Southampton marathon

5 May 2019

After months of training, hundreds of miles run in all weathers, nutrition plans, hydration plans and lots more, Southampton marathon day had arrived. Commando, Rob and Mark had all run marathons before but this one was meant to be special, not least because it was in their home city. The training had gone well, they were all set for a record breaking run. Well they were until the bike ride in the last two weeks, during their tapering.

In hindsight, going for a ‘nice easy’ bike ride with Mr G, who is a cycling legend, was probably not the best of ideas. Mr G doesn’t know the meaning of nice and easy. There were lots of miles and lots of hills. Male pride meant they tried to keep up. They came home broken. Even a sports massage from the amazing Paul Bartlett at The Running School didn’t fix things completely. This race would be run on determination, with teeth gutted against pain.

At least the weather was nice, although it looked like it might turn out to be a bit too warm for running 26.2 miles. Commando and Rob’s new running group, Hamwic Harriers, looked marvellous in their new shirts. Some were pacing, which is what Commando and Rob usually do, some were running the 10k, some the half marathon and a few the full marathon. As usual, not everyone made it to the team photo. There is always one!

With the team photoshoot of the way, we hung around in the VIP changing room for a while. All the pacers were there and Sammy Saint, (A.K.A Matt Dennis) the Saints mascot who was running the 10k. The amazing Saints legend Francis Benali was in the room next door getting ready for the final marathon of his seven iron man’s in seven days to raise money for cancer research. We saw him and his family but didn’t disturb them. The last thing he needed was people asking for his autograph or wanting a photo at this stage. Knowing Franny, he’d have been all too obliging but he needed all the rest he could get.

Other than the team photo, I had one really important job to do. I was in charge of Commando’s own mini water station just before the end of the first lap on London Road. There were two small bottles of water in my rucksack ready to swap for the ones in his water belt. When the runners had all headed off to the start pen I was left with quite a bit of time on my hands.

On a normal marathon day I’d have some kind of planned walk, a kind of whistle stop tour of the city. As this city was Southampton though, and I could see it any day uncluttered by thousands of runners, I just wandered through the crowds. With so many people watching, there was no chance of seeing Commando cross the start line, although I did see Kim and Vicky, the half marathon tailwalkers, waiting to set off.

There was a bit of strolling through the parks, a coffee stop in the London Road Starbucks and lots of chatting to friends, marshalling this part of the route. It seemed no time at all before the first runner came zooming past. After that I had to be on my toes trying to spot the Hamwic Harriers and keeping an eye out for Commando.

Steve and Ian, both pacers for the half marathon, were the first Harriers I saw. Not far behind them was Rob, looking set for the time he wanted despite still being broken from the bike ride.

Next up was pacer Luis, closely followed by Helen and Andy. Then there was Arron, heading for the 10k finish line and Sean at the end of his half marathon.

It was something of a relief to see Commando and Mark, not least because I could finally get rid of the water bottles. They were bang on their target time for the first half which was quite a surprise given that Commando had been limping from the outset. Unfortunately, the water bottle exchange meant I didn’t get any good photos of them.

After that there was a lot more waiting around, a coffee with my friend Kylie and some chatting until the next Harriers appeared. As it happened, Ian was the first I spotted heading for the marathon finish. He’d run the first lap as a pacer, then quickly changed into his Harriers shirt to run the second half alone and earn his marathon finisher’s medal. Only Ian could get away with such shenanigans, but race organiser Nikki Rees had agreed to it so he did get his medal.

Not long after Kate and Ian, the Harriers cheer squad, came past with their bikes, I spotted Rob heading for the finish line with Massi. The second half of his race hadn’t gone nearly as well as the first but he’d finished, even if he didn’t get a PB.

Although I didn’t know it at the time, Commando and Mark were still on their second pass of the Itchen Bridge at this point and not enjoying themselves in the slightest, even if they were waving for the cameras.

Once I’d seen Rob come past I headed down to Above Bar, hoping I’d get to see Commando cross the finish line. Helen and Andy came past, then Kim and Vicky, but there was no sign of Commando or Mark.

Pretty soon there was a little crowd of us waiting for Commando and Mark. Rob had got changed and joined me, along with Ian and Kim and a few other Harriers. Of course, as time went past I started to worry. He’d finished the first half so well, despite being injured, I began to imagine all sorts of horrible things. It was now clear a PB was out of the question, but I was getting worried about him finishing at all.

Eventually, just as my panic was rising to maximum level, Commando and Mark limped across the finish line. They were smiling, but that was mainly because they could finally stop running.

Later, in the VIP changing room, Commando told me the second pass of the Itchen Bridge had been where the wheels fell off his race. His hip had been hurting on and off since the bike ride, now it finally gave out. He kept going and, to his great credit, Mark stayed with him and gave up his chance for a good time, The rest of the race was a painful run walk affair, made worse by knowing this would be the slowest marathon ever. Most people would have given up but, of course, Commando is made of sterner stuff.

It had been a very long, painful day but there was still one thing left to do. Rob and Kim’s granddaughter, Emilia, was entered into the children’s mile race. Sammy Saint was there, victorious after running the 10k and the mascots race and still looking full of energy. Rob looked less than enthusiastic about running another mile but Emilia had enough energy for both of them.

It had been a long, tough day for two slightly broken runners. The only records they’d broken in the end were for their personal worst marathon times. On the long limp back up the Avenue to our car Rob and Commando both agreed this would be their last marathon. Of course, I’ve heard that before so I’m not entirely sure I believe them…

Please see my copyright information before you copy or use any of the above words or pictures. If you’re worried about privacy or data protection, please see my privacy policy here.

Change of plan

26 July 2018

This morning I had my third appointment at the Running School. To be honest, after the camping and travelling I wasn’t feeling the love. Neither was I entirely convinced I’d get through it. What I really should have been doing, once I got home, was resting and stretching, with maybe a little bit of practicing the glute bridges, twisting stretches and the like. There’d been barely any time for all that though. What with the unpacking, washing, shopping, Old Cemetery visiting, picture taking at the mile race, editing and posting said photos, trying to catch up with the newsletter writing, blah, blah, blah, I’d barely had time to blink.

Continue reading Change of plan

Setting up camp at Thunder Run

20 July 2018

Frankly, a three hour drive to Walton on Trent was probably not the best thing for my back. Two or so hours in, when we reached Warwick Services, I could barely get out of the car. There was some hobbling around, a loo stop, some much needed food and coffee and then it was back to the car for another interminable, painful hour. At least there was a hotel at the end of it and a chance to walk around, albeit like an old lady who’s lost her walking frame. No photos were taken, apart from one of the hotel door so I’d remember the number when I came back from my hobbling. All this, was yesterday and it was just the precursor to Thunder Run, a twenty four hour endurance race. As far as I could see, at that point, I’d already endured quite enough and it hadn’t even begun yet.  Continue reading Setting up camp at Thunder Run

The Running School and beyond

10 July 2018

My nerves about the Running School were based on Commando’s reports of his sessions there. Each time he’d come home drenched in sweat and filled with tales of something that sounded very much like torture. For someone who has spent her whole life avoiding any kind or organised exercise this was not a welcome prospect. If it stopped my back and leg hurting it might be worth it but that didn’t mean I was going to enjoy it.  Continue reading The Running School and beyond

Hobbling to The Running School

10 July 2018

The back thing did not disappear as unexpectedly as it came. It dragged on and on… For the last three weeks the pain has been more or less incapacitating. It’s worse when I stand still or sit down, sleeping is also a bit of an issue, as is walking, bending, more or less everything really. So  I’ve been hobbling around with a horrible pain in my right leg, hip and back and a trio of numb toes. Needless to say, there hasn’t been much real walking going on apart from the odd limp up to the village and back. Continue reading Hobbling to The Running School

Parkrun tourism, Lakeside

30 June 2018

There was no parkrun on the Common this morning because the Pretty Muddy Race For Life 10k was going on. This meant it was time for some parkrun tourism. With so many parkruns within a few miles of home we were spoilt for choice but, when Teresa and Gerry said they were going to Lakeside in Portsmouth, we decided to tag along too as we haven’t been to the parkrun there before. Continue reading Parkrun tourism, Lakeside

Let’s go to Huntsville

11 May 2017

My twisted body clock woke me at quarter to five this morning. It was quarter to two in Vancouver and quarter to ten in England so goodness only knows what time zone my brain was in. The merest hint of pink was just beginning to show above the tree line outside. I took a quick photo and then tried to go back to sleep. Half an hour later I gave up. My body was determined it was morning so I might as well listen. The sky was a little lighter now, the line of pink rising up to meet the midnight blue sky.  Continue reading Let’s go to Huntsville

A little tour of Muskoka

10 May 2017

After a wonderful week in Vancouver we’d had a nightmare forty eight hours. When I woke at five fifteen this morning though, the view from my window chased the nightmare away immediately. A peachy glow lit the sky above the pines on the opposite side of Gull Lake, fading to a deep midnight blue. The trees outside our window were silhouetted against the glorious pre dawn sky and the lake gently rippled by the breeze. Commando was still sleeping but I sneaked out of bed and took a photo through the window then I lay watching the sun slowly rise. After a while I pulled on a jumper and crept out onto the balcony. Sometimes jet lag has its advantages and waking to watch the sun come up is up is one of them. Continue reading A little tour of Muskoka

Travel, Toronto and a comedy of errors

9 May 2017

Today was mostly taken up with travelling. This morning Commando woke with swollen and painful hands and a feverish feeling. His leg was still hurting but with the help of the Tylenol, he was able to walk. It seemed to me to be the work of some kind of virus rather than anything to do with the trip in Stanley Park. He limped down to Starbucks for a breakfast of croissant and yogurt parfait. Later we took a taxi to the airport where we sat around waiting for our flight. All the while I was keeping a rather nervous eye on him. He hobbled onto the plane. Five hours later he hobbled back off again. Along the way we’d lost three hours to the time change but at least we hadn’t lost our luggage. We were back to the disoriented jet lag thing again though.  Continue reading Travel, Toronto and a comedy of errors

The Lost lagoon

4 May 2017

Back where we started, at the beginning of the Cathedral trail, we turned towards the Lost Lagoon. The name alone made it worth a look. It conjured images of desert islands and palm trees, although I was fairly sure this wasn’t what we would find. Somewhere off the trail we could hear the thrum of a woodpecker pecking at a tree. We stopped and peered into the forest but saw nothing but a few tell tale holes in trunks. Continue reading The Lost lagoon