Ever since Catheryne and I got together I kept saying that I’d do the Maidstone Half Marathon, but there was always some excuse not to do it, or sometimes not even bothering with an excuse, just hoping no one would pull me up on it. So this year it was the first event we booked in.
I have been having some annoying problems recently, most annoying of all has been discomfort in my stomach which the Dr seemed to think was quite common and would go away on it’s own. I kept on having pain until I narrowed it down to grain / wheat products, so I have cut them out and am feeling pretty good. Why is this relevant to a Half Marathon? My normal nourishment of a massive bowl of porridge before a race had to go out of the window. It was replaced by a chicken sandwich on gluten and wheat free bread and a banana, which was a bit odd.
Breakfast out the way and the nerves really set in. At 9.15 we left the house to walk up the road for a 9.30 start (The benefits of the race starting outside the inlaws house) gun went off pretty much dead on 9.30, but we didn’t get over the timing mat for about 2 minutes due to the sheer volume of runners (SVR) the route took us down to weavering street, up weavering street and left past Tesco’s, left again and back onto Grovewood drive, Mile 1 out of the way and feeling pretty good. The next mile or so is on a pavement going towards Bearstead. up and round the landway and back out onto the road. So far so good, Roger had shot off after mile 2 and I was hanging about 5 metres off Catheryne’s shoulder. I never seem to be able to run in time with her and I don’t know why. By mile 6 I was beginning to struggle a bit, there was plenty in my lungs, but my legs were slowly turning into massive lumps of concrete. As we turn off the main road to go up Hollingbourne Hill, I really started to worry I wasn’t going to make it, but the satisfaction of running further than I’d ever run before kept me going for a bit.
We had a gel as we were going through Hollingbourne village, perfectly timed for attacking Hollingbourne hill, not as nasty as I’d worried it might be, but not as timid as I’d hoped. As you turn off the hill onto the pilgrims way you are clapped by the marshalls for getting up the hill, what they fail to mention is that there is another hill directly in front of you. For the next 4 miles the terrain is “undulating” or bloody hilly. Catheryne was absolutely fantastic. I didn’t realise it at the time – I was not happy with all the nagging – but she really kept me going, she was so encouraging, trying not to let me drop too far behind her, that continued all the way back to the finish. Mile 10 is pretty much all downhill to the water station and down into Bearstead village. The hill coming out of Bearstead really took it out of me, it’s a reasonably slight hill, but it goes on for a while, and by the time we turned back into Weavering street for the last mile I was just about able to move one foot in front of the other. It turned out to be one long long mile.
Knowing I was that close to actually completing a half marathon without walking was amazing and coming round the corner onto Grovewood drive and seeing the finish line was amazing. Roger had finished about 10 minutes earlier (64 years old!) and him and Pen were waiting at the finish for us. Across the line in 02h22m49 and you have one happy man.
To think that this time last year I was a smoker with very every excuse not to get off my arse I am very proud of what we’ve achieved this year. Now I am going to spend a couple of days relaxing before starting the road to Wimbleball next Season.