As I’ve battled against the ever present winds on all my training runs alongside the canal, one thought has kept me going – the chance of fine, or at least, non-windy, weather for the race itself. Unfortunately, as the day approached, the weather forecasts were rather less optimistic, giving warnings of snow and blizzards.
On the day itself, therefore, I opted to wrap up warm with my running jacket, and the charity t-shirt (unisex, and therefore rather too large), over the top. It turned out to be a wise move, and I was still rather envious of those with the foresight to bring hats and gloves also!
The run up to the race was pretty nervewracking. My training the last couple weeks hasn’t really gone according to plan, and neither had our trip down South, which we’d had to delay until Friday evening, only arriving in High Wycombe at 10pm. Still, finally the call came to assemble on the starting line, and I joined the group of similarly green t-shirt clad runners, ready (more or less) for the off.
The race was held at the Eton College’s rowing lake, and from the starting line at the head of the lake, the route took us round the back of the boathouse, and then around the lake twice. Whilst I was very quickly overtaken by a large number of people who very quickly streamed out along the lakeside, I was relieved to see a reasonable number of people drop into a walk, shortly after starting… a sight which only heightened my determination to complete the course at a run, however slow.
The weather, which had started out cold and grey, very quickly turned into the full winter conditions promised – a biting wind, and alternate snow and rain, which quickly soaked through my clothes – no fear of overheating on this run! Still, we battled on, with the welcome encouragement of the wardens along the route and, after completing the first lap, I was greeted by Mum and Dad, waiting outside the boathouse to cheer me on. Halfway through, and my legs were tiring, but I’d managed to keep up a steady pace so far.
The return leg up the lake was miserable – the snow and wind hit in full force, and approaching the 7km mark I was reaching the furthest distance I’d covered in my training runs… now came the test, could I really keep going for another, as yet uncharted, 3km? As I neared the far end of the lake, I began to realise that I really could achieve this – a little further, and I’d be on the homeward stretch. Plodding onwards, still not slacking in pace, though lifting my sodden wet legs was beginning to feel like quite an effort, I continued.. pacing a girl in a purple top who was alternately walking and running. First I’d overtake her, then she’d overtake me again!
Finally, the 9km marker, and the boathouse was beginning to fill my sight. New strength in my legs as I could finally see the finishing line. Waving at Mum and Dad sapped nearly all my remaining strength. As I aproached the finish line, I heard the commentator call out “here comes number 192, Natasha Hadfield”, spurring me on for the final stretch over the finishing mat, with the accompanying squeal of the timing machine as it registered the chip, fastened to my ankle.
My final time – 1:06:54 according to the chip, 1:07:17 from the starter’s gun… not record-shattering by a long shot, but I was nonetheless pleased.