Well, I completed the Marabastard but it wasn’t all plain sailing. It took me 2 hours 34 minutes, which was way over my target and disappointing, but I wasn’t in the best state… I had three days off work immediately prior to race day. Stinking headache, a cough and lots of snot. I was feeling much better by the Saturday night but even on the Sunday morning of the race I was considering just going to watch.
Once I got there and met the rest of the gang, I started to think that I’d have a go and take it very easy. I mean I could just pull-out mid course if I felt really unwell. I was well fed and well hydrated but I was very aware of not being strong.
Then Robs family turned up, at this point I knew I was definitely running and the idea of not finishing went out of the window completely. Just take it easy and get round became the aim.
Come 1PM I felt happy enough and off I went repeating “run your own race” as hundreds of people, short, fat, tall, thin, old and young all ran past me up the straight.
I ran slowly, really slowly and decided not to look at my phone to check the timings in case I got disheartened. The miles ticked by.
As you can see below, despite thinking I was running slowly, for the first six miles, I was hitting 10min/mile which was something unbelievable three months ago, never mind coming off the back of a bad cold. I genuinely believe I could have kept this up.
At the six mile mark I was impressed with myself, amazed that I still felt like carrying on. I was proud that all the hard work I’d put in on hilly-training and running the Valley Challenge off-road race the week before was carrying me round.
I even overtook some people on the uphills, it was a real shock to me that I wasn’t dying. This was me, Paul Fletcher, the non-sportsman and hater of all things running (and all runners!).
Then disaster struck. Somewhere not long after this six mile marker, where the ground goes flat for nearly a mile, my knee gave way and that was the end of it. I knew immediately I would not be running any further.
As you will see from the graphs, the 10 minute miles I didn’t know that I had been putting in, fell right off as I hobbled, ran, walked, stopped, stretched, ran and finally limped my way round the rest of the course.
I was so disappointed not to be able to do myself and my sponsors proud. I was actually a bit angry.
I don’t feel like this now, because I have the benefit on hindsight. There truly were points in the race where I thought I wouldn’t even be able to walk it round. Looking back I know that I did my best, but at the time… I was really mad but the donations made in Robs memory made me keep going.
Shall I tell you what didn’t keep me going? The spectators at the side of the course. Infuriating.
I’m not talking about families that come out to support each other I’m pointing this rant squarely at the morons that clap anyone and anything that’s coming past like groups of gormless seals. The ones “making a day of it” with their picnics. Poke it!
“Come on you’re doing really well” they’d yell at me as I literally hobbled past wincing. Patronising bastards, I was clearly not doing well and I didn’t want them to pretend otherwise.
I just found them so blisteringly cheerful, they were not in the least inspiring. I can’t be the only person who found the crowd a massive hindrance. Perhaps if I had been running well, it might have been different, but they only served to darken my mood.
One smart-arse had the gall to yell “you’re nearly half way” at just over five miles. What a prick, I actually found myself telling him to “fuck off” under my breath which may have been louder than I thought because a runner in front of me guffawed like he was in a cartoon and temporarily lost his footing.
Anyhow, back to reality. A big big thank-you to my sponsors who made me embark on this journey into a frankly ridiculous sport, you helped the team that I was a part of raise £9,179 for Woking hospice. NINE GRAND.
A phenomenal sum that will go quite a lot further than 13.1 miles and help way more people than any of my rants about frankly harmless spectators ever will.
I’m sure Rob would be pleased if he were still alive, and I’m certain he would be laughing at all of us clowns for forcing ourselves round a half marathon for him. Peace Rob.
I will actually continue running once my knee has healed. An obvious side-benefit to all this excercise which I strangely hadn’t considered is that I am much fitter and slimmer - a bigger sex-machine than ever.
Will I do another half marathon?
Not a chance. This one was for you Kinsey! It was officially my last!