Well, yesterday was the day of The Queen's Birthday Bash Marathon, another It's Grim up North event, set in the stunning grounds of Kirkstall Abbey.
It was quite a family affair with my hubby and girls joining me, my step mum, Sandra, and my grandad coming along to provide support too.
Sadly, a few days before the race I caught a cold and I had been trying to desperately get rid of it by any means (generally involving inhaling lots of vapour rub so I could breathe) so it wouldn't affect my running. No such luck. Despite pleas from my husband to back out of the race, I went ahead and ran anyway!
The start is actually in the grounds of the Abbey. Quite a spectacular backdrop for the race.
There was a marathon, an ultra and setting off slightly later, a half marathon. The marathon was 3 laps of a mixed course; part trail, part road and part canal path. There were about 30 runners in the marathon and the ultra so I was a little concerned that I would come last.
It was perfect running weather; cool but no rain. We set off shortly after 9 am in a group which soon dispersed and I was left with a small group of about 4 other runners. Eventually, I ended up running along with a friendly chap called Roy. Thanks to Roy's tales of races and running club gossip, the first lap seemed to fly by. Back at the start, I was welcomed by my crazy family and my dad! Sadly, my dad had had an asthma attack and decided to wait for me so he could run slowly around the course! Like me, when faced with illness, my dad doesn't give up! Off we set on our second lap. I much preferred the trail parts of the course - running through overgrown pathways and trails, being hit along the ankles by nettles and branches! My dad, however, preferred the canal side stretches.
Towards the end of the second lap, I developed tummy issues - my tummy swelled like a balloon and I kept getting tummy cramps. I'm always conscious of my posture when running especially towards the end of a race when I start getting tired - keeping my tummy tucked in and trying to run tall, back straight. Due to a delicate tum, I couldn't stand tall and was running more like Groucho Marx! Attractive.
After a quick toilet and drink stop at the end of the second lap, we were back on our way. My legs felt strong but on this final lap, I was struck down with dizziness (it's interesting running when dizzy with blurred vision). Due to my cold, I thought this would affect me sooner so I had been lucky. I persevered and with the aid of my dad (who was on a mission to try and catch up with runners in front) the final lap wasn't as bad as I imagined it would be.
I have suffered in other races and found the final miles quite a struggle which resulted in me walking quite a bit, but yesterday I did more running than walking, even during those last few miles. I did walk up cow mountain though (which is basically a rather steep hill which goes through a field of cows; cows who appear to have absolutely no fear of humans and who like to stand right in the middle of the path, just to make your race slightly more challenging - cow dodging should be a sport in its own right).
At the end of the last lap, we managed to overtake a couple of marathoners, we even lapped one, and caught the back end of the half marathoners too. We arrived back at the finish to cheers and claps from the other runners and the marshals. Shamefully, I was lapped (twice) by the winner of the ultra, Terry. However, despite Terry finishing way before me, he still hung around to support all the other finishers.
In celebration of the Queen's 90th birthday, the event organisers had put on a fantastic spread of sandwiches, scones and fabulous cakes. There was even some fizz so we could toast the Queen and each other! To be perfectly honest, it was probably the thought of the cake at the finish that spurred me on to the end.
My husband was probably right (yes Jon, you read that right) and I shouldn't have run but I'm glad I did. Another great event by It's Grim up North Running - friendly and supportive marshals, a great bunch of runners, a nice little route and a fantastic warm welcome at the finish.
My only one minor gripe was that the toilets were not open when we arrived which involved me peeing in yet another bush but thankfully, the toilets at the Abbey shop were opened just before the race started in time for one final pit stop before we headed off!
I actually feel rather good today and I am able to manage stairs (both up and down) without any difficulties. I did try to do my tummy strengthening exercises this morning mind but had to give up after developing cramp in the arch of my foot!!! I was probably feeling a bit over confident really exercising again so soon. Having said that, my dad was out training today - putting me to shame once again.
Well, that's marathon number 22 done. Looking forward to number 23.