Friday, 21 March 2014

Run forest run

I have been awful at updating this blog recently, pretty much like the running itself once you stop its hard to keep going.

So here’s what has been happening.

Halfway to victory

I ran a half marathon in 2 hours 15 minutes. When my friend told me that was the time we were aiming for, I laughed heartily for a bit and said: “No chance.”

But due to stubbornness on my part, and refusing to get left behind I diligently followed at a pace of just over 10 minute miles for the whole thing.

It was a strange experience. First off it was on a motor racetrack, and you had to loop it six times before you were allowed to finish. The crowd of cheering families and supporters was less of a crowd and more a collection of people in coats wondering why they were spending their Sunday afternoon watching someone pass them 6 times in the freezing cold over 2 hours.

I learnt some valuable lessons that day, namely:

The less clothes, the more serious the runner. If someone is wearing tiny running shorts and a vest, they are planning on going FAST. If they’re in a fleece, probably slow. 

WIND is EVIL. There was so much wind, blasting itself uncomfortably into my face for half of every lap. Note – swearing at the wind doesn’t make it go away, but does make you feel better. 

I am faster than I thought – due to always running alone, I tend to go on the slow side, mainly due to a fear of not being able to finish and having to just give up and die on the side of a road somewhere in Brussels. 

I can run 5k under 30 minutes (FINALLY). 

Running fast makes my legs sad – despite the happiness from running much faster than I thought, I now have a perpetual problem in my left ankle – that does not seem best pleased, which led to 2 weeks off.

Energy gels are awesome. 

People definitely shouldn’t take pictures of you when you’re running.


As I said, due to problems in my left ankle, followed by genuine fears I’d never even get to the starting line of the marathon, I had to take two weeks off. I therefore set myself a goal, if I could do 18 miles before the race, I’d run, if not I’d sack it off.

Good news, I ran (or at least propelled myself forwards for 18 miles) at the weekend and man was it hard.

I rather stupidly thought I’d mix things up and try running in the forest, it’ll be lovely, I thought naively.

First off Brussels has a big ol’ forest at the bottom of the city, and it has three routes marked out for runners: 5k, 10k, 20k. My idea was to do the 20k, then the 10k, which I did (I also walked back to the metro station, so in fact I did more than 30k).

BUT Jesus effing Christ was I not prepared for off road running. Normally, when you run you go in a straight line and you look down at your running watch – and you can see the miles tick by.

Not on off road! Due to winding paths, and steep hills, and gangs of elderly Nordic walkers (watch our for those sticks) – every time I looked at my watch, I seemed to have barely gone half the distance I thought I had.

At one point I ran up a massive hill, ended up in a car park, realized I was terribly lost, and had to take a minute to compose myself – and basically think, do I have to start a new life living in the forest with only running gear for company? Luckily, I found my path and started up again.

By 16 miles, I had run out of water, my legs were complaining loudly. I pathetically tried running for 30 seconds at a time, then went back to walking. It was at that moment; I could have given up. I seriously would have given anything right there to just stop, but I didn’t. I soldiered on.

AND my watch died. So I never found out how far I really went, taking into account getting lost, it must have been about 19 miles! Bloody hell.

My foot is now back to niggling away at me, but I read something recently that stuck with me.

Running a marathon isn’t about the day, that’s just one day of your life. It’s about the months of sweat, swearing and sucking it up you have to do beforehand.

So yeah – I just need to get through one day and its done.

2 weeks to go.

(In addition I have started having constant nightmares about the marathon itself - hurrah!)


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