The next morning after a hearty breakfast we set off for the race. Race day weather was predicted to be warm and sunny and it was gorgeous even before the race began.
We set off pretty quickly and although it was initially downhill, I could tell I wasn't going to be able to keep up the pace for long. Elise and her Dad are both much faster than me so after a mile or two they disappeared into the distance. Emma and I tried to convince ourselves, "we might catch them up later" ... I'm sure you can figure out for yourselves how successful that was!
Emma took this photo of me disappearing into the distance, I think this was just before the first checkpoint. These were evenly spaced throughout the course. The first two checkpoints were in slightly odd locations (on the corner of a junction, with cars coming in multiple directions). The volunteers were helpful, filling up bottles for me and generally being cheerful and the homemade cake was much appreciated. However they didn't have any Coke, once we realised there wasn't going to be any at any of the checkpoints this obviously triggered a massive yearning!
The time was passing really quickly because Emma and I were chatting and sharing previous race stories - this is hands down my favourite thing to do during a race. Emma is running around as many islands as possible - which sounds like a fantastic idea. Since the race we've been chatting and we hope to do the epic Anglesey Ring O' Fire race together (after I've finished my counties). It's rare you meet someone in an ultra who matches your pace so well - I think she could've gone a bit quicker than me, but I'd just run 150km the previous weekend on Hadrian's Wall so maybe if I'd been a bit better rested we'd be even better matched. I feel certain we'll bump into each other again at some point as we've got much in common in our running 'history' (neither of us have done a hundred miler yet, but we've both done 50+ miles a few times).
My parents had kindly offered to come and cheer me on and I knew they would be somewhere around the halfway point. This picture was taken by my dad as we approached them across the golf course.
And here I am with my Mum and Dad (thanks to Emma for the photo!) My parents originally made the banner for my first marathon in Paris and I think this is the 5th time they've dragged it out of the loft now. Making it worth the effort! Apparently the golfers complained that my mum was making too much noise encouraging the other runners (!) and she was putting them off their swing. When I told Elise's dad about this later, he said, "It's not exactly the Open is it?" which cracked me up. My thoughts exactly!
We kept going. Elise's mum Julie had waited for us at checkpoint 3 which was lovely of her - she told us Elise and Dave were about half an hour ahead of us. We kept going some more. By checkpoint 4 it was getting even hotter. Because the route includes a loop, you could see checkpoint 5 (ten miles ahead) from the previous checkpoint, which was a little disheartening. By this point we'd also realised we weren't going to finish under 7 hours, though neither of us was particularly bothered.
I was starting to feel a bit tired at this point and hunted through my vest for anything nice to snack on. I didn't feel like eating but came across a couple of Caffeine Bullets so we had those. (They're sweets with caffeine in them - much more pleasant than gels and more practical mid-race than a cup of coffee). Emma told me that when she first heard about them she thought you put them up your bum and made some comment about not being that desperate. This completely killed me and I could hardly run from laughing, it's actually making me giggle again now thinking about it. It's totally believable because they're in these black/red wrappers and they're called BULLETS and !! oh my days!
The next day we were going out for a special birthday lunch with my mum, but then STUPID Liverpool FC had to go and ruin it by beating Spurs in the Champions League. This meant a STUPID victory parade, which meant I wouldn't be able to get anywhere near my flat at 5pm, which was the time I was planning to get home. I had no choice but to miss the lunch and leave early so I could go and rescue Iz from Lime Street and then barricade ourselves indoors. My food shopping delivery was cancelled, there were STUPID Koppites everywhere, I could still hear them even with the windows and curtains closed. If I ever hear that stupid Allez song ever again it will be too soon. COYB!