Lots of morals in this tale.

In case you are in a hurry:

Moral one – unless you are fast, do not try to combine work and racing with no margin for error.

Moral two – if you are going to rescue an earthworm from the road, make sure your phone is secure before bending over.

Moral three – always try the door of a portaloo that hasn’t changed occupant for a long time, but don’t try it too hard, there may be a radioactive atom poised to kill a cat.

I had ordered up a treat for this weekend. Being hideously an embarrassingly poor at the moment (until the estate agents and solicitors and managing agents pull their fucking fingers out), I have not been able to race. I know I miss it a bit, but when I promised myself a £20 treat, it turned out that what I wanted most in the world was a race (not clothes, or music or books or even half a pair of new road shoes). So as I had to work in Kent in the afternoon, I thought I would do the Deal Half, I have done it once before in this incarnation and once when it was the Dover half a few more years ago; and it is a nice winter race.

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Coming up to the start

It is over an hour up the motorway from where I needed to be, but I did exactly the same thing about 3 years ago, and made it comfortably (checking back I clearly have rosy hindsight). However, I forgot that last time I was running 91/2 minute miles. At the moment in training I am running at 111/2 or so. Makes quite a difference over 13.1 miles. But, when I did the Path & Downs half in November I came in at 2.11, and it didn’t seem unreasonable that I might manage 2.10. But no. Sigh. The evidence is below…

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As you can see from my heart-rate, it was not for want of trying. I just had too many stinkers in there. Can’t remember what I was doing at mile 5, not a lot I guess. Mile 11 was the earthworm/phone incident, mile 12 I was going to die, turned out I didn’t in mile 13 though. Such is running.

The start is from a park which was made from the spoilheaps of the coal mines that closed ( or were closed) in the 80s. And they had set up a scattering of portaloos. A group of about 6 people congregated outside 2 portaloos at 10 (race started 10.30) and neither door opened. And still didn’t open. One showed green (unoccupied) and one red. The green was gently rattled but it didn’t open, no-one could remember seeing anyone go into either. A dilemma of a peculiarly English nature ensued; and we waited, chatting about the weather today, the weather during the week, the route of the race, whether the forecast for the whole day was good or just ok. After a while, one of the more fidgetty women went and yanked the green door and it opened. So the queue gradually emptied (sorry) itself into that loo. I have no idea about the red door, it will remain a mystery, as some things should. Was it an ill person? someone who just couldn’t face racing and was waiting for everyone to go away? was it stuck? Was there a cat in there tapping its claws,waiting to be poisoned by the possible release of radioactivity? We will never know.

However, if you are in the south of the UK, I can heartily recommend the race, Deal Tri are a lovely bunch, and the marshalls and other volunteers went out of their way (on a very cold day) to be kind and nice to every single runner. It made a big difference. So did the Value coke – my god what genius thought of that? Nectar of the gods when running (wouldn’t touch even Coke Coke (I am a DietCoke person) with a bargepole normally, but oh it was lovely.

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The weather was rather good really
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I am sure I took this exact picture the last time I did the race

So back to the story: I am an inveterate rescuer of earthworms. I hate seeing them in the road or pavement, trying to cross something that they have no way of knowing is really big, scratchy, dry and dangerous. So if they are pickupable ( I saw one that was half mush, and decided I couldn’t help) I will pick them up and put them somewhere appropriate to a worm. And I saw a beautiful one on the road during a lovely downhill. It took me a while to brake and turn round to pick it up, and my phone flew out of my flip-belt ( bought at the London Marathon expo – ok but can be a bit of a pain, gives you an extra spare tyre too, not good for photos) and bounced on the tarmac several times. Luckily the very glassy Nexus 4, which already has a bit crack in, decided it was man enough for this and didn’t shatter. It is a little telling that I picked up the worm first, and then found the phone. Worms are nicer really.

So I got in late, had to hare up the motorway, always a bit stressful in Kent as there are so many lorries flowing from Dover and the tunnel, and police cars too it turns out. I decided to just get in the car and drive and change when I got there, all I managed in the car was to wipe the salt off my face ( I am the queen of salty-sweaters) with a baby-wipe. And I got there a minute before the whole thing kicked off. I had to go in (attending a horticultural lecture for the charity I work for, mainly ladies of retirement age) wearing my compression tights, a running skirt on top (the tights have a hole in a bad place), a sweaty sports bra (they never dry out), merino jumper and red hoody. During the talk the sweat soaked through to my hoody and was clearly visible in a bra shape on the hoody. I looked odd. Really odd. And they said nothing. Sometimes it is good to be English.

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