‘A specialist in failure’ is how would so far sum up my running career. Three half marathons spread over 5 years and each one has, in its own way been a gigantic disaster.
Firstly my running history…
At the 2009 Brussel’s half marathon I undertook some serious training and at the nimble age of 23 I thought I might have a good chance of running it in a half decent time. I have since learnt that pints of gin and tonics the night before are not the best preparation for a 21km run.
Despite the hangover I stumbled round the course in 2:10.
Of course, the 2009 Brussel’s half marathon was meant as a warm up 5 weeks before the Stroud half marathon in the UK. Sadly, after literally stumbling over the finish line in Brussels and then starting a new job, my training schedule essentially ceased to exist. I stopped running.
Again, I have since learnt that doing no exercise 5 weeks before a 21km is not such a good idea. However, hangover free and with a good night’s sleep behind me I managed to cut 10 minutes off my time and sneaked in just under 2 hours (notably 7 minutes slower that my to be father in law who is in his 50s and was running his first half marathon at the time).
On this latter occasion though I was running to raise some money for CLIC Sargent – an organisation that provides care for young people with cancer. So the money raised for a good cause provided a nice silver lining in Stroud.
For the last 5 years though I have dwelled slightly on these two relative failure of runs and always thought that I could, if I avoided being drunk and kept to a training schedule, manage to run a half marathon in a way that I was proud.
And so, 5 weeks ago I decided to sign up for the ‘Run for Fun’ race between Entebbe and Kampala here in Uganda.
I haven’t really run (let alone for fun) since 2009 and so the observant amongst you might have spotted a flaw already – 5 weeks really is not long enough to prepare for a half marathon.
However what I lacked in time, fitness and basic training I made up for in optimism. I not only signed up but also decided to start fundraising for the ‘The African Palliative Care Association’ (see ‘Why I am running for APCA’).
The problem with fundraising for a great cause is that it means you have to go public – you have to share your fundraising page on facebook, twitter and your blog etc. In other words, in my mind at least, there was no backing out.
2 weeks into my inadequate 5 week training I hit a rather painful stumbling block. Once again alcohol was at the root of the problem. Rather drunkenly on a Friday night I fell off the top of a moving Land Rover (spare me the ‘it could have been a lot worse’ comments, I quite realize this).
Luckily I did nothing more than land heavily on my bum – although it could have indeed been a lot worse.
This little alcohol induced stumble though did cause a lot of swelling all round my hip which took about 2 weeks to go down and left all of my muscles feeling rather tight.
For the last week before the date of the half marathon then I did not (could not) run. All I could do was a lot of stretching.
By the time the run came about my leg was feeling ‘OK’ with the exception of my groin that was still feeling tight on my right side.
In retrospect I had my doubts but spurred on my fiancé who was also running and who had also missed weeks of training due to a throat infection I thought I would ‘give it a go’ on the basis I could always stop if it started to really hurt.
16.5km and 1:45 into the race I was a feeling a bit tired but generally OK before sharp pains started shooting all down my left leg. This resulted in me limping the last 5km over a 45 min period brining me over the finish line at around 2:29.
To say that it was hurting at the end is an understatement (see above photographic evidence of me just over the finish line). This was, by far, the most pain I have been in after a half marathon! I guess not too surprisingly.
Despite this third failure our fundraising efforts once again provide the silver lining. 22 people donated a total of £332.69 to the African Palliative Care Association (You can still donate to this exceptionally good cause by clicking here).
So thank you to each and every one of you who donated!
And there it is, my running career, how I am slowly becoming a ‘specialist in failure’ and a few hints and tips on how not to prepare for an run a half marathon!
The only question remaining is…have I got one more in me? Will I manage to run a half marathon, sober, fit and well prepared?