Sometimes we get into a slump in our training where we cannot face what has become a chore. We need something to get us going again. Some need a kick up the bum, some need the reassurance that they can still run, and some just need a bit of Womble bling. That’s how it was with my friend Tashy who ran a fantastic 4:17 time at the Paris marathon. After taking a few weeks off she was finding it difficult to get motivated again. It was good that she had signed up for the Wimbledon half to get her going, and even better that despite almost no training she turned up to race.
We had decided along with our friend Kirsty that this race was a Womble medal, there was nothing serious about this, no time to aim for, no pacing plan, no pressure of any kind. The whole day was a glorified runners day trip, and the icing on the cake was the birthday of Jo F Wise. We made our way to race hq where we were greeted by friends old and new, and ……… donuts! It pretty much set the tone for the lightweight nature of the day.
We set off under the start arch, feet chipped and brimming with good birthday Womble cheer. As we climbed the first mile and a half of hills there was much singing, a chorus of ‘Mud mud glorious mud’ in honour of the puddles, accompanied by laughter and the odd Happy Birthday thrown in Jo’s direction. There was no doubt that this run was not one to worry about, the whole event was an antidote and cure for racing nerves, and worries about capability. A riot of runners noisily meandering round the paths of one of Londons great commons. As we continued down Parkside and past the papal embassy this gathering of happy runners began to spread out. By the time we reached the windmill Tash and I had settled down to a comfortable pace a little in front, and faster than the main birthday celebration.
Tashy was looking strong and relaxed, as she admitted that the furthest she had run since Paris was 5 miles. As we ran we came across a running club friend Fiona. All three of us bowled down the hill that marked the end of the first lap. We knew that the whole course from there was entirely manageable if not pleasant. Suddenly there at the bottom of the hill was a Womble and the run was complete, for the first time since we crossed the line we stopped, whipped out the phone and took an obligatory selfie! Fortified with Womble goodness we started back up the hill that we had started out on.
The banter continued and we really were having a good time. It was observed that we had passed the 5 mile mark some way back and were still going strong, Fiona had dropped back behind us. The demons were pretty much put to bed and we were counting the miles to the end. As we reached the top of the hill we could hear a runner making their way noisily through the field. He drew up alongside us and we made the fatal mistake and responded. His opening gambit was ‘I started at the back and have been working up talking to people as I go. If they don’t want to talk I move on’. It made me wonder, everybody he had met so far was not interested in talking to him. It took us about a minute to discover why so we slowed down to let him pass. I am only half embarrassed to say that we reverted to teenagers and exhibited a full range of rude gestures behind his back. Enjoying the moment, the rest of the race became more of a challenge not to run too fast and catch him up.
By the time we reached the end 2 tired and happy runners came laughing over the final line in a time somewhere around 2:17. Not great, but it did not matter, this run wasn’t about time it was about something that we sometimes forget. At the level most of us are at, running is a hobby. I will probably never win anything, I may not ever get a good for age, so there has to be other reasons for dragging myself round 13.1 miles. I admit sometimes I run to challenge myself and look for a PB, but this Wimbledon run was not one of those times. This half had 2 objectives, the first was to reassure a great running friend that she could still run a reasonable distance. The second was to have fun, and that we had in bucket loads.