all you can do sometimes, when there’s no real sense of motivation left. I knew it wasn’t far. I knew it was downhill. I dug deep and headed for the finish. I actually felt good going into the final stretch. My lungs were no longer processing water, my legs had got over their little tantrum and I realised I am an ultra runner and could probably do the whole thing again, but better. That’s the thing with running. You forget. You forget that you train hard for stuff. You forget that the body is an amazing machine. You forget that you love it.
Today I remembered much. Shame that most of it was at the end. I loved the atmosphere around the course. I loved the team spirit of everyone cheering everyobe else through, whether MFC or not. I loved having a bath afterwards. Such small rewards and such massive gains made by all. I am proud of every single member that ran today- some beat PB times, some didn’t, but we all got round and everyone smiled at the end. Just remember that feeling, because that is the best feeling in the world.