Before anyone asks, I am fully aware of the fact that I haven’t posted a blog in nearly 3 weeks, and for this I am sorry. The last three weeks have been, well let’s just say that the last 3 weeks have been (and now gone) – more about my lack of literary wizardry later.
Without beating around the bush, I did it. Challenge Two COMPLETED! Under normal circumstances I would have been pretty proud of running a half marathon, but these particular 13.1 miles were pretty special. Because these selected miles were run after a mere 4 weeks post ripping one of my dearest ligaments (the calcaneofibular).
I was in a place where my ankle was still swollen, I couldn’t rotate it, and I still had discomfort after a night’s sleep. It wasn’t a great place to start training – luckily I only had 6 days to train.
4 miles on Monday, 6 on Wednesday and another 6 on Friday. Sounds pretty simple, and to be fair it was surprisingly simple – for my ankle. My lower leg muscles on the other hand felt like there were about to explode, while my cardiovascular system was just seconds off imploding. Taking a 4 week break from training really took its toll on the rest of the body, but my male pride got the better of me. Who the hell are my friends, family and body to say what I can and can’t do? So I hit the road to Blackpool for the 2011 Great North West Half Marathon.
After registration we had the luxury of waiting about an hour until the race kicked off – an hour of seeing just how many lean, athletic professionals were entered in the same race. While I definitely felt out of place, it did help psych me up a bit. We headed over to the start line and did some final stretching.
It took about half a mile to divide the group into super athletic, athletic, sporty, about 3 more levels of physical ability, and then down to my level. One of the things that got me through the pain of running, was the fact that there was at least another level below me (remind me to tell you about the man in orange lyrca and the granny in a bit).
Before the race I really umm’d and ahh’d about whether I should use my iPod (other MP3 players are available). I decided that as I was used to running longer distances on my own with music, for at least the first big race, I needed to do what I was used to. In hindsight, I really needed to load it up with more music that what I had on my playlist, but it was still a great help. The first water stop was after 3 miles, but they forgot to mention that at 2.9 miles there was going to be a hill – a hill which seemed harder than Kilimanjaro to summit. I’ve never enjoyed water quite like I enjoyed that ice cold heaven in a bottle.
I soon realised that I’d been lied to. They lied about Blackpool being an easy race, as they’d failed to mention that 1) there were mountains to climb – aka the pedestrian ramps up & down from the sea front and 2) the North wind doth blow – and it blew frigging hard, right in my face while I was going up those mountains. The race seemed to be a game of two halves. As you can imagine running into the wind, up mountains and away from the sun wasn’t that amazing. But on the reverse side of things, I had the wind on my back, sun in my face listening to what can only be described as Ibiza Club Classics. Providing I didn’t look too much to my left I could momentarily forget I was in Blackpool and it felt like I was in foreign climes – something that really helped towards the end of the race.
Speaking about the end of the race, do you remember I told you about a granny and a lyrca laden umpa lumpa? As I was approaching the last half mile I’d really slowed down to a speed that was so slow it’s not even worth blogging about. But this was part of my master plan to muster up a final bit of energy to make a speedy photo finish across the line. However, this plan nearly got rained upon when some granny actually overtook me (you can imagine the embarrassment). To make matters worse, a guy wearing orange lyrca 19 sizes too small for him also overtook me. This guy was someone Vicky had pointed at out before the start as someone I would definitely beat. This guy looked liked he’d never worn lyrca in his life, and had chaffed his thighs so much that they had started bleeding (he had first aid folk running with him, before anyone starts to assume I was a heartless man just leaving him behind).
Anyway, a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do. With a quick spin of the iPod wheel, I got to a song which I knew would be a great race finisher. Then the speed came, and the 6ft 4 cripple was transformed into a lean, mean sprinting machine. See the granny & orange man later, I was off.
To be honest, there was no-one else in the race but me. I wasn’t trying to beat a personal best, as I didn’t have a personal best. I wasn’t trying to beat anyone else, as I didn’t know anyone else in the race. I was running for me, for my brother and for all the guys and girls that risk their lives every day. And that was enough to get me across the finish line in just over 2 hours 30 mins. I was so happy to have finished, and so proud of myself to have done it after messing up my ankle (maybe now I can return to blogging about the challenges and not just my various broken body parts).
Vicky & Joe had kindly come to watch me, so I was met at the finish with bottles of Lucozade and hugs (they were met with a very sweaty housemate). We hobbled back to the car, and had the mandatory photo shoot away from the shouting crowds (they’d all gone home after finishing an hour before me). While it was a bloody long slog to the finish, it was an even longer slog to getting back to normal. While I’m not back to the levels of fitness I had at the end of the January, I wasn’t going to let some minor injury get in the way of my goals.
CHALLENGE TWO COMPLETE
Blog 28 – check.
Challenges completed – two.
Months to go – 19
Help for Heroes [21:21] Challenge