This time last year…

One very wet husband.

One very wet husband.

I’m a big fan of my training diary. I love looking back over past years, seeing what I ran and where and how it felt. My diary has been a little bland during Qatar’s summer reading something along the lines of: ‘Ran 10km, too hot, nearly died, felt dodgy, spent the rest of the day recovering.’ Okay so it’s probably not quite as bad as that, but it’s not far off.

This time last year though, hubby and I were running the New Forest half marathon. We can’t really race more than a half at this time of year due to our inability to train long miles in the heat.

The New Forest was timed alongside a family visit to the UK, flying in on the Friday before the Sunday’s event. This means leaving just past midnight on the Thursday, waiting in Schipol airport for a couple of hours, and then hopping over to the UK.

Of course it’s always going to be cooler in the UK, but it never fails to take the breath away when the plane doors open. There’s a sharp intake of slightly damp, cold air on the chest that we never experience in the desert. Hurrying into the warmth of the airport, I didn’t realise that hubby had been stopped at the border. Being a GB expatriate in the Middle East raised a few questions with immigration. They don’t quite get the residency permit idea and it confuses them when Brits haven’t been ‘home’ for over a year. All clear and convinced that he hadn’t been causing trouble, we hit the road in search of our B&B.

Managing not to get distracted by Tescos –  yes, large comprehensive supermarkets are a big draw for the homecoming expat (It’s like being a kid in a candy store seeing all the items you want in stock, in one place, at the same time.) – we found our accommodation. Leaving the car we walked into the nearby town for tea and cake – again a massive novelty.

Of course, we were going to have a full English breakfast on the Saturday before race day. Pork products are well and truly off the everyday list, so despite the race we couldn’t resist. I did however manage to go out for a short couple of mile trot before. I love feeling the soft ground, damp grass, and mud on the soles of my runners. The autumnal smells tickling my nostrils, it’s simply amazing.

After a day at the New Forest Festival, trying to make up for a sinful breakfast by sampling veg-based smoothies, we were ready for a pre-race carb load. I don’t do pasta, risotto is king for me. It’s a personal thing but I really need my rice the night before a gallop.

So far, so good. We hunkered down for an early night after a pleasant day strolling around in the delights of the New Forest under glorious autumnal sunshine. How things change… race day dawned wet and windy. Remember, we hadn’t seen rain for six months, let alone run in it.

Arriving at race HQ we huddled in our bin bags, scarves, hats, gloves, long running tights awaiting the start. It was bad. Shivering we embarked on a short warm up before lining up, still clad in layers of clothes. The gun fired and we were off. Hubby shot off (he always does) and I trotted out, head down, shoulders hunched against the rain. It was lashing down. I could feel the rain running down my neck and dripping off my cap within the first couple of miles. The layers were not coming off.

Fellow runners splashed along in skimpy singlets, but I was not taking my waterproof off. I overtook, hubby at about six miles, a hill if I recall correctly. He doesn’t do uphill. Plugging away, I reached the marathon turn off, surprisingly pleased not to be doing the long course today, I headed for home.

Utterly soaked, the last mile was tough, as the wind blew me back. This was supposed to be a PB race. I’d been incarcerating myself in the heat of the desert to put in an award winning performance…and it was by about 2 seconds. I’m still not sure it was worth getting so wet for though!


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