Yesterday, I took part in the Enigma 50th Anniversary World Cup Winners marathon.
I entered the race probably about a year ago - it drew my attention as it was a one off celebration race and I wouldn't have the opportunity to do such a race again, well, not for another 50 years anyhow!
It was an afternoon start, starting at 3 pm "kick off" time. Sadly, it took me much longer than 90 minutes to complete the race.
It was a day of firsts for me. The Enigma races are run by David "Foxy" Bayley and it was my first time running with the Fox and my first afternoon race.
We had a rocky start to the day. I headed off with my girls over to my dad's house and we were hit by roadworks, huge road traffic accidents and what has to be the slowest, ever driver in the world (and who should be banned from driving forever). After arriving at my dad's late, we set off in Sandra's car on the long trek down to Milton Keynes.
One plus was an easy morning - no early start and battling the girls at 6 am. I was not really sure how to fuel. I'm a morning runner and tend to run before food. When I have a morning race, I get up super early for porridge as I struggle to run after eating. Yesterday, I had my usual porridge at breakfast but wasn't up for lunch and I didn't want to risk a stitch.
The setting of the race was gorgeous, based at Caldecotte Lake. There had been a marathon already in the morning, then a half over lunchtime. I was just doing the afternoon race but some others had done the marathon in the morning and were doing the one in the afternoon too. Crazy. The route was 7 loops around the lake.
Apart from a fly incident on my first loop, the first 3 laps went well. (There were clouds of small flies under a tree lined section of the route - on my first lap, I didn't notice them and plowed straight through them, getting them in my hair, up my nose and I managed to swallow a fair few also).
On my second lap, I ran with a lovely lady called Sunny. What an amazing lady - she had run the morning marathon and still looked completely fresh - she had run 4 marathons in a row last weekend and had had surgery earlier in the year - absolutely incredible - what an inspiration.
It was a cloudy day but extremely warm and I was getting hotter on each lap. I took on some water and had small bit of gel to try and give me a boost.
Halfway through the fourth lap, I was struggling with the heat. I had developed pain at the bottom of my tummy (probably due to the gel). I was full of self doubt and loathing. I felt like a complete failure - I had dragged my family half way down the country so I could do just half a race and I felt like I had let them down. The route appeared easier than Lions Bridge marathon - no monster hills, no giant puddles and I was so frustrated that I was finding it so tough. For some reason, I found the second stretch of the loop harder than the first but it appeared flat and should have been much easier than I found it. On the route, there was a "windmill" pub and the beer garden was full of families relaxing and having an afternoon drink - I wondered why I had chosen to spend my afternoon running around a lake when I could be sat in a beer garden somewhere with my feet up! I bumped into my girls who were along the course playing and I burst into tears. I felt dreadful and could not finish so my girls walked back with me to the finish.
My girls were absolute superstars. Both providing me with words of wisdom. Millie was encouraging me to finish - telling me that I was over halfway - she was having fun and wanted a late night and a McDonald's on the way home! Eva told me that her teacher said I was an inspiration. Eva commented that I had done over 15 miles which is more than she could run as apparently Eva is a sprinter.
I got to the end of the 4th lap and told the marshal I was retiring. I just wanted the race to be over. At this point, a knight in shining armour (well, a 100 marathon club vest) came to my rescue. My dad introduced me to Paul Sutherland. He had not run the race, just come along for a training run with his daughter and to support the runners. He kindly took me around the 5th lap, even carrying a bottle of water for me like a true gentleman. He gave me lots of advice about how to get around without making me feel like a complete muppet! Part way around this lap, we came across another 100 club member, also called Paul. He joined us on lap 5.
Both Pauls were hugely experienced marathon runners and I was so grateful for their help. Both distracted me by chattering away and I managed to get to the end of lap 5. I bid farewell to Paul S and the second Paul, continued with me (Paul doing his final lap, me on my 6th). We were walking/running around the lap and the other runners we came across were all brilliant and really supportive and to be honest, so were the general public who were out and about with their families. The only people who didn't offer words of encouragement were the Pokemon hunters who were out in force and were glued to their phones!
We made it around to the end of Paul's final lap/my penultimate lap and I bid farewell to my second helper. All I needed to do now was do a final loop. Armed with my camera, I headed off. I used my plan of taking photographs to get me around the final lap and give me a distraction. By this time, the sun was setting and the lake was beautiful. I managed to get some fantastic shots - so that was one bonus of me finishing later than the rest of the runners!
This is my favourite shot of the day.....
I have never been so happy to see the smiling faces of my family and the finish line! I was greeted by my family and Foxy armed with my huge, heavy finishers medal!
I am so pleased to have finished the race - I still feel incredibly guilty for making them hang around so long whilst I had a mini meltdown!
Finish photos are not the most flattering of photos. Mine sums up exactly how I felt!
Amazing bling (thank you Foxy) and I was extremely lucky to meet a group of amazing people. Thank you all for making me feel so welcome.
After yesterday's race, I vowed never to run again and announced my retirement. I am now counting down to the Not the Rio Marathon next month and currently re-thinking my training/fuelling strategy! What is wrong with me? I think this running fever is a disease!
These are a selection of the shots taken on my last lap.....