Sunday, April 7, 2013

A Day Trip to Blackpool

"Oh I do like to be beside the seaside.." although I’ve never been in Blackpool at 8.15 on a Sunday morning in my life! The first shock was the 6.30 alarm – if the weather had been anything other than sunny and still I may have rethought my little jaunt to the coast. The second shock was the extortionate car park fee which I was totally unprepared for. I managed to scrape together the £5 then found out the machine didn’t take £2 coins! A kindly soul in the queue whom I got chatting to helped me out with that little quandary thereby contributing to keeping me out of full flight panic mode.

A short jog to the football ground (a good warm-up) to collect my number, then a mad dash to the loo before that queue hit Disneyworld proportions and I was all ready with half an hour to spare. I spent it wisely. A few minutes stretching, but more time spent chatting to the couple that had a 9 month old Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever… I know now I have to go to Norfolk if I want one… So the morning was educational as well as athletic..

I managed to get a "shout out" from the commentator with the microphone at the start for being an Eden Runner (see – doing my bit to promote the club!), then we were all set for the off. It’s the first time I’ve been to a race that had a 10 minute delay at the start due to a late running train.. One for the "experiences" list…

Down a couple of side streets where a few hardy souls had gotten up to cheer all the runners on (or were just getting back to their B+Bs from last night) and out onto the front. Two and a half miles along the road was the first U-turn, just prior to which I saw the welcome face of Mr Dave Peacock, just when I thought I was the only Eden Runner, so that made me feel less lonely! Past the North Pier and onto the Prom where the job of over-taking people began in earnest… (honest!)… The sea was flat calm and there was not much breeze to stir the still cool air. At about Mile 5 I fell in behind a "Portsmouth Jogger" although whether it was his posterior I was transfixed by or the sheer number of energy gel packets he had on his belt bouncing up and down I’m not too sure. Far too many for one man… he could have shared… The other energy gel bar packet of note was the one that the gentleman at Mile 6 stomped on in front of me – showering me with the stuff. I did ask if those gels worked by osmosis too and if I’d get any energy from that… who knows… Could be a whole new line of scientific research there.

I think the final u-turn was about Mile 8 which was a psychological relief, knowing that the countdown was on and that you were at least heading back in the right direction for the end. Going past the Marathon mile markers was a bit disconcerting though, thinking that half of the poor souls on the course would still have to do another loop. Seeing the string of people stretching out along the promenade and the road was impressive though and with about 3 miles to go and heading back into town the vocal support and the clapping members of the public began to increase, just when my resolve was starting to flag a little. Got past my bogey point of 11 ½ miles (The Dent Debacle) and oddly enough felt as though there were some reserves left to be had. My Portsmouth Jogger chaperone I think had peeled off to do the marathon route (so I’ll forgive him for his cornucopia of gel bars) and that almost gave me the incentive to push a bit harder. Why is it though, always the way, that when you think you’re approaching the finish you’re not?? You have that split second moment of thinking "I can see the start / finish line" before its replaced with the galling realisation that you’ve got another 600m to go in the other direction to suffer the humiliation of a "grandstand" finish behind the goalposts in front of an enthusiastic crowd? I resisted the temptation to wave at them… didn’t take much resisting… I think some of them had come to see the football in error…

I reached the table which was devoid of medals "There’s some more of the way!" said the slightly panicked marshall as the queue of folk waiting started to bunch up behind me – there was no way I was leaving that stadium without one – I needed the physical proof of my slog! The goodie bag was quite good too, containing choc-chip cookies, mini malt loaf AND a Mars bar, bottle of water and another plastic water bottle (to add to the growing collection!)

The bonus of the early start was getting home by 1pm to get showered and to get into the sunny back garden to write this. The weather was perfect for running, not too cold and not too hot – indeed it’s the first time this year any leg of mine above the knee has been exposed to the sunlight – the skin is that white I think the sunlight was just reflecting back off it! There was minimal breeze and minimal undulations in the route – I reckon I might even try that one again!

At the time of going to press the toenails are still with me….stubborn devils…

Race Review By Nicola Gaskell

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