Sunday, 30 November 2014

The Delightful Downton Half

When you're stumbling about at 09:20 with one eye that won't open properly, tripping over empty wine bottles and searching for your trainers before a 10am race, it probably won't be a personal best sort of day. However, after a raucous 30th birthday celebration and failed "few drinks and move on to water" strategy, I was happy enough just to make it to the start line.

This was my fourth outing to the Downton Half marathon; it's a brilliantly challenging course with some lovely big hills. Race New Forest are a fabulous group of people who run great series of events but I think this is my favourite. There are just the right amount of people racing, spectacular views of the New Forest and always plenty of friendly faces.

All the things I could not consume..
The first friendly face was that of Eleanor Rutter, a marvellous woman who seems to race and/or marshal every event in the South. She handed me my timing chip with a huge portion of hug and then miraculously was out marshalling on the course moments later, shouting support and telling us all how wonderful we were.

I wasn't convinced I was going to feel wonderful at all. I felt so ill I couldn't even drink water let alone face the bacon sarnie that was lovingly prepared for me. As soon as I started running though, I felt immediately better about life. I felt so great about everything that it is possible I was actually not hungover at all but still mildly inebriated.

Another squeal of support came from the hugely enthusastic Nicky Yevko and Davie, who had popped over on his bike to give me a cheer.

I was very excited to see my loud and cheery two-man support crew of Muv and Holly jumping around as I started the run up to Castle Hill, just before the 8 mile point. At this point I still hadn't regained any sort of appetite and was definitely not in my right mind as I declined jelly babies. The Castle Hill loop was hard enough to increase my need for sugar so I demanded sweets as I came back out the other side.

Still feeling fabulous, I picked up the pace a bit as the course meandered through Woodfalls but at 10 miles, my belly started to rumble and my energy levels started to drop. I needed sugar. At just past 11 miles, I was struggling. Luckily at that very instant, my support crew were coming past in the car so I went to get more jelly babies but my face dropped when I learned they'd all been given to other runners. Instead, Holly dangled a very unappetising piece of bread out of the window from my uneaten bacon sandwich (and she had stolen the bacon. Bad news.). I was not in the mood for a piece of bread.

Post-race giant cookie heaven
Seeing the 12 mile sign gave me a boost and I managed to find a bit more energy. Another cheer from Eleanor at the end of Moot Lane was enough to get me to the finish. Regardless of the time it took, this half marathon was definitely my most impressive. Having good people in the vicinity makes all the difference and today, the boosts of support and smiley marshals got me around.

I came home, laid on the sofa and ate my giant birthday Ben's Cookie (genius gift, thanks sis). Job well done.

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