Time was running out. I could practically HEAR the Countdown clock ticking down my seconds. It's like the running equivalent of the final conundrum. What words can you make out of O H S H I T Y O U R 5 0 M I L E R A C E I S 4 W E E K S A W A Y ?
The Thames Trot 50 mile race was nearly here and my longest run had been 15 miles. AND I had stopped halfway for some mulled wine. And that was 3 weeks ago. The run, not the wine. I've had wine since then.
However, I had done a Santa Run since then and that was 12 miles. Although we stopped at 5 pubs ... well 6 including going back to the first pub, so maybe that only counts for 5 x 2.4 mile runs? Although maybe all the mulled wine counted for a bit more because surely we were weaving a bit?
Anyhow, I needed a run. The longer the better.
I set out with dogged determination and my trusty trail shoes on my feet. The lanes had been flooded from the rain earlier in the week and the roads were still damp and dirty. Looking across the hedgerows to the church tower in the distance, I noticed 2 swans swimming serenely in the fields. There was still a lot of debris around but the water had started receding and as I drew closer to the village, I noticed a yellow speck at the side of the road.
I picked it up. A rubber duck.
It must have been floating down the river and as the Thames burst its banks, the duck must have sailed on and ended up in the middle of this country lane. Quite a long way from a bath tub.
I set it free on the Thames again and watched it bob away with the eddies of the river. Keep an eye out for it if you cross the Thames. Hopefully it will make it all the way to London. From the source of the Thames to the capital of the country.
The duck was a nice start to my run and I carried on with a spring in my step and a rumble in my tummy.
Hang on … what?
As anyone who runs will know tummy unhappiness on a long run is a BAD thing. It is also the reason that we carry loo roll on long runs. I was loo-roll-less. Luckily there was a pub in the next village. No one wants to have to search for big leaves while crossing their legs.
I sprinted into the pub. I imagine the regulars seated around the bar possibly saw a flash of neon, the smell of desperation and heard the pub doors swinging in my wake, but I reckon I may have managed a new 100m PB. Good going when you're clutching your stomach and groaning like a zombie.
Now Christmas food can be a terrible thing. Don’t get me wrong. It tastes delicious. But it creates MONSTERS. This is a public blog. I'm not going into any details. But you remember Mr Hanky the Christmas Poo from Southpark? This was his bigger scarier cousin. This was Mr. Handtowel.
And he was going NOWHERE.
I like to think I’m a courteous runner. I run on the pavements but always say “Hi!” and wave to other runners. I move aside for grannies and wave at small children. And I always, always stop if someone falls own in front of me at races.
Except this time I wasn’t a courteous runner. I was a cowardly runner. I was too ashamed to go back into the pub for a wire coat hanger. Instead I gave the loo one last desperate flush in hope and desperation. Then I ran away.
I managed to get a good distance away from the pub in a record time before slowing the pace somewhat. I'd been dreading the shouts – or screams – but all was silent and peaceful behind me.
OK. So far the run had been a bit eventful, but I could relax now. I'd released a rubber duck (NOT a euphemism), my stomach was a lot calmer and I had some nice miles in front of me. It was a beautiful – if slightly 'damp around the edges' day – and I was in the heart of rural Gloucestershire and ready to get some good miles in.
I ran through the lanes feeling happy, following the wooden signs marking the way to the Thames Path. The first section was down a tree lined lane. The leafless trees were beautiful against the blue sky and the cool wind made me appreciate the running. Through the gaps in the hedges I could see the gleam of water in the fields, but I could jump most of the puddles and the day was bright and beautiful. A good day to run.
However, the problems started when the lane turned into a track and the track took me into a field. A very soggy field.
First I was jumping over the puddles. Then the puddles joined up.
Fine. I could deal with this. Cross country running is MEANT to be a bit mushy and muddy, right? Although there wasn't much mud. The huge amounts of water seemed to have washed it all away.
First the water got over my feet. Then my ankles. When it started encroaching on my calves I made a decision. I couldn’t see a single bit of path ahead. All I could see was water. And ducks. Ducks shouldn’t’ be sharing your run route. And swimming.
Sigh. I turned around and headed for home.
Ok. So a long run just hadn't been on the cards, but I'd got out for a run on a lovely day, the sun was shining and I was running back to a MASSIVE tub of Quality Street with my name on it. AND there were still some strawberry cremes hiding at the bottom. I was sure of it. Thinking of the chocolates, I smiled and greeted a walker I passed, then BAM karma struck!
I got a canine clothesline.
The dog belonging to the the walker – who was actually a DOGwalker – appeared and decided I was looking far too happy for someone who had just violated an English pub – and decided to remedy this by swerving in front of me and taking my knees out. I was far too distracted by the thought of chocolate to save myself, but managed to catch the road with my elbows and palms rather than my teeth. Lucky really as missing teeth look RUBBISH in race pics.
The dog wandered off unconcerned and the dog walker checked I was ok. I was fine. Just shocked that karma had caught up with me quite as quickly as it had. I made a resolution there and then.
If things go wrong? Always ask for a wire coathanger.