So that’s it folks, well nearly! 

Posted on: 17 Dec 2019

So again I have been slack in Blogging, the last time I put fingers to keyboards was to tell the tale of our night half marathon shenanigans, a tale I am sure that will be retold many times and possibly embellished (not that it needs much embellishing) as time goes on!  So what has happened since then; it hasn’t quite all been mince pies, mulled wine and feet up but there have been some overindulgences for the sake of the festive spirit (such a martyr!) amongst my latest tomfooleries!

Next up I was back in deep water again; The London Aquatic Centre home of the 2012 Olympics swimming events!  Last year I took part on the 5km Marathon Swims held there but had been pretty ill leading up to the event; it later transpired I had/have gallstones!  So I wanted to go back this year fully fuelled and hopefully a more competent swimmer to see if I could do better.  

I really enjoyed the event last year; being in the Olympic pool, the atmosphere, the format, the friendliness and achievement and this year did not disappoint either.  There are 3 distances you can choose from; 1km, 5km or 10km and I again had opted for the 5km.  The format is simple; you swim up and down lane 1, then lane 2 and so on until you reach lane 10 where once you finish you get out the pool where there is a timing mat.  You can then run round and start again or you can have a rest, have a drink, a snack (you can leave your own supplies) and when ready get back in lane 1 passing over the timing mat, you then start the whole process again!  Once you have done this 5 times you have completed your 5km and can then celebrate by running/crawling under the finish arch instead!  I am certainly not the fastest swimmer nor the slowest but I did seem to get overtaken many times, however the size of the lanes allowed for this and the swimming etiquette was pretty good for the whole event.   I felt I was much stronger than last year and looking at the stats swam consistently and fortunately I was actually 8 minutes quicker than 2018; how mortifying if I’d been slower!  Loved the event again; there’s something for me about being in an Olympic venue that is very special.

Following this a quiet life for once with two consecutive reunions with people I’ve met on holiday however I did manage to squeeze parkruns in on both occasions, coincidentally both in Maidenhead and the first one with the friends I was meeting up with!  I enjoyed Maidenhead parkrun and will be back!

Next up was Bedford Half Marathon chosen as I’d never run this one before, it had great reviews, the entry fee was fair and it is pretty close to my parents; I was not disappointed.   My plan was to take it easy as my knee ligament had been playing me up and see what happened!  The route is along the country lanes around Bedford, undulating, but scenic and well marshalled.  I started off running with a guy who was on the road to compete 100 half marathons, today was his 12th so I didn’t elaborate on what number I was on (94!), I stopped with him at the water station just after 3 miles which turned out to be a very bad idea as when I started to run again my knee gave way.  I truly feared that this would be my first DNF due to injury but I walked and  stretched and eventually tentatively started running again and all seemed well; my mantra was to just keep running whatever and don’t stop for anything!   At around 10 miles I caught the guy I had been running with, had a quick conversation and just carried on pushing until I crossed the finish line; I had felt remarkably strong but again my knee gave out when I stopped.  Straight for a massage and assessment; dodgy ligament diagnosed and active recovery (cycling and swimming not running) prescribed!  I really enjoyed Bedford HM and will be back, you paid extra for a medal but all finishers were given a beach towel; absolutely perfect to keep you warm on a cold December day!

I followed the advice and for the following week, well until Thursday, swam and also pedalled furiously on the gym Wattbike, which was no hardship as I have to get bike fit for my New Year holiday adventure!   Thursday was our club time trial so I offered to be the sweep as I wanted to help where I could and also test the knee/ligament; I achieved both goals and finished in one piece and didn’t lose anyone either!

Saturday and the annual Santa’s Scamper around Calne; 3 miles of fun, laughter and happiness!  300 Santa’s running around town can only make everyone smile!

Sunday and this time Milton Keynes for my first event with Enigma Running.  Their format is similar to other races I have done; lapped event with snacks and refreshments available every time you finish a lap.  I was visiting friends in the area so it seemed an easy way to get in my long run without getting lost (nearly did however!), I didn’t have to carry lots of water/food and I get to try a new event.  The race is low key; you pick your number up from the pub where a temporary HQ is set-up, then all 32 runners (the maximum for the event was 50) walk out to the race start, a course briefing of the 7 and a bit laps takes place and then you run!  The course is marked by flour however unfortunately some of it had washed away so on the first lap I had to wait for other runners to check I was going the right way!  Most of the runners were veterans of the course but everyone was extremely friendly especially when standing on a crossroad of pathways deliberating which way to go!  The course is basically around a lake and on the first lap it seemed to be never-ending; it was the longest 3.55 miles ever and I wondered how on earth I was not going to lose the will to live running this another 6 times!  However strangely as each lap passed time went quicker; I learnt where on the course I could push and where the headwind would be relentless, there were different landmarks to look out for and the wildlife varied from ducks, swans, geese and herons to dogs with no spatial awareness!  I changed from initially hating the course to really enjoying it!  The camaraderie from the other runners and the Enigma crew also made a huge difference; I also again felt strong and I think this comes from all the Wattbike training I have recently added!   

The medal was of course Christmas themed but I was bit concerned when I looked at the back of the medal to understand the connection between this and Christmas!  I pondered all the way home and then turned to Google; apparently the saying comes from Die Hard which is classed a Christmas movie and of course I have never seen it! 

Lastly for 2019 was the Westonbirt House Christmas 10k.  I had been offered free entry after the organisers ran out of the food and drink I’d prepaid for at their summer event and it seemed a good way to end the year in a beautiful location.   The race is 2 laps around the picturesque country lanes and through the grounds of the house, which with all the rain was a tad slippery in places, and then just before the finish line you get to negotiate 4 steps!   I really enjoyed the event and ran much better than I could have ever expected after the previous weeks efforts and crossed the finish line 2 minutes quicker than in the summer; a great result to finish on!

So that’s my adventures finished for 2019, well nearly!  So far I’ve survived 8 x marathons, 1 x 20 miler, 9 x half marathons, 2 x 10km, 2 x 5km swims; one in the sea and the other in the pool as well as some off roaders, parkruns and other oddities!  My last adventure for this year starts just before New Year; I’m cycling through Vietnam!  I don’t know anyone else going but I am joining a group otherwise I may never be seen again with my sense of direction!  If you’re interested in what I’m up to have a look here!  https://www.exodus.co.uk/tripnotes/mov/10192

Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  Here’s to an exceptional 2020 for everyone!

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