I read pinkaardvark's post over on the Bridge to 10k forum with amusement and awe last week where his HM was described as "An unexpected and unplanned HM...". Mine was planned and scheduled to within an inch of its life! Here is a write up of my first HM experience. Sorry if it's a bit rambling.
After a little deliberation about three months ago I agreed to enter the first Saxon Shore Herne Bay to Whitstable HM. The positive comments on this forum and my friend chipping away at me did the trick. I think I wanted to see if I could do it.
I love a good plan and lots of structure so went for a My Asics plan, three runs per week. This really suited me and my lifestyle, doing the generally shorter runs during the week after work and the longer run at the weekend. As those who follow me on Strava will know, I diligently followed the plan, crossing the runs off on my printed plan stuck to the front of the fridge. How did we manage our lives before fridge magnets and post-its? I digress.
When I got mid-way through the plan, my old enemy the unexpected emergency toilet stop reared its head. It seemed I was not alone and after receiving advice on here, resorted to loperamide (Imodium) before long runs and routes that looped back near my house. Mr L-L was generally unsupportive at this point and I felt a bit low but pressed on regardless. I couldn't let my friend down.
Then a change in support after Mr L-L cycled with me on my two longest (11 mile) runs. At 5 miles he asked, "Aren't you knackered yet?" Of course I was but I was also nearly half way! Afterwards he even told the kids he was impressed (didn't tell me of course, it just came out later in conversation).
All of a sudden it was the week leading up to race day. A 5k for the speed challenge was a stormer (I know I was meant to be tapering) but a slower 5k two days before the race was awful. I had to stop for a poo behind a tree.
Race day dawned grey and drizzly - perfect. Bag was packed the night before. Checklist was crossed off. We all set off in the car to Herne Bay. Arrived at my friend's house. Toilet visit. Took Imodium. She looked nervous but excited. Five minute walk to the race start. Numbers collected. Timing chip attached. Bags dropped. Hat on. Another toilet visit. Everything according to plan. And we were off!
I knew my friend hadn't prepared as thoroughly as me but she did have the benefit of a HM under her belt last year and does Boot Camp four days a week. We set off aiming for 10 minute miles which I knew was a little bit of a challenge for her but she was up for it. After about 4 miles I could tell the pace was a struggle and we slowed to about 11 minutes/miles. Between 5 and 6 miles disaster struck when her hips started playing up. We walked for a bit, ran for a bit. She told me to go on without her. I said no. We stopped and she did some stretches. We ran for a bit. We walked for a bit. She told me again to go on without her as she could see I had "so much wind in my sails". This was the worst part of the race for me. I didn't want to leave her, she wanted me to go. I dithered. My only bit of dithering in the last 12 weeks! I agreed to go. I gave her a big hug and a kiss and set off in pursuit of "Sweaty T-Shirt Man" who we had been chasing for the last 3 miles or so.
The rest is a bit of a blur. I overtook Sweaty T-Shirt Man, Bouncy Pony Tail Girl and Crazy Legs Crane. I fixed my sights on the next runner and gradually hauled them in. My limited hill work paid off as that is where I did most overtaking. All the time I was thinking about my friend and hoping she was OK. I nearly turned round so many times.
Then I was at the 10 mile marker. Only 3.1 miles to go. Ate my first jelly baby which I immediately regretted as it dried my mouth out. Swigged some water. Pushed on through the crowds on Herne Bay sea front with push chairs, dogs, scooters, bikes...couldn't they see there were runners coming through?! Youth Playing Music Out Loud overtook me. I tried slipstreaming him but he gradually got away. Then I spotted two friends on a park bench taking photos. A lovely lift! I inched back towards Youth Playing Music Out Loud. Then I saw my friend's family. Another lift! Shouted something about having to leave her. Then there was my family. Another lift! Asked son to run the last 200m with me - no chance (not cool when you are 15). Couldn't quite catch aforementioned Youth Playing Music Out Loud and over the line I went.
The man removing timing chips pounced on me, I grabbed my medal and a bottle of water and did a U-turn back to my band of supporters. Friend's husband was tracking her phone - she was nearly at the clock tower. I thought my legs were finished but off I set back down the route with her two kids. Stopped briefly to explain what was going on to photographer friend. There she was! Looking exhausted but still running. The three of us ran all the way to the finish with her - over the line she went.
This time I really was finished. Give me water and shade. And of course an ice cream.
Finish position: 294/596
Chip Time: 2:12:27
In summary: Not entirely run to plan but not a bad job for a 49-year old who started running less than a year ago.
The future: Probably not another HM as the preparation was so time consuming. However, Sweatshop Maidstone have a sale on at the moment, and I need some new running shoes...who knows where they will take me.
And finally: Enormous thanks to all those on this forum and Strava who have given me more encouragement, support and advice than I could ever have imagined from a bunch of virtual friends.
Lots of love from Langley-Loper xxx