Today is our 14th wedding anniversary, so Stuart and I decided to celebrate by taking part in a running event: Indy Run. This is an unusual running event in that it takes place along an out-and-back route along a towpath. Entrants can run as many or as few laps as they like in a 6 hour period.
Initially, Stu and I thought it would be good to do it as a supported long run ahead of the Long Course Weekend, but our training plans have slightly changed, so we decided to just aim for the half marathon distance at Indy Run and then see how we were feeling.
We got up at 6am, dressed, ate breakfast and were on the road by 7am. The traffic wasn’t too bad, so we arrived just after 8:30am.
As soon as we entered the leisure centre, we were greeted by the Race Director (in full Indiana Jones fancy dress) and one of his colleagues. They quickly checked us in and gave us our race numbers, which were also themed:
We had enough time to got to the leisure centre cafe before the run briefing. I considered having a hot chocolate, but was feeling quite warm, so I opted for a bottle of Lucozade instead.
The race briefing was at 9:20, so I got ready and walked outside with Stu. Quite a few people were in fancy dress, but I was more surprised to see how many people were wearing running tights, long-sleeved tops, buffs and jackets – did they know something I didn’t? There weren’t many people wearing shorts and vests like I was.
After a very brief briefing, we walked down to the start and the race started at 9:30am.
I’d positioned myself towards the back as I knew that I would be one of the slower runners and I also wanted to give myself time to warm up as I’ve not run for longer than an hour since Southampton Half Marathon.
Disaster on my first lap
The first part of the course was quite busy and we almost came to a standstill a few hundred metres in, but I knew that the athletes would soon spread out.
There were a few dog walkers around, but I was far more interested in the activities taking place on the river as there were loads of people out rowing and as it’s half term there were quite a few novice teenagers who were giving it a go. I love watching rowing and I like being on a rowing machine, so maybe one day I’ll get to try the real thing. (I’m too short to be much good at it and like food too much to be a cox, but I still think it would be fun).
The course was almost entirely flat, with the exception of a small bridge that we had to cross, but it was a little stony in places. After running for about a mile, I tripped on a rock (I think). It turned into one of those comedy moments that you see on TV where my arms and legs flailed for quite a few seconds. I didn’t want to hit the gravelly path, so I managed to stumble to the grass verge… but it wasn’t grass. I launched myself right into some brambles and stinging nettles. My gentle shouts of “Oh shit! Oh shit! Aarrgghh!” alerted the runners near me who kindly rushed to my aid, but fortunately, the main damage was to my pride.
Shortly afterwards, just after the 2km point, I saw Stuart, who was in 3rd place. He looked comfortable.
Finishing my first lap at Indy Run
At the end of the first lap, a marshal passed me a wristband and then I passed the aid station, which is affectionately known as ‘the tuck shop’. I particularly liked the fact that there were large jelly snakes, to go with the Indiana Jones theme. I stopped for a glass of water and a single sweet (not an enormous snake!) and then headed out on my second lap.
Halfway through my second lap, a chap started chatting with me. He commented how lucky I was that I hadn’t hit the path. I looked around and realised that I recognised the runner – Brian Mills. I first met Brian at New Forest Marathon a couple of years ago. At the time he was running his 997th marathon and had already planned his next few. I asked Brian how many marathons he has now run and was staggered by his answer: 1170. He has already run 52 so far this year and would love to have the money to be able to run more.
I slowed down a bit to chat with Brian and found it hard to get back into my rhythm. I also realised that I needed the loo, but couldn’t remember what we were told about toilets that had been sent out in the race info. In the end, I decided that a quick visit to the bushes was in order. :-S
Lap 3 at Indy Run
On my third lap, I saw Stu heading towards the finish. He had moved into second place and was still looking very comfortable.
When I finished my third lap, I looked around for Stu, but he wasn’t anywhere around. I sat down on the low wall to take off my shoes that had filled up with pebbles and glanced at my watch. 1:52 – my half marathon PB… and I still had just over 5km to go. Oh well, I knew it wasn’t going to be quick. I was enjoying the conversations and camaraderie with other runners.
It was quite nice to know that I was heading out on my final lap. As I was running slower than I’m used to my hands had started getting a bit chilly, but I was generally feeling warm.
On this lap, there were a lot of ducks, geese and swans on the path as some tourists had been feeding them. Some of the geese were giving me the evil eye. I decided to run quite wide as I didn’t fancy being pecked.
Reaching the turnaround felt amazing. I had to run into a headwind, but I felt much more confident that I was going to make it to the finish in one piece. I looked at my watch again and set myself an achievable time goal. Eell, I thought it was achievable, but I had to pick up my pace a bit.
About 800m from the end, I saw Stuart. He had his phone out to take some pictures. I’d like to think they’re a bit blurry because I was running so quickly. 😉
I managed to pass a few people in my final sprint, but I didn’t quite hit my time goal. I collected my final band and rang the bell to signal that I had finished.
How did I do?
I wanted to finish in 2:30. According to my Garmin, I ended up running 21.4km. My official time was 2:31:31.
I was awarded my medal by the Race Director. As the official Phoenix Running photos show, it is an amazing medal:
To give you some indication of the medal’s size, it is longer than my fingertips to my wrist and wider than my palm!
I rewarded myself with a sweetie snake at the end and a Freddo bar. Then I headed back into the leisure centre to wash the blood off my legs and change. We made it just before there was a torrential downpour.
This evening I had a quick look at the results. The event’s winner was Peter Lemon who completed 29.52 miles in 4:28. Stuart was the fastest half marathoner, completing the distance in 1:34:04. 19 people chose to complete the half marathon distance. I was 2nd female and 10th overall.
I really enjoyed this event. There was a great sense of fun about it and I felt under no pressure to compete. It was really well organised and everyone was friendly and supportive. I would have no hesitation in signing up for another Phoenix Running event and would be tempted to do a full marathon with the group when I have time to train for it.