I bought entry to this marathon for Gemma as a birthday present. What more would a girl want on her birthday than the opportunity to run 26 miles?
Because it was her birthday it meant we had to go for dinner in some posh place that feels like eating in a library. Everyone is quiet and you feel bad for making noise as you try to sneak small lumps of food in your mouth and pretend not to have noticed the "please do not eat food in our clean restaurant" signs.
And for some reason I was getting really annoyed by a woman at the table next to us who had 3 glasses of wine poured and for the hour that I was (secretly but intensly) watching her she didn't drink a sip at all, she just swirled one around a bit and sniffed it. Now correct me if I'm wrong but since the whole wine "thing" has been debunked as snobbery (see this study on blind tasting) the whole purpose of drinking it is to get pissed.
In between mouthfuls of whatever it was I had (Rabbit stuffed with fish, wrapped in bacon and including the liver of an unspecified animal. Funny how whenever I eat a combination of 4 different and often unspecified animals in the form of a doner kebab I get accused of being unsophisticated) veins in my head were about to pop at the sight and nausiating sound of this woman.
She had an awful nasal voice which was probably banging on about wine (ie talking bullshit). You can attach snobby words to anything and say "this has a lovely tinge of medeteranian oakiness with an aftertaste of rustic bohemia which would suit a meal consisting of sauteed rodent and things that are purple". Idea for Dragons Den, create an engine oil that when you put it in the car it "harmonises" your whole car such that it even makes the radio play better music. You could test it and people would say that it works because there are enough idiots out there to make such hypotheses statistically significant.
My temptation was to bang my fists on her table and yell "Drink the F****G wine you annoying cow". But I know better than to yell obsenities at a stranger.
Anyhoo, running. For a moment I forgot what this blog was about. Actually it is running and "stuff". That was some stuff. I'll try not to do it often.
This was the first running of the Richmond Park Marathon. Richmond Park is the largest of the London parks and is a regular training route for Serpies and other runners alike. You'd often see (if I ever came out here) elite runners and baby joggers making use of the convenient 7.2 miles of nice trail around the outside. A nice local marathon for the people of London.
There were about 300 entries, probably 250 starters and British Military Fitness were involved in doing the warm up similar to that done by scantily clad aerobics instructors at mass 10k races. The start was in waves to stop crowding and I was in the first (so called fast) wave starting at 9.30.
The race consisted of a small lap of 4.5 miles then 3 big laps of 7.2 miles. I settled into a nice comfy pace with Mark Cockbain, Allan Rumbles and Daniel (Gritts) aiming to chugg around in about 3.45. We spent the first lap trying to convince Allan that he should not retire from running after the Spartathlon this year. After the first short lap I pulled ahead a bit, maintaining the pace as the others slowed a bit. Not long later Dan caught up with me and we ran the rest of it together.
Each lap contained 2 things that some people call slight inclines, others call hills and others will call "f****g great big mother-f****g b****d hills". I think some people entered this thinking as it's within the M25 it should be flat. It almost is save for these 2 things each lap. They were a welcome break from flat running as my bones were aching a bit from not much rest in the past 2 weeks. I've done 100+ mile weeks back to back before this which is a great confidence boost for being over my operation but makes my legs sore.
The second lap felt the hardest but it was great having Gritts around to chat to and to keep me going at a reasonable pace. We managed to go wrong and up an extra hill that we were not supposed to do. At the top of the hill and with people still telling us we were doing really well we looked down at lots of runners who were behind us who were running along the path at the bottom. Hoping we could just stay at the top and run across we followed parallel but had to go down and meet them to get back up again.
On completing the second lap I saw Gus standing there with a beer in his hand, having obviously dropped out of the race. I yelled at him "F****G hell Gus get back into the race". I did not realise just how loud I was shouting or that only 2 feet away from me there was a little girl holding out water for me. I felt so bad and embarrased about my obcenities and said sorry quite a lot as everyone else laughed. That poor girl. "Mummy why was that man so angry at me?", "I don't know dear but we are never coming here again to give these people water".
I think I was still angry about that woman who just wouldn't drink any wine.
I ran the last map feeling much better and saw the awesome Tyre Girl pulling her large tyre along the whole race. Tempting though it was to say "you look tyred" I resisted. She had started earlier than us and still had a long way to go. Those hills would not have been easy dragging that thing along.
The last lap seemed to go much quicker than the others, sometimes the familiarity makes it go by faster. I met Monki off fetch who was looking quite knackered but very determined, the perfect way to be with a few miles to go in a marathon. Gritts and I finished in about 3.47 and I discovered it had been a great day for the Serpies. Nick Copas had won the race in 2.58 and Jen Bradley had won the womens race in 3.28, fantastic times on a challenging course. I spent some time catching up with people and assisitng the guy on the loud speaker with info about the serpies who were finishing.
This is Gemma and it's her birthday today and her 25th marathon
Here are Pam and Martin and they are Serpies despite trying to hide it
This bright green blob is Jany Tsai and she is going to smash the canal run in 2 weeks time
This is Alex. Yeah he always grins like that
We had a picnic later which quickly changed location to the pub. The Richmond Marathon was a great first time event and I really hope to do it again next year though I will insist on carb-loading for it in Subway the night before. None of this "what statement are you giving about yourself if you ask for extra gerkins" malarky, just eat the f****g sandwich. Simple.