March got off to a bang with a couple of good days of pain free training ahead of my first ever 20 mile event, which was the superbly friendly and excellently well stocked goody bag-ed Thames Riverside 20 organised by the Clapham Chasers. The conditions, organisation, and marshalling of this event were all brilliant, which was a good thing because had it been otherwise it would have made this 3 hour 51 minute slog a lot less bearable. Our club considers itself to be a friendly one, but the Chasers gave us a run for our money here. The route is out and back down the Thames towpath, and every speedy Chaser who zoomed past on their return leg gave a cheery wave and a ‘well done’ to those of us at the back.
I also had some great company, falling in almost immediately with a lady who it turned out was also training for Rome! As she wasn’t an Eagle, I immediately swore her to secrecy, confessed my dirty little secret, and picked her brains about what to expect. I finished the run very stiff, in a bit of pain, but reassured that the famed Roman cobbles wouldn’t be as punishing as another run on a bloody English towpath.
A week later I dropped 13 minutes off my Riverside time at the Surrey Spitfire 20 (another highly recommended race), and it felt amazing. I felt like my strength was on its way back and I had surprised myself with how much I enjoyed this second go at such a ridiculously long distance, not to mention all the MAMIL’s I overtook who had gone out too fast. Like Aesop’s tortoise I may be slow, but I get the job done! Maybe the marathon wasn’t completely insurmountable after all…
People were seriously starting to ask questions now. Mostly ‘why are you running 20 milers on consecutive weekends if you’re not training for a marathon’. Our club chair was definitely sniffing around the truth; from comments such as ‘I know your game Missy’ at Wednesday club run I was sure she was expecting me to pop up unannounced at Manchester. Several others were also regularly questioning my sanity. I had no sensible response to make, and was terrified of the possibility that someone’s Manchester place would come up for grabs and I’d have no excuse but the truth! I once read an article that claimed to tell you what your ideal job would be based on your horoscope. If nothing else this whole situation was certainly proving astrology to be utter nonsense; apparently Scorpios make excellent spies, but it was becoming clear I’m just not cut out for this sort of deception. I started to wonder whether I should just come clean.
But I headed into the taper still mired in subterfuge, determined to enjoy the cut in mileage and the extra time for physio exercises now the business end of training was behind me. A spectacular mid club run fall with three weeks to go leaving me with a grazed multi-coloured knee wasn’t exactly part of the plan, but you can’t stick completely to schedule for these things can you?!