Tracey and I took the morning train up to Bath on the Saturday. It really was a fairly uneventful journey, the English countryside was unsurprisingly covered by grey cloud and while we were on an initial high for the first part of the trip, the rocking of the train pretty well lulled us into a state of almost sleep.
Arriving in Bath, we used our super-duper navigational skills (i.e. follow the other tourists) to get to the hotel. The Hilton was insanely close to the start line, so location-wise we couldn't have been better. The room wasn't ready, but no bother, we set out on foot to explore Bath.
First stop - the Jane Austen Centre! So yes, it really was all women in the store, but that's the thing about Austen, it doesn't matter what age you are, everyone loves themselves a little Mr. Darcy. I even picked up a reusabe shopping bag that said "I love Mr. Darcy" on the front. I said at the time that it would be for my sister-in-law, but now I think i might just keep it for myself (sorry V...)
From there we really just wandered around the city, stumbling across a used book stall (and spending the better of an hour browsing through their many titles), having a very late lunch with a generous glass of wine, and re-visiting the Jane Austen centre for a late afternoon tea.
Apart from some minor mishaps that night, from discovering that I had forgotten my toothbrush, to subsequently finding out that I had forgotten contact lens fluid, we had a relatively quiet night in. Yes,we may have eating more junk food in the form of pizza and pasta, and yes the aforementioned food may have been eaten a little too late at night, but race rules are meant to be bent right? Or at least that was our mantra for the weekend.
Race day, Tracey had unfortunately been up since the wee hours of the morning, while I had happily passed out solidly for the entire night (and I'm sure kept her awake with my lovely symphony of snoring).
Matt, Helen and Jess arrived around 9.30, Matt was wearing about 5 layers, Jess was ready with her hiking boots and parka (and promptly took on the role of official photographer), and Helen of course, showed up eating a pack of parma ham.
Outside, the weather was perfect, a slightly brisk but clear blue skies and sunny day. Runners and spectators were milling about, most were heading towards the runners village so we followed the crowd. Getting there, things were slightly chaotic. Because there were 15,000 participants, we were grouped into colours based on our expected finished times. Whites were taken to the start line first, then greens and then oranges.
It was about 14 minutes before we actually started moving and before I knew it, we were crossing the start line and it had started.
A couple things about the race:
- It was a two-lap course, so before the first half hour I already had some Kenyan guy lapping me
- Everything was marked in miles, and lemme tell ya, trying to multiply everything by 1.6 is difficult when you want to keel over
- Oh, and the mile markers were different depending on whether you were on the first lap or second lap.. imagine my confusion when I was rounding the corner during the first lap and it said I had done 8 miles already! Despite my inability to multiply that into kilometers, it still sounded way too high
For the most part the scenery in the race was a bit disappointing. I had imagined running through historical streets and winding countryside roads. Instead it was mainly plain residential areas and commercial properties. At one point though, we ran out of the "town" and into the countryside where it was rolling hillside, bright blue sky and old English manors in the distance. Quite lovely, even at mile 10...
The final two miles, I was ready to die. My mind was screaming for me to stop and walk, but my pride wouldn't let me. There were people wearing t-shirts that had the phrase "Pain is temporary, winning is forever" on the back. While I ran, those words kept going through my mind, over and over again, driving me to take that next step.
Honestly though, the last mile I was ready to end. Cruelly enough, the race course starts to turn corners, so at every corner you know that the finish is closer, but you can't see the damn finish line. It's actually disheartening when you know that you're so close to the finish, but you can't see it.
When I finally turned that last corner and saw the finish line, tears came to my eyes and I almost started sobbing from pure relief and happiness with the knowledge that it was over, and I had done it. I held it together though, as no one wants to be the poor fool who's blubbering as they cross the finish line. Instead, I decided to clap like a fool....
A big thank you to:
Tracey - my amazing running buddy, couldn't have done this without you and yes, I will think about the Berlin marathon.. you're right, good things do come in 'B's!
Matt - thanks for pacing and being in my line of sight during the race, I definitely wouldn't have made the time I did had you not been there for me to follow
Jess - for getting up at the crack of dawn to be the official photographer of the race, Detroit, you totally rock
Helen - trust you to rock up with a packet of parma ham! thanks for feeding us post-race with your Waitrose treats, arf!
Getting psyched up at the start line
Our amazing cheer squad / entourage!
And a few more official race photos....