Tuesday, 29 December 2015

26.2 miles to hell and back!
29th NOVEMBER 2016

Having given myself the challenge of 50 marathons before I turn 50 years of age, I signed up to another 26.2 with Saxonshore.com .
A coastal amble along Dymchurch seafront, completely flat and good for PBs! Great I thought, what could possible go wrong?
Remembering my learns from last time, I prepared all my fuel and hydration, slept well and felt ready to conquer the world, well Dymchurch first, then the world!
The only thing out of my control were the elements.

Wind beneath my wings
Arriving at Dymchurch it became apparent very quickly that the weather was not on my side! A quick check on my phone confirmed a headwind of 45mph. A continuous gust that would helpfully be behind me for the first part of the out and back route and regrettably against me on my return. A simple route along the seafront to the brown fort and back needed to be completed 5.5 times to achieve marathon distance and even with the foul conditions it seemed achievable. I managed to find a familiar face and was invited to run with Dee and her friend Crustie.
We started at a good pace and chatted away, happily exchanging running stories and experiences, this is all very jolly I thought until we reached the turning point for the first time. Facing back into the wind we tried our best to keep running and talking, we soon realised this was pointless and opted for walking and less chit chat!

Blurred laps
Having Dee for company was amazing, we talked and battled through another lap, walking after the turning point and laughing at the mystical halfway rock that we were convinced kept moving! At times the wind was so strong, it was pushing us backwards and I felt like curling up into a small ball and hiding under a bench! Relentless as the wind was we were tough old birds and marched ever forward.
Traviss and the HQ gang were having their own issues with the gorgeous cake lovers buffet that had been laid out, being blown away every 2 minutes and supporters tried to find shelter whilst cheering on their loved ones.
The sea gradually built into an angry high tide and everything turned a gloomy grey.
The laps blurred into one another and a mirage of the fort kept tricking us into thinking we were near it, when alas we were still far away!
Cheerily we continued and set a course record for toilet stops, which was a welcome break and a chance to refuel and hydrate.
We marched out and back to get lap 4 done, all of us now exhausted mentally and physically from battling the winds. Each lap was taking an hour and thought of having one more lap still to complete was a bitter pill to swallow.

The mystical rock.

I get by with a little help from my friends.
With Dee and Crustie on board we stuck to the plan, run with the wind behind us and walk back in the opposite direction.
We smiled and acknowledged all the runners on the return part of the loop and tried to encourage individuals to keep going.
The Sunday marathon was the last day of marathons in a series of 5 that week. Some of these runners had already run 4 marathons in 4 days and had already battled similar elements all week. These runners were HARDCORE, I had a lot of respect and admiration for them. Once I’d thought about their journey and how they must be feeling I felt I had no right to complain!

There is a point in many situations where tiredness or exhaustion brings on hysteria, the last lap was our point!
Laughter, singing and selfies marked the way, still happily trying to run against the wind, it became a computer game. Getting to the next bench was like going up a level and beating the baddie.
Dee’s catchphrase as we stopped and started was “Run to the bins”, she shouted this sporadically and we obeyed! My favourite selfie of us, was by the mystical moving stone and for some reason we decided to have a mini rave, we look ridiculously happy about it and surprisingly awake!
Approaching the finish line was the best feeling in the world, as I crossed the line, I was so relieved and emotional, knowing I could stop running, had brought a tear to my eye. We all hugged and congratulated one another, we had put in an amazing team effort to get round.
Traviss had outdone himself with the medals this time, a medal depicting the Kent coastline which was as big an an Ipad was placed around my neck! A fantastic goody bag was provided too (but no chocolate orange was supplied this time and we all know how I feel about them!)
Relieved to be finished with Dee.

Battered by the winds, limbs aching, the cold and hunger had set in. I was bundled into the car and wrapped up in blankets and given a hot chocolate. It had felt weird saying goodbye to Dee and Crusite, we had formed a weatherproof bond in the 5.47 hours on the seafront. and I wondered if I would’ve got round without them?
A few hours later refreshed and still feeling victorious with my medal around my neck,  I browsed social media. Photos had already been posted with #racejokes added by Dee. We all commented on how hard it had been and congratulated each other once again.
For once I looked at the race results and I didn’t care about my position or time.
I had got something far more valuable than a top ten place, I got an incredible marathon experience with 2 AWESOME women…….and I’m not sure but I think I may just be invincible, having absorbed some of the magical powers of the mystical stone of Dymchurch!
Now one last time everyone, run to the bins!
Another awesome medal.

No comments:

Post a Comment