My first event was local, and ten minutes before I was supposed to leave the house I was still dashing around trying to find clean socks and charge my Garmin. This event was a couple of hours away and needed a bit of organisation.
I hadn’t registered ahead of time as I wasn’t sure whether two 10k races in three days was a good idea plus the weather has been truly awful. Still, at 6am on Sunday 3rd January I found myself packing my running bag for the drive to Ringwood – near the New Forest, for event number two. It was too early to eat so I made porridge for my little food thermos, coffee for the big thermos, packed bananas and nuts and sliced cheese (for afterwards). Dry clothes and shoes and a written map in case the sat nav didn’t work. Then headed out into the dark for a very wet and windy drive.
I thought about turning round a number of times during the drive, the rain was hammering down and visibility was low – I was crawling along worried about aquaplaning on unseen surface water. Fortunately there were hardly any cars on the road – who would come out in weather like this if they didn’t need to. I arrived at the Somerley Estate just after 9am, nearly two hours before the start of the race.
Like I said, I hadn’t registered so wanted to get there early, thank goodness I did as the planned parking on a grassed area was now unusable and the marshals were parking people along the edge. Getting us to reverse onto the grass with our front wheels still on firm ground. I could see one car already stuck in the middle, guess this is when they decided to change the parking arrangement. I was probably about the 7th car to arrive so got a good spot near registration and near what turned out to be the finish – I was very grateful for this later.
After registering under a tiny little gazebo that was being battered my the wind I sat in my car and watched, for the next two hours, as hundreds of cars turned up trying to find a good parking spot, it was crazy and I felt sorry for the marshals – there were limited options – some people must have walked for ages in the rain to get to registration.
While sitting there eating my porridge I started to wonder where the start was? I wound my window down to chat to the girl in the car next to me, this lasted about thirty seconds as we both promptly got soaked faces, but she informed me that the start was about a kilometre away – WTF! I guess we were going to get soaked anyway but starting off wet seemed miserable. We agreed to walk to the start together which is what we did at 10.50 – ten minutes before the start.
The wind was gusting and the paths were flooded and our feet were soaked – and we hadn’t even started. Zoe (my new car neighbour friend) and I chatted about events we were training for and had done. She was training for the Bournemouth Marathon Festival – ALL FOUR EVENTS!!! She was planning to do the 5k and 10k on the Saturday and the Half Marathon and Marathon on the Sunday. I had met a crazy lady – I felt quite at home 🙂 She had also done the London Marathon and told me how much will enjoy it.
As we lined up for the start we tried to hide out of the wind behind some tall men – the advantage of being short. Everyone was huddled together and shivering and no doubt wondering what the hell we were all doing there. The start was delayed by 15 minutes due to the parking problems and seemed like forever. “Come ON” let’s move!!!
And then we did. The first two kms were very slow as hundreds of people tried to dodge the puddles and mud before giving up and just running through them. It was nice just to jog along and warm up a little.
I’m sure the estate was beautiful but I could hardly see anything through the rain and the mist. At about 2km the heavy rain got worse, yep worse…. like the rain you get in the tropics but not as warm! A big groan went up as this happened followed by a kind of deranged group laugh as we realised how mad we all were 🙂
I could feel the mud and water squelching between my toes and my running tights seemed to be getting heavier and heavier. Truly awful weather, my thoughts went back four years to the Moonwalk.
…or as it’s known in my house the F*cking Moonwalk.
A side note about the Moonwalk….. Four years ago my sister, my friend Sarah and I decided to attempt the Edinburgh Moonwalk, a marathon distance walk that starts at midnight – three hours after my bedtime, right there I should have known it was a bad idea. It was, to this day, the most miserable experience of my life. Nine and half hours of misery, awful weather, blistered feet, fatigue, tears, dark moments. My sister was injured which slowed the pace and we nearly missed our flight home! The trouble with walking is there is nothing less than walking. With running you can walk when you get tired, cycling you can free wheel, swimming you can do breastwork. Walking… is just walking and it’s slow. I think you get the picture.
Anyhoo, when things get tough or uncomfortable during an event I always compare how I feel to the F*cking Moonwalk experience. If the FM was a ten out of ten this was only around a 6/10 and in fact as the kms went by I realised I was quite in enjoying it – something quite satisfying about splashing through the puddles and hey once you’re wet, you’re wet.
It was a two lap course and I could see my new buddy Zoe just ahead of me all the time, it was like having a little pace bunny. We levelled up at the 5km mark after walking up a short steep hill before lap two and after a little chat she was ahead again.
I crossed the finish line in 1.06.37 – totally happy with that given the slow start. Also my legs which were killing me after Friday’s 10k felt ok – I think my mind was on other things anyway, like keeping upright through the mud – unlike the poor lady in front of me who fell flat in her face, she was ok, I helped her up.
By the time I got back to my car the back tyres where in flood water but fortunately the front was still ok. I had a last chat with Zoe and she very kindly gave me her little press pins which she used to keep her race number on instead of safety pins. It was such a kind gesture – some people are so nice.
Many cars around me were stuck – literally stuck in the mud. Fortunately there were also people with big Landrovers helping to tow them out. I got my car moving and out of there as soon as possible. Further up the road I found a quiet spot and stripped down and got some dry clothes on – thank goodness for rain and steamed up windows! Heater on full blast, heated seats on (love my heated seats) and in an hour and forty five mins I arrive home…and the bloody sun was shining!
Two down – 48 to go.