For my last long run I’d planned to do between 18-20 miles on Saturday. This was my third BIG mileage run. I’ve previously done an 18.5 miler and a 19 miler.
I’ve been feeling completely different to a few weeks ago when I felt fed up, anxious and just not feeling the marathon training. Now having got two big runs under my belt and nothing bad happening, I was ready to conquer the final one.
I wanted to tick Eastleigh parkrun off my parkrun list as it’s such a close parkrun to me and yet I’ve never done it. It’s literally ten minutes drive from where I live! As usual I got up at 5.45am on Saturday to be ready to run by 6.30am. I’d had a pretty crappy night sleep as the wind and rain hammered against my window and when I woke up it was still raining. I had memories of winter long runs…
I exchanged a few social media messages with fellow runners who were up and about to do their long runs too and we exchanged some good lucks and “God look at the weather” moans. It was nice as it didn’t make me feel so alone and crazy!
I headed out and it wasn’t actually very cold at all, quite humid but very wet. I was thankful that I was wearing a t-shirt and my running skort (and compression socks!). I felt a bit tired but otherwise I felt quite good. In fact, I felt really good!
The miles ticked by so quickly and before I knew it I was at five miles and heading towards Hedge End. I was soaked through and rain was dripping down my face but it was lovely and refreshing. I got to Hedge End after 10 miles and still felt good. I hadn’t really planned my route past getting to Eastleigh but I knew vaguely where the parkrun started so that would work, right? [Honestly, how I survive daily life amazes me with this supremely optimistic and naive view of the world I have]. I got through the tough hilly section of my route (there really is no way of avoiding these hills if I want to run from Stubbington to Hedge End).
I started to feel a slight bit of worry in my stomach as the time ticked past 8.30am and I wasn’t in Eastleigh yet… but it wasn’t much further. And that’s true. But where the parkrun was was. At 8.45am I decided to stop and check my phone. I knew the road names I needed to find and I knew it was located in Fleming Park. Basically, I knew where it was in a theoretical sense, but when you’re actually on the roads it’s very different. I found I was a fair bit away still.
Thankfully there were loads of signs for Fleming Park and I quickened my pace – my watch beeped past 17 miles. I finally found a park-like place and saw the wondrous sight of the parkrun flag… at 9:08am. I saw some marshals and gasped, “Can I please start late?”. And they kindly said that was fine and showed me the start. I reset my watch and got going.
Eastleigh parkrun is three laps, pretty much all on a grassy track around a park. I was running on my own as I was so far behind but soon the front runners were lapping me. I said well done to them as they past me, gazelle-like. I eventually caught up to the tail runner and made slow process overtaking the runners at the back. It was quite nice to be running past people and using them as markers to get through the run, which by now was feeling quite tiring.
There’s a horrible gentle incline that seems to go on for ages that you have to do three times and it was a killer. My friend, Aaron, caught up with me (him on his last lap and me on my second – he’s very speedy!) and we had a nice little chat before I told him to push on as he’s a lot faster and I didn’t want to hold him back (he was even running at a slower than normal pace for him as he was doing 16 miles in total!).
My parkrun time was 31:31 (ooh the number symmetry!) as I had started late though my watch said 25:36. I’m really happy with that as I felt like I was crawling by the end. I was completely soaked through and it was still raining. I felt more sorry for the marshals though who looked very cold and wet!
How cool does this map look of where I ran? It really shows how far 18 miles is!
I bumped into my old work colleague, Ian, which was nice. He was actually the person who told me about Hedge End Running Club back in the day. He’s not part of the club but he’s a regular runner and Eastleigh is his usual parkrun. Then I caught up with my friend, Aaron. He graciously bought me a Fruit Shoot drink (love those things) and we sat in the warm and dry of the café to have a natter. He’s planning on entering the Boston marathon so wanted some advice. He’s a very talented runner and is planning on doing the double – Boston and London (they’re five days apart). Crazy!
When we got up to leave I realised I’d left a little puddle of water in my chair from where I’d dripped…nice. We walked outside and Aaron ran home and my dad picked me up. I was now really cold so when I got home the first thing I wanted was a hot shower before anything else. My hair, though… God what a nightmare.
So knotted and tangled! My hairband was on so tightly I feared I’d rip out half my hair if I tried to pull it out. So I risked it for a biscuit…and used scissors.
Thankfully I avoided cutting any of my actual hair, whew!
When I drove back to my house after showering and breakfast (well, brunch!) I basically drove similar roads to what I’d run and found it ever so depressing how quickly I was zooming along those same streets. It was like Tom Hanks in Cast Away when he spends hours painfully trying to build fire and then at the end of the film picks up a lighter and flicks it on in a second…
Have you ever missed the start of a race or parkrun?
How do you deal with crazy knotted hair?
Do you mind running in the rain?