Now that the dust has settled, the legs have returned to a fully functioning state, stairs are no longer looked at with a sense of dread, getting up out of a chair is no longer supported by its very own soundtrack of grunts and groans and the blisters are starting to heal, I can finally put pen to paper with a coherent recount of a little plod that happened on the bank holiday weekend …. a recount that isn’t littered with as many expletives as it would have been should I have written it closer to the event!
A Home Run
In baseball, a home run is scored when the ball is hit in such a way that the batter is able to circle the bases and reach home safely in one play. For me, my idea of a home run is a 26.2 mile circuit of Milton Keynes.
After a very disappointing half-arsed attempt at a marathon in Wales, I wasn’t feeling too optimistic about being able to complete this plod but magic happens when you run in your home town.
Myself and my running partner in crime put ourselves in the last wave, to ensure we didn’t hold up the Chewbacca’s and rhinos of this world and as we were having a lovely little chat the gun went off, the confetti started flying and my final words of encouragement ended up being “oh shit, we’re off, I’m not ready!”. Fumbling around trying to find the start button on my Garmin whilst attempting to encourage my feet to move, we stumbled over the timing mat and started plodding up the road….. not the most focussed of starts!
Now despite the runners taking over both sides of the road, this first part is always a little congested making it slow and this suited us just fine. Unlike proper athletes, I never warm up for the marathon …. you will never see me sprinting around a car park looking all serious, you will never catch me swinging my legs around or bending down to touch my toes or circling my arms like a windmill, no siree. You’ll more likely find me queuing for the loos, taking selfies …
…. catching up on some last minute gossip or shouting out “oh my god! How are you? Its been AGES” but warming up? Its energy wasted in my opinion so the 1st mile or so is always plodded at a gentle conversational pace to get the old pins moving.
We made our way passed the 1st roundabout, the cheering crowds behind us with their amazingly loud support, now more of a muffle than a roar, we settled into, what could possibly be the longest 5 hours of our lives. Around us, all that could be heard were feet pounding the pavements and the odd conversation about how people wished they’d trained for this …. although that could’ve been a conversation I was having loudly in my own head. 🤔😂
Our own conversation was more of an MOT, with questions such as “Hows it all feeling” (“shocking” was my response), “what about you?, hows the legs after last weeks Marathon?” (“Heavy” was my partner in crimes response) and then, there shone a beacon of light at the end of the first 2.5 mile tunnel in the form of my running partner in crimes parents, who had made their way to the side of the road to cheer us on …. what an amazingly, brilliant sight they were….. and as the objective of this little plod was just to get to the finish line we did what any polite, respectful, fully trained athlete would do and stopped for a little chat….
After a few minutes and feeling disappointed that we couldn’t stay and talk for just a little bit longer we pushed on up through the city centre where the MOT questions continued and the appearance of my usual Pins and Needles had me whinging and moaning for the next 1.5 miles. By mile 4 I had to admit defeat, so launching my sorry ass onto a grass verge I whipped my trainer off in anger and wiggled my toes around pretending I knew what I was doing and feeling immense relief that my toes where indeed still attached to my foot. Now despite not wearing our Redway Runners running tops the amount of support and shouts of concern from our lovely running club was heartwarming and served to show just what a super, fantastic, amazing club we run for!!. Knowing the support was all around the course for us and all the other runners, I shoved my foot back in my smelly trainer and off we plodded once more.
Its safe to say that nothing out of the ordinary happened as we ran the miles and miles of redways and canal tow paths. We plodded, we talked, we took our gels, we hugged other club runners manning the water stations or cheer points – and oh my! What a fantastic job these guys do, giving up their entire day to shout, clap, cheer and support all of us. By mile 10, the sun was out in full strength and I was stripping off down to my running bra in order to get rid of the baselayer Mr Bestest had told me at the start of the race, I wouldn’t need (no-one likes a smarty-pants!)
It was about this point in the race we heard an American man jogging along behind us, seemingly happy and relaxed in his bid to get to the finish line, talking to anyone who was physically able to respond and I must say, I was suitably impressed when I heard him say to one breathless lady that he had run 100 miles the day before…. wow!! Superhuman and here he was once more out running a “measly” marathon – this must have been his recovery run then. We played cat and mouse with this chap for a good few miles before my running partner in crime declared he could go on no more. To be fair to him he had smashed The Great Welsh Marathon AND The London Marathon just 8 days before this Marathon so a fair amount of Kudos was required! Clearly being the supportive running partner I am, I gently encouraged him with a ‘you quit, I quit’ approach and a stern look on my face almost daring him to quit but knowing the stubborn so and so doesnt know the meaning of the word. Yet this ‘stick’ approach seemed to work, he gave up talking completely and we silently adopted the walk run approach. This approach, however, became tailored around our new American cling-on who seemed adament on telling anyone who would listen about his previous days 100 mile exploits…..so at the sound of his booming voice, we ran …. when his voice dialed down to a dull roar in the dìstance we allowed ourselves a little walk.
Around mile 17 or 18 my own family popped up to cheer us on – so we stopped for a hug, a little chat and some desperately needed encouragement before ploughing on again, Unfortunately this allowed old Captain flipping America to catch up with us and there we were … stuck with the same line we’d heard him repeat over and over again for the previous 7 or 8 miles or so … only we felt VERY special when he told us (like a toddler looking for attention) that it was his birthday that day! Give me strength!! We hoped our silence would get shot of him and eventually it did.
By mile 20 ish we came across Mr Bestest on his bike and low and behold we had another excuse to stop, have a little dance 🤔 and pose for the cameras and yes …. Mr Bestest had his chance to say “I told you so” over my lack of baselayer 🙄😂
At this point in the race I was still feeling strong, my running partner in crime was shattered but neither of us would allow the other to give up now…. a magnificant MK Stadium finish was only 5 ish miles away and there was only one way to get there…. and you know what?! With taped up calves, blistered toes, blistered bums and next to no training … we only went and bloody did it! #TeamHuntleyMoy had finally crossed a finish line side by side.
Maybe I had the right mindset this time, maybe we both had something to prove, maybe because we had alot of support or maybe it was the fact it was a ‘Home Run’ … whatever it was, it got us through. Running around the football pitch and seeing our families in the stands made the previous 5 hours 43 mins seem worth it somehow.
And so for now, while we continue to slap ourselves on the backs and shake our heads in astonishment I leave you with a few words from Mr Bestest, who I think has summed it up perfectly for us ….
“You two are the WORST advert for running a marathon I’ve ever seen but today you were the BEST advert for determination, pigheadedness, teamwork and pure can do attitude well done to both of you!” 💚
Next stop, Edinburgh! So until next time