To celebrate the start of Feet Up February, Rob and I entered a half marathon (each) and then proceeded to run precisely seven miles between the two of us. On the way to this feat of failure, we decided that whoever put in the worst performance would be entitled to the Tequila of Shame in the pub afterwards. I had already dropped my distance to 10k after finishing last week’s Brixton 10k feeling like a lame hippotamus in urgent need of euthanasia and wasn’t terribly hopeful about even managing 10k. Such was my optimism, I decided to break with traditional and don a t-shirt (my Brighton Marathon finishers t-shirt, just to prove I wasn’t a total flake) in case I ended up walking. Rob, meanwhile, decided to plunge ahead with the half as a “gentle paced training run” (because if you’re as fast as him you can do things like this and still finish in the top 50%, whereas I would still be out there when it got dark). The half marathon started half an hour before the 10k which meant if we both put in equally crap performances for our relative ability levels we would finish at about the same time. Whoever crossed the line last would earn the Tequila of Shame.
My strategy was to walk all the uphills since uphill running seems to be the thing that really sets my ankle off, but this was immediately awkward because the start of the race was on an uphill and lots of people were watching and I didn’t want to make a spectacle of myself, so I ran in a really awkward shuffly heel-down kind of manner until it levelled out. The course was through pleasant countryside, not as scenic as the Herts Half but certainly less challenging if not pancake flat. There was just one Massive Hill, which came about 3km for the 10k and about 5 miles (?) in for the half marathon, but I walked this as planned and didn’t seem to lose much ground on the people around me who were running – and I soon made up the lost time on the corresponding downhill.
By 5k I was feeling great and wishing I had gone ahead with the half. Between 6 and 7k I started to think actually maybe 10k was better because I was starting to slow down a bit. By 8k my toes were going a bit numb and my left bum cheek had developed a mind of its own. By 9k I’d had enough and wanted to go home. At 10k I wanted to give myself an award for Sensible Decision of the Year and was overjoyed not to have to run another centimetre. I think by 12k I would have been walking, by 15k I would have been crawling and by 21.1k I would have been on the back of an ambulance.
My finish time was 1:14:28 which was about five minutes faster than I was expecting. I’d totally expected Rob to sprint past me in the final metres (possibly walking faster than I was running) and felt quite relieved and smug, until I saw him waiting the other side of the finish line. I couldn’t believe he had overtaken me on the sly! Well, actually, it turns out he hadn’t because he had decided his hurty leg was too hurty for a half and dropped out after a mile and provided a cheer squad instead. I think it’s fairly obvious who earned the Tequila of Shame here.
On the whole I was quite encouraged by my performance. It was an exceedingly mediocre time but I was expecting a terrible time and mediocre seems brilliant when you are expecting terrible. I’m concentrating on recovering fully in time for next month’s Surrey Half – a PB is probably too much to hope for but a decent performance isn’t. I’m somewhat encouraged by the fact that I just looked up my time for the 2016 Winter Run (the race I ran a week before I got my half marathon PB) and found it was 1:14:29, a whole second slower than this run. Anything is possible. Unfortunately, that includes disaster, calamity and more Tequila of Shame.