Musings · Wellbeing

Chester Half Marathon: Mile by Mile Musings

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That’s how the first conversation began between my brother and I.

Yet as the week went on, I started thinking ‘oh, you can do it!’, ‘how hard can it be?’, and ‘imagine how good you’ll feel once it’s done!’

So I signed up – my brother reaffirming that he just wanted to do it with someone and if we could get through it, that would be a result in itself.


8 weeks later (4 of which included a knee injury) I was feeling a little sick. I hadn’t been on a run for 2 weeks, in fear of damaging my knee further before the big day. But all strapped up, it was feeling better and with my brother by my side, I knew it was going to be alright.

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OH WAIT. The brother who ‘just wanted to do it with someone’ has changed his side of our joint predicted time of 2 hours to 1 hour 45. 2 hours was already looking like a distant dream for me but 1 hour 45? TRAITOR!

With 2 minutes before the klaxon, we squeezed into the 1 hour 50 bracket- what on earth was I doing there? Everyone looked pretty pro, I mean, there were at least 7 bumbags within my peripherals. Guy to my left had a plethora of energy gels strapped to his biceps, for gods sake. Shit – would they notice that my sports top was from Primark?

But before I could worry any further, we were off.


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Start – Oh. Well this is okay. Nice gentle jog. Ooh, perhaps I can keep up with all of these pros? Maybe this won’t be so bad after all.

0.1 miles: Oh god, oh lord above, oh sweet baby Jesus. Why are they getting faster? And what is this? A hill? They said this was a flat course? WHY IN GODS NAME IS THERE A HILL?!?

0.2 miles: The brother pats me on the back as he speeds ahead. YEAH GOOD LUCK TO YOU, YOU BASTARD. At least this hill is subsiding…

0.3 miles: ANOTHER HILL. WHAT IS GOING ON? HAVE I DIED AND ENTERED DAMIAN’S LAIR OF CONSTANT HILLAGE AND ENERGY PILLAGE?

1 mile: 1 mile down! Only 12 to go!!! I want to cry.

1.2 miles: Downhill. THIS IS GREAT. Can the rest be like this? First mile was 9 minutes which was my original goal pre-injury so hopefully I can keep it up? Knee is actually feeling okay…

2 miles – 8:47 average. Jeez Louise! There is absolutely no way on this nation that we call the Great British Isles that I can keep this up.

2.5 miles – ‘Halfway point. 2.5 miles to go’. Oh god. I’ve only gone and set my Nike running app to a 5 mile amble! No, no, no!!! 

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2.7 miles – Pass a girl with a full face of make up. Lordy, I don’t even think she’s sweating?? Has she actually matched her trainers to her nail polish?!

3 miles – ‘2 miles to go!’… OH SHUSH. But 9 minutes average. Good.

3.5 miles – Strangely, feeling good. Always had at least one issue during my training runs (knee, upset stomach, wrong underwear, wrong music, etc.) but everything seems to be working. For now…

4.3 miles – The route goes over the M56. Passing cars are beeping. That’s nice. Hope it doesn’t cause a collision.

5 miles – ‘Workout complete. Distance covered, 5 miles’ FUCK OFF SANDRA RICHARDS-ROSS.

DO ONE, SANDRA.
DO ONE, SANDRA.

5.1 miles – Lad with a ‘Running 4 Pops’ top overtakes (lots of overtaking going on by the way – only natural since I should have started in the 2 hours 10 bracket). Reminds me how so many people are doing this for others.

5.6 miles – Attacked by the smell of manure as the track doubles back. Here I can see all the super fast runners making their way to the next part of the course – goddamn you quick footed minions! But at least I may see that scoundrel sibling of mine…

5.8 miles – No sign of him yet but the distraction of looking is much welcomed. Have my hand ready to do a cross-the-border high five.

6 miles – Hang on, I’m nearing the turning point. He’s only gone and bloody done this bit already! PURE HATE x INFINITY.

6.2 miles – The 2 hour markers run past at this point. Been wondering where they’ve been. Think about trying to keep up with them but as they pull forward, I know there’s no point. Au revoir, my former dreams!

6.3 miles – The 2 hours 10 are passing me on the other side. They’ll be chasing me for the whole race like grim reapers, waiting to hack me down.

7 miles – In the proper countryside now. A girl runs past with a laminated sheet clipped to her back reading ‘For my friend Rebecca who passed away this week. Speak soon’. Oh god. And Coldplay’s ‘Til Kingdom Come‘ has just come on my playlist. I feel my eyes get wet. No, Chelsea, no! Do not cry! Oh god, I’m crying. And running. I’m CRUNNING. This is not good for breathing.

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7.7 miles – Managed to pull myself together. I’ve slowed down in the last couple of miles and I’m trying my best to ignore the updates. Getting to the point where keeping on running is the important thing.

8 miles – I’ve got a stitch. A STITCH. I haven’t had one of them since year 8 athletics. In fact, I thought it was only an ailment of teenagehood. Anaerobic respiration, that’s it… But how on earth do you overcome it?! I cast my mind back to GCSE Science but the memory has long gone. Something to do with lactic acid? Am I supposed to do some deep breathing? It’s deep breathing right??!??

8.5 miles – Oh godddddddd. It burrrnnnsssssssss.

9 miles – Stitch has gone but my mind has lost the ability to think of anything but moving my limbs. Too far to go. Want to stop. Can’t stop. Must not stop.

10 miles – So. This is now the longest I’ve ever ran before. It feels good to reach double figures but there’s now pain searing through my hips and knees. Apparently there’s Lucozade at 10.5 miles. This is the only thing keeping me going.

10.5 miles – Lucozade! Sweet nectar! The elixir of life!

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10.7 miles – It’s around 1 hour 45 now and it dawns on me that my brother would have finished by now. TWAT-BAG.

10.8 miles – I really had hoped to be overtaking people by this point – I mean, I’ve managed to keep running – but the reality is I started in the completely wrong group. Mentally, this isn’t great and I’m starting to realise that this is just as much a mental test as it is a physical one.

11 miles – Really struggled from 8.5 miles but with 2 miles to go, I feel like I’ve turned a corner.

11.5 miles – A man has pulled his hose over the wall from his garden and is showering runners as they pass. It is glorious. Washes the stickiness from the Lucozade away.

Extremely accurate portrayal of what happened at this family event.
Extremely accurate portrayal of what happened at this family event.

11.7 miles – Now, this has been going on for the last mile or so but I’ve just cottoned onto what’s happening. A boy is using me as a marker. As in, he keeps running, stopping and then whenever I catch him up, he starts running again. I HAVE NEVER HATED ANYONE MORE. PURE HATE x INFINITY AND ONE.

11.8 miles – Knee brace is really starting to cut into me now.

12 miles – Just over a mile to go!!! Little boy on his dad’s shoulders is shouting ‘the finish is just around the corner’ – WHY ARE YOU LYING TO ME?!?!???!! IT’S AT LEAST A MILE AWAY YOU VILE DELINQUENT.

12.2 miles – Just as I’m gearing myself up for the last haul, I see the colours of people’s t-shirts ascending before me. Oh god. It’s a hill. IT’S ANOTHER FUCKING HILL.

12.4 miles – It’s funny how songs can get you through moments like these. At this moment, it’s Michael Calfan’s Treasured Soul. Good beat but still chilled – don’t know why, but it’s working.

12.5 miles – I can’t do this. I’m going to be sick. NO. KEEP GOING. COME ON.

12.6 miles – DID I EVER MENTION HOW MUCH I HATE HILLS?!

12.7 miles – 400m to go sign. Someone shouts ‘Come on Chelsea!’ I CAN DO THIS.

12.8 miles – A wonderful moment as I finally overtake the guy using me a marker. I see the surrender in his eyes. HA HA HA, IN YO FACE SUCKAAAAAA.

FullSizeRender12.9 miles – Top of the hill. Turn the corner and there it is. Like a beacon of hope. The finish line. But not even that can make me speed up.

13 miles – From the sidelines, I hear ‘CHELSSEAAAAAAA’ and see my family (including my be-medaled brother – whyioughta) and James cheering me on. From no where, I find the energy to raise my hands and as I hit 100m to go, that little switch turns on and a burst of energy allows me to really go for it – my face is in full strain mode – and I pip 3 guys to the finish line (at last!!)

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13.1 miles – IT IS OVER. OMGIZZLE. I HAVEN’T DIED. THIS IS WONDERFUL. OH GOD WHY HAVE I TAKEN MY KNEE BRACE OFF? THIS WAS AN ERROR. I CANNOT WALK.


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I finished in 2 hours, 8 minutes and 10 seconds (they never caught me up – hurrah!!) and with the brother finishing in 1 hour and 41 minutes, I guess I never would have kept up after all… (still hate him though, obvz).

As I ran around the course, I plotted this blog in my brain. It was, quite frankly, the only thing keeping me sane.

It took me 2 full days to be able to walk again. Which apparently is the exact amount of time you need to forget how difficult it all was and start thinking ‘oh, it wasn’t that bad!’

So, until the next one. And my challenge? To keep up with the brother.

HA. I do make myself laugh.

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