Sunday was Oakley 20 – a 20 mile event that takes place in an undulating area. I was not looking forward to this at all. I have run it twice in the past and have hated it both times. In addition I told someone from the club that I was running it and he basically said it was a bad idea. Me being me convinced myself that it would be a good idea as a good confidence builder for me should it go well. If it didn’t then……….(lets not go there!)
As I was getting ready to leave I managed to slice my finger on a blade as I was getting something out of a cupboard. Not a good omen.
My Garmin watch strap has broken. Then I left it in the car……so I had to go back for it, I left it in my bag after handing it in…….I had to go back for it. My finger started bleeding everywhere……..no-one had a plaster. Nothing was going my way at all. (Well it wasn’t raining I suppose!)
I am hoping that I am not the only one who remembers bad parts of runs in minute detail? Once we arrived and parked (on the verge of a road) we made our way down to the start which was quite a walk. All I could think about was how it was all down hill which meant that we would be running up it, twice. It was one of those hills that I had given up on previously.
One thing in my favour was that I was lucky enough to have the lovely company of my brother. He is a lot faster than me normally but he very kindly decided to run with me. This was so awesome of him. He is completely mad (like me?) and so was very entertaining. He also had loads of stories to tell me about running the super challenging marathons that he runs and would like to run. This all passed the time well.
Letting it all slip away
About a mile in 2 St John’s ambulance men passed us on their bikes. I will go and get a plaster for you he said as he sped up to catch them. They were lovely but it did seem to take quite a long time to get a plaster on my finger (about 2 minutes) and all the time I was standing still people were streaming past. I began to think that we would be so far behind everyone else they would all have gone home. Of course they hadn’t in reality.
The good thing about it was that once we started up again we were actually overtaking a lot of people as their pace was that much slower than ours. I also hadn’t realised that there are some people who set off with the idea of walking up all the hills, right from the start and not just when they can no longer face is as I usually do. This made me feel a bit better as I knew I was strong enough to tackle most of the hills.
Waiting for the tumble
It was quite a hot day and there were water stations every 3 miles which we took advantage of. Early on the miles ticked by nicely. I was still quite stressed as I was waiting for everything to come crashing down, specifically I was waiting for particular areas in the race to come up and bite me.
The race consists of one long loop of about 13 miles and then one shorter route. I knew that I could get around the first bit Ok. It is the second loop where I have trouble. As we approached the end of the first route I kept telling myself that it will all be fine. I am strong…..Eventually I passed the first hurdle, and then the next. I am not saying that it was easy but I was still running. I was determined to get further along this year before stopping. I wanted a PB.
As we entered the part of the race where I had never before managed without walking I began to dare to think that I could do it although I was getting a bit tired now. My brother kept singing you can do it, you can do it….(from the film and reminded me to pick my feet up, all of which helped.
7 miles to go was the worst bit as it is still another hour of running to go and I was also beginning to tire. My mind began to play nasty tricks on me. As we got down to 6, then 5 I began to wonder if I was going to make it. I knew that there were some killer hills in the miles 16-18 and kept thinking that if I could get through these I would be OK. My family had come to support me and kept trying to ring me….I had no energy to answer their calls in this race but at mile 19 did manage to pull my phone out. I had not stopped yet…..
Nor was I going to! I ran the whole way. How I managed it I don’t know but I was so chuffed. My watch said I did it in 3 hours 23 with my official time being 3 hours 25 (that plaster!!). That is a PB of over 20 minutes. Chuffed? You bet. Stiff? Absolutely. 🙂
The gamble had paid off. I am now in a really good place for the London Marathon but for now…..TAPER time.