I want to record what happened on Sunday 27th January 2013. Something rather special happened to me and I think it is up there with all the other amazing milestones that have happened to me since I started running. I will do a brief history to the build up of the day first.
Debbie Cox and I first met in training for the Great South Run and as a small group of people we stayed in touch on facebook. Debbie took a break from running and then wanted to start again, Debbie asked if there were any local 10k races around and I replied with a couple of races and the offer to run with her on one of the races I had already entered. That was how Debbie and myself started on our training together helping each other to be motivated to get out and run, I needed this help as well having had a 4 month injury lay off it was hard to get back in to the routine especially as winter was approaching.
We have had some great training sessions together we have learnt each others habits we know when to talk when not to talk we have even run a whole session with music and no talking just running together, having someone with you is enough sometimes. I really love helping and passing on my experiences it gives me such a buzz, the fact I take a lot from Debbie as well makes it a great two way support structure.
The downside to this is me or more importantly my injuries (my calf's) I don't like to say enter this race and I will run it with you then not run, even if injured or not that's not me I don't like it. I have managed to learn and adapt and look for ways to still be a good running buddy and not just give up because I have an injury. The first time this happened was the Hursley 10k last year I had two friends running one in the 5k and Debbie in the 10k I was gutted at letting my friends down so I spoke with the race director and offered to be a marshall for the race which there were more than happy for me to do. Sadly I was not on the dual course section so missed my friends 5k but I had a great spot three quarters of the way up a hill.
It was so great to see Debbie running up that hill and give her support and encouragement at that point I knew I had done the right thing and was able to help not only Debbie but myself the other great thing was I was able to get to the finish before Debbie so could cheer her home to the finish line. I felt so proud to have done my little bit on that day to make a big difference. It showed me that I am a better person than I give myself credit for especially on my bad days when I feel worthless.
Sunday 27th January 2013 three weeks until race day and Debbie's first Half Marathon I had spoke to Debbie about a 12.3 mile run to Portchester and back I had done for last years half marathon, when I was not injured and running freely. Debbie looked at me as she sometimes does like I was from another planet after I had explained the route the benefits of doing the run the fact it would be the last long run before race day Debbie was looking forward to this run as I was. Alas my body let me down again. Again I have a plan that will hopefully work for both of us, I let Debbie know and she thinks its a great idea.
I dust off my old mountain bike get it ready I have my rucksack so that I can carry Debbie's drink's and gel's this is a dress rehearsal for race day to see what works what does not work how Debbie feels when taking a gel and how she feels after the gel if there is not a boost in the right way we need to know. Today is not about the run itself it about everything else, all the information we learn today will make the race so much easier. We all have fears and worries can we run that far, I'm scared about running that far, will I finish, what if something happens, how will I cope running a new coarse for the very first time etc.
Off we go the first thing to mention is the weather we had heavy rain and high winds during the night whatever the weather we were running race day could have the same weather being only three weeks away, thankfully the weather cleared we had blue skies strong gust of wind in our faces on the way out and at our backs on the way home perfect weather conditions the wind was a challenge but it was great to run in the sun.
This is Debbie's training run so when to walk in the run is Debbie's choice when to drink is Debbie's choice and the gels, we talked about as she ran it's not just about when you take the first gel but about distance you take them afterwards to see you through the race you never want to run out but neither do you want a long gap without one if you need one.
Riding a bike beside a runner was very surreal, of coarse I wanted to be running but this is the next best thing having seen films were you have the trainer wrapped up like a Michelin man with layers of clothes and the towel wrapped round the neck tickled my sense of humour and kept me amused. The first 6 miles was Debbie's comfort zone we chatted I checked that everything was good we even stopped for a loo break early on.
The reason for mentioning this is it happens on race day do you stop and queue up, there is always a queue or do you carry on for miles before another loo appears will it affect how you run, will it distract you etc The loo break is not something we normally need to think about on shorter runs.
We carry on I explain what part of the route is coming up to watch her feet on the grass and to take her time crossing the one major road we have to do, this happens pretty much all the way round Debbie also said we she wanted to listen to music (very polite way of saying shut up Darin!!!!)
Something different happened to our running relationship on this day in a good way, we had a laugh we were not only learning about the race day but we took the mickey out of each other. We have laughed before but not like today, it made the two and a half hours go so quick.
The best part of the run was around Portchester Castle and the sea wall which is a little narrow in places we have run round that part before in training for the GSR 2011 and I had run this route last year as well, because of the heavy rain this winter the ground was sodden with some puddles of water some large some small and the grass area's were like a thick muddy goo.
Watching Debbie tip toeing like a ballet dancer shouting out my new running shoes are getting muddy was priceless, I had my troubles trying to ride a bike through mud whilst not getting too far ahead of Debbie was interesting at one stage I was so close to being stuck in the mud and about to fall over on one side in to the mud. This was all very slapstick very funny to both of us, and made a very challenging section of the course fun instead of what am I doing here running in this.
On a side note I will do one of these crazy muddy assault course races in the future with a group of friends getting cold wet and muddy might just be a right good laugh.
The last couple of miles of any run is tough and Debbie showed no signs that she found the last tough we were on our normal running route we have run every time we go out Debbie knows where we are and how far to the end. Debbie tells me she wants to plug in to music for the homeward stretch I check that she is feeling good mot hurting and tell her she must shout me if she needs anything.
This is my time to back off and allow Debbie to get in the zone for race day and push through those last two miles. I stay in front of Debbie by a good distance I can turn round and see her, she can see me so if anything went wrong I was still there. We get to the end of the run I check that Debbie is good we have a chat and a stretch.
Debbie thanked me for that session for going out on my bike when I did not have to, of course I had to I had promised a great 12 mile training route in November to be the last long run before Brighton I don't like to let people down (my calf has no morals). We have thanked each other many times in the past always saying to each other you don't have to.
Today's thank you meant so much more because Debbie allowed me the privilege to not only take her on this run but for me to impart all my knowledge that I had gained last year when I run this course just before Brighton. It has taught me that with the right experiences and my hunger to help support and motivate others I can do this and make a difference. I know for a fact that the Debbie Cox who cross's the start and finish line in three weeks time will be a better runner than at any time in the past with all that new information to hand, just like myself last year.
Today writing this blog I know just how special the Brighton Half Marathon will be to Debbie having done all the training for what be her longest race to date, completely different from the GSR. It may only be an extra 3.2 miles and we are guilty of saying "ONLY" they will be a special 3.2 miles. I am so gutted for the first time to not be able to run, the memories of that day last year and the training in the build up god it is so special.
On the plus side I will be there on race day cheering on Debbie Cox and Becca Jones two amazing Slimpod Stars who blow my mind with what they can do. If you cannot run a race due to an injury the next best thing is helping someone achieve their goals.
Finally I wish to Thank Debbie Cox publicly for the help support and encouragement to the fact that on the 2nd day my calf went the realization that my Brighton goal had disappeared that we had only ran a few minutes you took the time to talk to me encourage me and walk me back home. Just being there at that time in that moment stopped me from breaking down and showing me that I had other goals to now work on.
The fact that you drove home and then went out and did the training run, I was so proud of you for doing that when the easiest thing to do was to not bother having had the routine messed up.
For getting me out running again after my injury lay off as winter set in there were many days I may not have run, if we had not run together just because I was out of practice of running. So before you reply "But I don't do anything" like you do!!!! That's what you do for me. I have one last request Debbie.
Enjoy every step of Brighton it will blow your mind.
A link to the route and the time Debbie did Portchester Castle Route 2:36:34 truly amazing.