Sunday, 23 March 2014

Maz's First 20 (+1)

Maz is an old school friend who has never been keen on exercise. She's a friend I can always rely on if what I need to do is sit in my pyjamas drinking wine and eating brownies. So, when she told me she had entered the London Marathon, my first reaction was to laugh out loud. I wasn't being cruel, I just didn't quite believe what I was hearing. Of all the people in my life who could possibly enter, she was far, far down on the list. She had suffered the same plight as many of us do, a drunken night with silly suggestions that get taken too far. I wasn't entirely sure she would take it very seriously, but held my hands up when I saw her a few weeks later only to hear about the rigorous running regime she was on. I was amazed.

I have been following her progress as the weeks have gone on and - as one of her few "friends that run" - have been listening intently to race plans, nutrition plans and training plans, offering advice where I can.

The long runs have worried her the most, so we entered a 20 miler together in the New Forest. I made out like I would be her rock for the run when actually I haven't run 20 miles since 2012 so I was probably worse off than she was, but I kept that a secret.

There were a lot of pre-event texts about being scared and possibly emotional, but we arrived at sunny Red Chute in high spirits. The run was made up of two 10 mile loops with three feed stations on each, so loads of opportunities to get water and sugary stuff.

From the start, straight up a hill..
We started out steady, and soon found ourselves going at a decent pace whilst chatting away. Soon the crowds broke up and we were running by ourselves, every now and again seeing somebody up ahead that we pick off. Maz was embracing the competitive spirit and we ended up overtaking 3 people on the first loop, even with stops for jelly babies.

After one lap, we realised that the route was over distance and that we would be running 21 miles in total, but so far we were going well and maintaining an even pace. A sudden, heavy hailstorm nearly caused a sense of humour failure but fortunately didn't last too long. I was in total awe of Maz, having gone from doing barely any exercise to breezing through 13 miles without breaking a sweat.

The term "gel run" was coined as the mediocre run you do when you're trying to faff about getting things out of your pockets/running pouch, but we didn't slow down much at any point and only stopped briefly at the water stations for a quick swig.

We picked off another 5 runners on the second lap and even picked up the pace towards the end. Maz came through the finish line, after 21 miles, looking like she'd just jogged casually down the road! It was a fantastic course with brilliant marshals, and I am so impressed and proud of Maz and the progress she's made!! I'm sorry for ever laughing.

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