We met at a car park. I had already parked up. I saw her car enter the car park at 9:59am and she parked alongside me. We got out. She, dressed to whop this 10 miler in the face. Me dressed like a wazuck. But whatever.....we were gonna smash this 10 miler, despite the hot air temperature of mid 20's C. Some of our run would be in full sun - other parts would be in glorious shade. But whatever the conditions, TurboTortoise and me were ready for this almighty challenge. And it started just a few minutes after we'd said our "hello's".
We jogged from Ham House to Richmond Park (Ham Gate) and then started the lonnnnnng climb to Pembroke Lodge which would be our first "water" stop. It was tough going in these early stages. We chatted a bit but respected the silent passages, letting our efforts dominate proceedings. After a hundred years, we reached Pembroke Lodge and TT gulped down some water from the drinking fountain. I was carrying a water bottle so glugged from that. Before long we were off again, bound for Roehampton gate, a mere 500 miles away! (OK....3K or so, but you get my drift).
At Roehampton Gate we stopped again, as TT swallowed as much as she could from the water fountain and I even topped up my bottle. We walked a bit in the sun, chatting about stuff then she produced her beans!! A packet of jellybeans! We had two each and the gorgeous fruity flavour burst into our mouths giving us an instant sugar hit as well as a feeling of freshness. I'm gonna get me some of them thar beans. They are just the ticket on a long run. Beans swallowed, we restarted our garmins and off we went again. I didn't even notice kilometres 2,3,4,5,6 and 7 and before too long Gertie Garmin beeped out 8K had just passed. HALF WAY!
Our next stop was to be a water stop at a gate I can't remember the name of and to our horror, there was no working water fountain! It was there sitting next to the gated entrance to the park, but the button didn't work! TT noticed that a bucket of water had been left by the gate for the horses to have a slurp from and for one frightening minute, I had visions of TT on her knees, taking a drink from the horse bucket! But like a trooper she said not to worry, we'd press on to the next gate and raid the water fountain there! I think it was this next section that included "Dark Hill" - a hill which drained you of all energy, pulling you almost backwards in it's fight to stop you ascending the muthaf***er. TT managed to maintain her pace upwards (she's extremely fast and nimble), but I dragged to an almost stop. It was SOOOO hard to reach the top, but when I did eventually join TT at the summit, we both stood still for a while, to allow our heart rate to drop. Mine was beating like a drum and the sunshine was making us both overheat.
As though by magic, a slew of clouds slid their way into Mr Suns penetrating beams and dropped the temperature a degree or two. The next phase was so much better because of this, and because it was downhill for a good way. The glory of gravity made its presence felt as we luxuriated in the downhill section, allowing our legs to recover from the efforts of Dark Hill. We soon reached Kingston Gate. Now where was that bas**rd drinking fountain?
There wasn't one! NIGHTMARRRRRE!! Poor TT had run God knows how far without a drink of water. I offered her a slug from my diminishing water bottle but she decided to fight on until Ham Gate - the gate where we had entered the park just over an hour ago. She said there was definitely one there......
Reached Ham Gate and the place where the fountain HAD been was now just a rusty imprint on a wall where it had once been attached. This is when TT got on her soap box, cursing the park, cursing the lack of care for human beings who use the park and obviously need water to drink and generally getting more and more annoyed. She took a slug from my bottle and it was then that I looked towards the toilets - right by the gate. There, sitting outside was a little stainless steel sink with a water fountain spout attached!!! TT all but leapt over the fence to get to it and we both took a drink and then had a laugh about her "soap box" moment. I could totally understand it though because there should be a working fountain at EVERY bloody gate entrance! It's not as though they can't afford it. Richmond has THE most expensive council tax in the country!!! Go figure!
We had done 14K. Two more and I will have reached my virgin 10 miles. But I was flagging now. Questioning my ability. I was so knackered, that even a measly 2K seemed like a marathon. Thoughts flew through my head. To hell with the half marathon training. To hell with running more than 10K. It was just too far and I was far happier when I was running 5K's in under 30 minutes. Perhaps I'd taken too much on? I'm 52 years old and not as young as I used to be - but I am FAR FITTER than I used to be! So maybe I should stop being negative? Maybe I should get on with it, maybe Mrs Dan is right and I do moan too muc....
"Ready DAN?" said TT. "Final bit now. Easy!"
"Let's do this!"
"We're gonna SMASH it!"
15K beeped. We were on an endless straight path towards Ham House which went on for ages, but we soon reached the end and then onto the road, back towards the car park where we'd met earlier. I kept looking at my garmin. TT gave me encouraging sounds like "half a K to go".....then I said "300 metres"....it was getting to the point where even ten metres couldn't come quick enough....when suddenly...
BEEEEEEEP BEEEEEPETY BEEEEEEP!!!
16K!!! We had done it. WOW! 1 hour 36 minutes 26 seconds and nine of those K's were under 6 mins! Check this out dudes - connect.garmin.com/modern/a...
We got back to the car park and bought lemonade lollies, in honour of Aussie's grandpa who had sadly passed on. There'd been a facebook thing about it (I'd missed it) but TT knew all about it and the deal was that anyone doing runs today would buy a lemonade lolly and take a selfie, in honour of Aussie Gramps who also liked the odd same flavoured lolly. Boy, he had a good taste! A lolly had never tasted SO GOOD! The coldness. The sweetness. The way it melted giving you odd moments of cold lemonade. Oh boy, I enjoyed that!
So thanks to TurboTortoise for her brilliant support. Amazingly, apart from feeling tired, I feel bloody great! No aches or pains thank God. Although.....there's always tomorrow!
Thanks for reading,