Okay, so who was taking bets on me falling over during today's race? Who had a side bet that it would happen within the first mile and involve man's best friend? If you had money on this you'd have made out like a bandit today! We were pootling along at a nice easy pace, a lady I know was about 20' ahead of us and I heard her say a cheery 'good morning' to a walker with a dog on a lead. We didn't hear a reply. As we approached I said 'good morning' and Husbando that there were about 100 runners coming along. No reply, we thought nothing of it and ran on around a corner, Husbando a few paces behind me. Next thing I know the dog is running around my ankles - he'd been let off his lead. I had two choices, stop quickly or drop kick the dog over the hedge and into the field. I chose to stop quickly and in doing so ended up twisting my knee and falling over. I thought that this was end-ex for me - it was that stabbing, sick making pain that could be really nasty. Lots of runners stopped to see how I was as I stood, crying and swearing, by the side of the path. The dog owner walked off without a backward glance.
I walked a while, then tried a gentle jog, it actually hurt slightly less to run than to walk, so I knew I would make it to the end of the first lap, but decided that a marathon was out of the question. I was greatly cheered when I spotted a fire engine, and firemen! I finished the first lap, swearing all the way and casting aspersions about the size of the dog walker's genitalia (which seemed to amuse a fellow runner and blogger from irunoffroad greatly!) and ate a handful of painkillers when I got to the aid station. The painkillers, along with industrial quantities of sweets, seemed to do the trick and I set off for an experimental second lap. Husbando was brilliant, staying with me rather than running on, we settled into a steady pace, where we could chat quite happily. We passed the dog owner again, I called him a rude name under my breath and felt a bit better. Later on lap 2 we ran into the firemen again - and they blew their horn at me! Husbando made smutty comments about hoses and horns - he obviously wasn't working hard enough!
We decided that 3 laps (about 14 miles) would be enough. Husbando had run 16.4 miles at Timelord on the Thames on Wednesday, my knee was hurting, 14 miles is a respectable distance for a Sunday. But, we got to the aid station and start finish area, changed shoes (and in Husbando's case applied Compeed blister plasters) and thought, 'What the heck, let's do one more!' After you've faffed at the aid station for a few minutes, eaten sugar laden treats, drunk full fat coke and when you know that the first few hundred metres are downhill it is very easy to go on. And boy did we faff at the aid stations! Husbando stopped his Garmin whenever we were stuffing our faces, I left mine running - over the course of the race we spent 30 minutes not running! This is testament to the friendliness of the race organisers, the support of other runners (Husbando is very grateful for the Compeed) and my greediness when faced with a box of Haribos!
At the end of lap 3 we didn't ring the bell, we'd decided to see how we felt after a wee rest. On the 4th lap we pretty much decided that we were going to run 6 laps (28 miles). This would be Husbando's first marathon. He hadn't even begun his marathon training programme, and I hadn't run a marathon since September. We really were not respecting the distance! Towards the end of lap 5 I heard words that I never thought I'd hear 'I'm struggling to keep up with you!' I switched us to a 9min run/1 min walk strategy, although I blatantly ignored it if we were on a downhill when we should be walking! We hit 26.2 miles in 4hrs 43 (or 4hrs 20 actual moving time) and celebrated with a hug and a 2 minute walk break before resuming our plod to the finish.
The course was gently undulating, running around Staunton Country Park in Havant - only 1,500' of elevation over the entire marathon, but the little hill at the end of each lap got steeper and steeper! We had walked up it on lap 5, but ran it on the last lap - just to show the hill who was boss!
We rang the bell and collected our medals and hugs from the race director. My knee had got to the stage where it hurt so much it no longer hurt... well - that's what I was telling myself as we hobbled back to the car! Husbando had just run his first marathon and I am very proud of him! It is the first time I have run an entire race with someone else - and we didn't kill each other!
Huge thanks to the organisers and the support of all the runners today. If you haven't done an On The Whistle event BOOK ONE NOW - you'll have to be quick though as they sell out quickly!