Blog #200; It’s amazing how much you can pack into 6 weekends!

Posted on: 03 Jun 2019

So 6 weekends ago was the Virgin London Marathon and normally after the build-up and the adrenalin rush of such a momentous event that there can be a bit of a crash afterwards, I decided I wasn’t going to give myself the opportunity for that to happen; but may have overdone it slightly!

The following weekend I was back in London and for nothing vaguely running related, it was a belated 50th Birthday celebration with my good friend Karen where we just over-indulged on food, drink & gossip all weekend; it was lush!

The following weekend was back to the old routine of running and as a last minute decision I entered the inaugural Hullavington Half Marathon.  Hullavington is very close to where I live, the weather looked perfect for the day, the route seemed to be gently undulating through some picturesque Wiltshire villages, race HQ was at the pub and there was free cake at the finish; what was there not to like!  I knew 2 weeks after London I didn’t want to ‘race’ it and couldn’t have even it I’d wanted to so when the opportunity arose to run with Ryan who was being guided by Frank that day I jumped at it.  Ryan tragically lost his sight in his early 20’s and only has total blackness and I have to say after running this race with him he is so totally inspiring; his only complaints were the same as the rest of us, mainly where is the finish line and the cake!  The race was absolutely brilliant and I would definitely run it again!

It was then onto another half marathon the following weekend, this time off road and very lumpy; The Ridge Off-Roader.  The race starts and finishes in my parents village so with HQ being a 3 minute walk from their house it seemed rude not to run it!  Again it was another beautiful day and I have to say it is one of the best organised races I have taken part in; the lead up to the race on social media was superb, race HQ had everything and was so friendly, the route was so picturesque throughout with no boring bits and being the Chilterns it was very lumpy in fact much lumpier than I anticipated!  The race is organised by the local school to raise funds and I think many races could learn a lot from them!  So with tired legs and another marathon looming my plan unusually was to take it easy and just enjoy the scenery and views!  Within the first mile I had struck up a conversation with 3 lovely ladies from Silverstone and from thereon we stuck together chatting, taking photos, stopping to chinwag with the wonderful marshals and just thoroughly enjoying the race.  It was definitely a feel good race!

4 weeks post London I was then off to Liverpool for their Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon.  I travelled up with my bestie mate Liz who was embarking on her first (and she says last) marathon, she chose this one as Liverpool is where she comes from.  We were also meeting my roommate from my Kerala cycling trip there, Sharon, who was also embarking on her first marathon after we were chatting in India and she got caught up in my excitement of running marathons!  The short story is that we all ran our marathons and Liz & Sharon are still talking to me!  I have to say the Expo was very well organised as was the whole baggage drop, where they had Police sniffer dogs checking every bag before you were allowed in.  We all met up before the race start, last words of encouragement and we went our own ways to our various start pens.  The weather was a little grey and drizzly so not great for spectators but in fact perfect running conditions.  There was music near enough every mile which was a great boost, it wasn’t always live bands and sometimes you could be unfortunate that a band could be between songs as you went by but it really was motivational.   I also actually loved the variety of the route; city centre, football grounds, parks, residential and waters’ edge and it was undulating too, I wouldn’t say it’s a PB route though.   I also loved that I saw so many people I knew out on the course; Liz at the out and back around Everton and she was smiling even though she’s a lifelong Liverpool fan, Sharon on the out and back around 18 miles and she too was still smiling, Elle who I met on a Running Crazy trip in Barcelona and Dave who I also met on a Running Crazy trip.  The biggest surprise was our one and only fabulous Vicki who suddenly popped up at the halfway point and a little further along; what a wonderful surprise, a very needed hug and some perfect words of encouragement as I was hurting a bit from being tired! 

At around 20 miles I met up with Dave again and he’d mentioned he was having a gentle jog around so I asked did he fancy dragging me the last 6 miles which he effectively did; running just in front of me so I had a target to catch.  The last 4 miles are along the waters’ edge and all I can say is that River Mersey is a really windy place and of course it was a head-wind for every step of those last 4 miles!  You could literally see runners shoulders slump as they became disillusioned with the battle of running into a headwind at the end of a marathon, especially as by now we had beautiful blue skies so instead of rain and coldness being an issue, sun and wind burn were the new problem!  I thought I was going to beat my London time but in the end the wind beat me and I finally crossed the line, arm in arm with Dave, in 04:25:19.  So my 50+ PB remains London (I am now working on a new PB system; post 50!).

I enjoyed Liverpool so much I’ve already entered for 2020!

So my final running adventure for this Blog was at Runfestrun this weekend; a festival combining running, talks, activities, stalls and live music.  This is the brainchild of Chris Evans and Vassos Alexander and was run over the weekend at a stately home just down the road from me so even though I could only go Friday I wanted to get involved and as all the local running clubs were contacted to see if we could help marshal it was an opportunity I didn’t want to miss!    So Friday afternoon I firstly ran to Bowood, where it was being held, and even though it’s on home turf I still managed to go the wrong way on some unfamiliar tracks!   On my way into the event I caught up with fellow Buzzer Tania, as we arrived at the same time, so it was wonderful to meet in person after all this time!  After an initial marshal briefing we weren’t needed again till 5pm so we could wander; after a little stroll and some Gin tasting(!) we went and listened to Colin Jackson and Jamie Baulch talk and they had some great tales to tell especially Jamie talking about running the London Marathon!   We could see Chris Evans and Paula Radcliffe wandering around and all weekend they were, along with Steve Cram and all the other celebrities, very visible and must have been in 1,000’s of selfies!   The Chippenham Harriers prime marshalling role was one of the water stations which we certainly made our own by dressing up and having 80’s music blaring!  Our first responsibility of the weekend was manning our water station for the 5km sunset race.  As with all new events there were some teething issues; the race started late and there were no waves so the water station did get a little busy at times but everyone was in such great spirits nobody minded and the race was open to everyone.  I got to pass a cup of water to Jo Pavey and I also walked for a while with little Ellie and her Mum after Ellie had a slight little tantrum after our water stop!  Ellie has Down’s syndrome and was an absolute joy, the next time I saw her after waving goodbye was on the stage with Chris Evans! 

After our duties were completed we were able to watch live music with Razorlight, who were on fire, and then at 10pm it was the Night-time Neon 5km which was going to be interesting as I’d hydrated on a couple of pints of cider and I’m scared of the dark!  John was my saviour as I was able to run with him and with so many neon lights going on it was a spectacle to watch, we also got to see some deer on our tour of the park but there were some places where it was so dark it was hard to see your footing! 

I actually loved the whole experience and bravely ran home on my home which partly was in the pitch black too!  The festival had received some bad press beforehand but in the end it was an absolute success and I loved it as did all the friends I know who went, I really do hope it will now be an annual event!

On to the next challenge but I do have this weekend off!

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