Embrace the Race – 20.1.19

At our regular athlete / coach chats (Different from Husband / Wife ones as my views are listened to and considered although she still has demands that she expects to be met!) Mary set her aims for 2019.

After being fired again for some realism and then rehired (again) we both agreed some targets and came up with a long term plan and a good mesocycle.(How UKA coachy am I!)

So for the last few weeks apart from parkrun Mary has been doing the bulk of her training on the dreadmill to avoid the cold air affecting her asthma and buying kit to help keep out the worst of the British winter weather. Whereas I have been booking marathons that are laps so she can easily add layers or remove them as the conditions dictate.

Having enjoyed the Rungar Games with Saturn Running, the chance to run another of their excellent value races, fairly nearby was a no brainer.

So it was that we pulled in just after 9am to Greenham Common Control Tower carpark to register and drop bags before the 9:30 start. Over the 70mile journey the outside temperature had dropped from 4 degrees to -1 I was beginning to question my sanity for risking Mary’s health in her pursuit of another button on her Quest for the Vest hoodie. Even I had added on running tights and a light mid layer, it was that cold.

Arriving close to the off meant minimal time to socialise; in fact Mary missed the prerun briefing. After working out which way the race was starting – not as daft as it sounds as although the race was to be 4.37mile laps there were two different ones that you would alternate between! The west – Blue and The east – pink. Once we established the initial direction of travel Mary said something and I barely saw her for the next 6hours!

As Mary had acquired my MP3 player I was running my Aftershokz off my phone – with an increased playlist by number but certainly not by quality.

With tunes playing through my cheek bones I was off following the blue arrows west to start with around the flat hard gravel path before turning at the end to pass the fenced off large grass roofed atomic weapon and a plane silos left behind by the American military at the end of the cold war.

At the turn the ever present control tower came into view; a reminder of how far you had come or still had to go depending on how positive a person you are. Then to make the distance correct a diversion off the main path into a woodland section complete with 3 hills before returning back to the amazing aid station.

After collecting a band to record your lap, it was head out the way you came and follow the pink arrows along a lot of the parkrun route but with a few added twists and a loop so you started heading back along the way you ran out towards the aid station.

Waving at Mary as we passed I knew she was wrapped up well and was coping with the conditions. I fell into step with a pair of female runners who happily chatted to each other about the most fruity of subjects! Unaware that with Aftershokz headphones you can hear everything around you! I resisted the temptation to interject with some Jeremy Kyle type comments and questions but I did wonder how much people share with their running partners? Is this the new confessional? Unfortunately before I could hear more of the juicy details they moved away and I was left with Bryan Adams.

By lap 2 the weather had improved, the sunshine really warmed the runners and I considered ditching my midlayer. The only reason I didn’t was my Mr Bump top was rather snug! And I can’t even blame Mary for shrinking it as I got it new at the running show! Maybe it was a miss labelled Large?

Everytime I passed Mary she was wearing a different combination of tops, cleverly dealing with the weather.

After lap 3 I briefly considered stopping to log an early half on the 2019 Road Race League but despite a massive coughing fit I kept on chugging out laps.

The glorious sun disappeared behind a cloud and what an effect on the temperature… the race instructions advised that the common can feel a good 5 degrees colder with a breeze – it is a former airfield so lacks any tree cover. They weren’t lying! I consider getting out my light (boil in the bag) jacket but as it would involve bending I decided just to think warm thoughts.

What an error! For the last two laps the uneven gravel / stone path finally got to my feet: even with road shoes the padding wasn’t enough as the bottom of my feet hurt. So I slowed and slowed. With the cold this was made even harder. But with loads of time to make the cut off I kept going.

Ringing the bell at 6 laps marathon distance I had the time and option to go for an Ultra but I was a beaten man. So I stood coughing away as Mary came running in wearing mass of layers, looking tired but far from beaten by the conditions and or her asthma. It was me that was struggling with my persistent evil cough!

These are great events where one lap gets you a medal but you have a generous 6½ hour cut off to run as many laps as you want so they can be perfect for training for a many events as well as a marathon or 50km on their own. Unsurprisingly we have signed up for a few more of these events.