So Friday night and I’m getting to know a nice bottle of Pinot Grigio and my brother-in-law phones to ask what am I doing Sunday morning. I review a shortlist of not very humourous quips and settle for the rather unadventurous “nothing – why?”. Turns out he’s sprained an ankle and did I want his Marlow half marathon pass?
Now when I did the London Marathon I did a 16 week assiduous training programme. God knows I needed it. When I did my first half marathon some months before I also spent a good amount of time working up through the miles. Little bit of speed work and regular long sunday jogs to gain stamina and endurance until the half mara distance feels comfortable.
24 hours notice to do a 13.1 mile race when I’ve been doing nothing but the odd 6 and a few 3-milers for two months meant I had to think this through. Yes, I could do the distance; but it would probably hurt, and there were hills around marlow (anyone done Henley Half? ooh! nice riverside run you think – all flat and lovely…until Fawley Hill – mental).
So of course I called back and said yes, I’ll take it.
Marlow is achingly upmarket so the streets were empty when I arrived, all the good people being tucked up in their mansions. Off at 9.30, towards Oxford past the excellent Royal Oak pub (recommended). The front 4.5 miles are all uphill but scenic, as you pass through autumnal woods. I went out slow in view of my condition and welcomed the top at 5m by which time I was passed by most of the pack and a Jack Russell.
Down to the valley floor again and flat till 8m when it’s uphill again – with a vengeance (I confess I walked for 100 yards or so – for the first time in any race ever!). This was a shorter hill but a beast nonethless, rewarded by a steady downhill back into the village for the last two miles where you can really open it up.
2h 8mins is far off my best (1:53) but with a slow start, a comfort stop, no training and those bloody hills I was reasonably happy with that but I’d like to have caught up with the Jack Russell.
Thanks to www.marlowstriders.co.uk for the video and who organised this event very well.