|I made it and I've got a medal, energy bar and fruity Porsche shaped sweets to prove it!|
As I write this the memories of a wonderful day come flooding back to me. The melee at the start line, the joking and the camaraderie amongst the runners. Seeing Kelly Holmes, the official starter, and hearing her tell us to pace ourselves "...as it's a long way and it's a hot day!" She wasn't kidding either I must have perspired, no let's call it what it was, sweated enough to fill Haysden Lake! I remember the pounding of two thousand feet on the road as we rounded the bend into Molescroft Way. The chats on the way with people I recognised, the friendly faces in Leigh clapping and pushing us all on with their shouts of encouragement. As the field of runners became ever more stretched out in the countryside around Watts Cross and Chiddingstone Causeway some where finding it all a little too much and where, in some cases literally, being carried by their fellow runners; others were receiving first aid from the St. John's Ambulance volunteers. As we rounded the corner in Leigh for the second time some one shouted out that there were only four miles to go and I realised that I was in unknown territory. I'd never ran further in my life so I knew the rest of the course was going to hurt and I'd have to dig deep. More than once I had the urge to stop and just walk for a bit but I also knew that once I'd done that the concentration and momentum would have gone and it would be difficult to start running again. Although I'd ran along Lower Haysden Lane many times, at the end of the half marathon it seemed to go on forever, it may as well have been Route 66! Past the Country Park entrance, even more familiar territory I thought that I'd have enough energy for one final flourish in front of the crowds still gathered along Brook Street but, when it came to it, my legs felt like lead and it was all I could do to just get to the finish line. My son shouted to me somewhere along that home straight and I was vaguely aware of him running along side me for a while on the other side of the barriers. I told him afterwards that I might not have finished but for his encouragement. He thinks I was joking, but I'm not sure I was! I don't think it was Dame Kelly who put the medal around my neck as I crossed the finish line but I was too knackered to notice anyway, all I wanted to do was drink some cool water and pour a few buckets of it over my over-heating head. So that was my experience of a wonderful day on Sunday. Thanks to the organisers and sponsors and may see you again next year when I reckon I should easily be able to shave off at least those 37 seconds!