Sometimes, you just feel lucky to be alive

A race review! A race with N running next to me, which I’ve been rather looking forward to. Oh my. A mild disaster area.

We got stuck in traffic on the M1, and made it to the start mere seconds before the race was due to begin; we’d dithered about not bothering, and eventually decided it was worth a try because the worst thing that could happen would be arriving too late to be allowed to start. As it was, the race started about 10 minutes late. Neither of us managed to get our heart rate monitors on in the struggle to get parked and kitted up. N was full of M1 grr (I wasn’t), and feeling fairly stressed. I managed a loo trip in a ditch, N didn’t (he had to find a bush part way round). We both ploughed through an icy boggy bit of grass on the way to the start queue, soaking our feet even before we’d gotten going, and we started way back, which meant that the first mile or so was a frustration of getting past people.

The course was just the same as last year, which was nicely familar, and there were lots of people out cheering, which was heartening. There were some epic puddles, which were nearer lakes, so we ploughed through those, freezing muddy water up to the ankles, and frozen toes for about 1/4 mile after exiting (I’m not used to this on a road race. I am glad I had my trail shoes on – canal paths are muddy generally). There were jelly babies. There were chocolates. There were no gels (which had been advertised) but there was fairly well organised water.  Pace wise, we were going reasonably – a sub 9 min/mile, which is what I wanted. Not having properly trained for this, it was never going to be fast. At the same time, I wanted a sub 2-hr finish for the 9th half marathon of the year (NINTH!).


You can see that there’s an epic slow at 11.25 miles. At that point, we were heading to a bridge. There was suddenly a lot of shouting from the marshals. Stressed shouting. “Keep right! Keep on the pavement! There’s an incident in the road! Keep right! Keep on the path!”. There was an incident. Someone had keeled over, and was receiving CPR, with defib pads on his chest. This can’t bode well for the poor gentleman. I can’t find out what happened to him – so I’m hoping he made it to hospital and is now tucked up safely, and full of oxygen and tubes. It was horrible to see. I burst into tears, promptly had an asthma attack (fortunately, I had a full inhaler with me), started breathing in chorus with myself, and absolutely grasped onto N. I am so glad that I was not running this one on my own, as I’d have created a second medical emergency for a rather pressed set of marshals at that point. And that wouldn’t have been fair. Particularly since I’d failed to fill in the emergency details on my number, and I wasn’t wearing my RoadID. Fool that I am.

Anyhow. A combination of grit, adrenaline and ventolin (no, I don’t know how much I had, but it was several puffs) got me to the end, slightly faster than we’d been going earlier. Cold. Wet. Dispirited. Very cold. Very wet. Stupidly, I did not change in the van, but left it until we’d got to N’s brother’s place in Milton Keynes. By which point I was heading rapidly towards hypothermic, having been sitting around in saturated running gear. Blue fingers. Numb fingers (I know it’s going badly when my fingers get numb and itchy at the ends). Shivering. Unable to string a sentence together, and really grumpy. A hot shower helped. Tea helped. A really good hairdryer helped as well. And then we ate curry, which also helped.

The second part of the day involved a trip to the flat, to inspect the paintwork (complaints will be made. They were supposed to remove the picture hooks, and fill in holes. They removed about five, gouged a hole in a wall, did not fill it, and then painted over the rest, leaving them askew and ghastly. The lavatory was also messy – no excuse for that, there were loo cleaning materials available. They used a bin as a paint mixing tin, destroyed the last remaining tea-towel, left paint on the sofa, masking tape all over the place, and replaced one of the hooks on the back of the bathroom door upsidedown. They broke one of the blinds. I am annoyed that I paid them before checking for myself – N checked on Tuesday, but he was full of virus and really not well enough to check thoroughly. Plus, two of the light bulbs had gone). We removed stuff from the loft. We found the Lego, the board games, the tapestry stand (this will go to the charity shop – I bought a second on eBay in the interim), the second box for Christmas Decorations (mostly empty. I knew there’d been a second box, but it had been forgotten one year. That was a challenging year for packing it all up). The first box of Christmas decorations. All my sheet music. All the birthday cards I was sent between ages 1 and 10 – including with lovely Uncle Michael’s handwriting (no love lost between my family and my aunt, but Uncle Michael was always kind to me, and remembered me. He died too young when I was about 21). Lots of empty boxes, which we really could have done with when we were packing, and a whole bunch of ballroom dancing trophies, now destined for the charity shop. A mystifying set of Swiss Railway posters.

We also met Bailey the Malamute, who’s having a sojourn in the basement flat. He was very friendly, and wanted to play in the street, and sniff and go for walkies. We had to decline.

But, the best thing? I found this:

I lost it about 10 years ago. Which was infuriating, given the number of weeks it had taken me to knit the thing. It was in the box of empty boxes of dollshouse furniture. I nearly binned the whole thing, and then decided to squash the empty boxes down. I was so thrilled, I waved it at the downstairs neighbours, who now think I’m mildly unhinged….






3 thoughts on “Sometimes, you just feel lucky to be alive

  1. The start to your race sounds super stressful! I once heard the countdown to the start of the Oakley 20 race whilst sat in the loo. I cut my wee short after that!
    A few of our club runners were at the MK half this weekend too. The weather wasn’t the best, although I must say we missed all of the rain trail running over in Wellingborough. Rubbish that the organisers didn’t have any gels available at the race if they had advertised them. Awful about the incident that took place as well. I’ve passed a couple of people at events now, and instinct makes you want to stop and help, but there really is nothing you can do but carry on running by. Hope they are OK now.

  2. By the time we got past him – there were heaps of people looking after him. Really, I’d have been of no use, even with my Guiding qualifications. I’ve been googling on-and-off all day, and haven’t found anything to suggest he didn’t make it, which is comforting!

  3. Gosh that sounds so stressful with the start of the race and then the poor man. I hate starting races in a rush, it messes with my heart rate and breathing and I feel so tense (Cheddar Gorge marathon was awful at the beginning when I realised how late I was!). Well done for surviving though – can’t have been a nice experience 😦
    I would be LIVID with those decorators. Sounds awful.

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