No it wasn't. Yes it was. No it wasn't. I must do my research properly.
Today's wodge of Comrades training took me to the Broadmeadow marathon in Stratford-on-Avon. A stunningly beautiful course. What does that mean? Yes (oh noes!), off road . And it is stunningly beautiful - I particularly remember a stretch of hedgerow in blossom with bluebells underneath, which I enjoyed for quite a while as the path next to it was too uneven for me to run on :/ The view of Warwickshire hills was indeed remarkable as I turned my ankle after 15 miles and had a full-on teary sweary tantrum which lasted a good half an hour ("WHY don't I do my research, WHY didn't I go to Milton Keynes or do my own training run, STUPID STUPID STUPID") (etc, at length, until I got it out of my system).
SIX HOURS it took me, well, just under (triumph!). By contrast Rome took 4:40 and over 10 minutes of that were spent in the bogs, plus another 5 spent queuing for drinks. After checking with the organiser I opted to take the "proper" 9am start, rather than one of the earlier ones. There would be a celebrity starter! David Troughton, a FOAF of the organiser - I had fond memories of his magnificent turn as the cluelessly ambitious Dr Bob Buzzard in A Very Peculiar Practice. (The idea would be that he would, as a Shakespearian Ac-tor, deliver the traditional Henry V speech at the start, but he couldn't quite remember it so it was more of a double-act in the event).
For the first mile, a doctor named Baz, dressed as a clown, kept me company and chatted about Comrades and fancy dress running. Then the first incline appeared and that was it, I was last.
Hey ho, I always say to my beginners, "no-one minds if you're last as long as you're
not taking the pis trying your best" - and having been a marshall I know that by and large this is true (particularly on an agreeable sunny day in the countryside when you have something to sit on). A lot of the course was out-and-back so I did still get to see other humans now and then, but imagine my delight when I realised two ladies were behind me! Actually no. I didn't remember overtaking them (one of them had bright purple hair...) so I just spent ten minutes worrying that I'd got lost and skipped some of the course. By this time I was too fuddled to remember that I was following the course on my Garmin and that deviations were announced to me with a loud farty buzzing noise, so if I'd got lost I would have noticed. I had got lost at least three times already so....
Anyway, we leapfrogged for a bit and then I also overtook a senior gentleman, and a bearded chap in a faded "Medics on Tour" tshirt who was walking along delving about in his snack bag. Who-hoo! I wouldn't be last back! I could stop feeling guilty about wanting to see Bob Buzzard and not wanting to get up at 6! The icing on the cake was overtaking one last group, two ladies, a bloke in a 100 Club tshirt, and his spaniel ("he's only done 34"). Out of the final 5!
But the best was yet to come. The last section was a hairpin along the old tramway and then back through the carpark to the cricket club. The moment the finish marshals catch sight of you heading in up on the tramway they give you a big cheer, which is great because you know it's just for you, and then when you finish a couple of minutes later - they offer you a big bottle of cider. Whch you couldn't take into the clubhouse obv. as there was a bar in there, so I had to drink it there and then, well that's my excuse anyway.
What I learned:
Turning your ankle can hurt like a monster and then be fine in five minutes
Christmas pudding carbloading doesn't bring on my runners' trots
I should not take up orienteering any time soon
The bluebells are out!
There is a pressing need for a non polluting solar-bicycle-hovercraft hybrid so that people can enjoy the countryside without fear of turning an ankle
There are dogs out there who have done more marathons than me
Garmin course support (bzzp) is a lifesaver for people who can't read and think and walk at the same time
You can be pleased about doing something even when you didn't enjoy it all of the time and wouldn't do it again
Cider is a great recovery drink when your feet hurt like ****