Saturday, 19 May 2012

White Peak (Matlock) Half Marathon

This is the half version of the full marathon I did last year. It's such a nice course, and t'eldest had shown a bit of interest in running recently, that we decided in January to do the half marathon together, give her something to aim at and all that. I've been a really good dad, not interfering in her training, not getting on her case about the number of runs she's been doing (or, ahem, not).

And so the day dawned, and it dawned darned cold and wet. The wet let up on the drive across to Matlock, but dear Lord, the temperature - admittedly it was the Cat & Fiddle road we had to drive up to get across to Derbyshire, but 3c??!! In May? It was only 6c when we parked up, registered and stripped off. When can I move to the south of France? Ah yes, when the € has collapsed and I can buy a shack in the hills behind Nice for the price of ripe Brie. 

Back in the real world we took the coach to the start in the middle of somewhere along the High Peak Trail, and a couple of minutes past 11 we were off, down a puddle-strewn gravel and cinder path. In the clouds. Brrrr. But then, disaster!! Within half a mile of the start, Georgina disappeared from my side. I stopped, went back; she was stopped, stretching her right leg. Cramp she reckoned. Not a chance, said I, this soon in. I forced painkillers, gels and water down here, but things didn't improve. She was managing to jog about 400 metres, before she had to walk for 150 or so, which seemed to ease the pain enough for her to run the next 400. This was not rapid progress. We carried on in this vein for the first 3 miles, which took 40 minutes.

By then, we were stressing each other out. Her to me, because I loathe and detest changes of pace, and the walking was driving me nuts. I was prepared to run slowly, but not to walk, and even stop at times. Me to her, partly because she could sense my frustration, and partly out of guilt. After those 3 miles, we established that first, she'd finish, even if it took her 3 hours, and second, it was going to be better for both of us if we went our separate ways. We were rank last in the field at this point.

But I was seized by a mighty anger, and as I left her the mountains of frustration came pouring out. All of a sudden, I was Lance Armstrong in the 2003 Tour de France on the way to stage victory after being brought down by a spectator. Er, perhaps not, I didn't win my race. But I did run the 10 a bit miles to the finish in 1 hour 12 minutes, spectacularly fast my my standards. I tore through the field, not bothering to eat or drink anything. Crazy. I crossed the line in 1 hour 50 minutes, pretty respectable, but what could it have been but for those first 3 miles? 1 hour 35 perhaps, who knows. It might have been crazy, but it was a lot of fun - nothing hurt for the first time in ages, but that could just have been the masking effects of adrenalin.

After collecting my fabulous commemorative mug (mustard yellow being this year's colour of choice), popping on a fleece and collecting a camera, I decided to hike back up the route to meet George. Truth be told, I was expecting it to be a fairly long hike, but bless her, less than a mile back up the route there she was. I jogged back with her, accelerating only to get to the finish line in time to get some decent photos. Given that she a) had her thigh pain, b) had a stinking cold, and c) it's her (squeamish look away know) lady's time, and d) was her first half marathon, getting in under the 2 hr 30 mark was good going. She already wants to do it again next year. Which is a pity, because it'll be about the same time her Finals will be starting at Bath Uni. 

So, today wasn't quite as I intended. I'd sworn we'd stay together (certain readers will be sighing in resignation; "yes, yes, you always say that"). I'd thought that one of my ailments would cause pain. (They may yet; a 35 minute session on the bike trainer on Thursday made the hip feel quite spiky and uncomfortable for 24 hours after). But it was still a blast. There's something about an event, sharing an endeavour with other folk, that just makes it better, somehow. I'd love to say it's the comradeship, the sense of overcoming a challenge together, or perhaps seeing others battle the odds (a 79 year old, a guy who had open heart surgery 6 months ago). But it's not - it's the mustard yellow mug. The one that says: "I did that".


  1. Congratulations to your daughter on triumphing over your huge ego.

    Is it the self-obsession that drives the introspection or the realisation that you're not very good?

  2. Thanks for that constructive contribution. Gotta love a troll.


Tweets by @skinsalive