I have since found out that this is quite an iconic race, which has been going since 1982. Mo Farah is a previous winner but I didn't really know much about the event. This was because I hadn't actually entered it.
|...is the year I turn 65 and will still probably be 10 years from retirement|
Mrs Trihard had signed up for the run, along with some friends, to raise money for MDS UK Patient Support Group.
When we first moved to Turners Hill I would take the artist formerly known as Toddler Trihard (now Trihard Jr 1) to a playgroup. There I met a wonderful woman by the name of Lisa. She had a son a few months older than Trihard Jr 1, who was two or three at the time.
Occasionally Lisa's husband, Gavin, would pop in as well. I later learnt that Gavin was suffering from a rare malignant disorder, known as myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS).
But you wouldn't know it. Despite the family (they had two older daughters) going through what I can only describe as sheer hell in the time that I've known them, you'd rarely, if ever hear them complain.
Gav was always chatty, ready with a joke and would often have a queue of three year olds waiting for him to spin them round by the arms.
To cut a long story short, Gav, tragically lost his battle in 2016 (months before his 40th birthday), after finding himself at the centre of a political bun-fight over the funding of second stem cell transplants. However, because of Gav, Lisa and the children's tireless and fearless campaigning this policy has been changed, which you can read about (and I strongly urge you to) here.
|Despite several lawsuits, the Crown landlord never got tired of the "superglue round the rim of the pint glass" gag.|
So, Mrs Trihard and a few of her friends signed up to raise some money for MDS Patient Support. However just a week before the event, due to unforeseen circumstances, a couple of the fund raisers had to drop out.
Out of all the running, cycling and triathlon events I have taken part in there have only been a couple that I have done for charity but it has been very much on my "to do" list to raise some money for the various causes that have helped the Hepburns over the last six years.
And to be honest they are my heroes who inspire me and motivate me on a daily basis. I don't think there are many adults who could have coped with what Ellis (now eight), Tilly (ten) and Olivia (13) have been through, let alone use the situation to help so many others. They are the living and breathing example of the phrase "when life gives you lemons, make lemonade."
So I was more than happy to step in.
And I had selfish reasons for taking part as well. It's been almost a year since I had competed in an event and, as I've mentioned in a previous post, I've been training hard and have lost a bit of weight in recent months, so wanted to (as I described it to Mrs Trihard) "take my new body out for a spin."
Also, I am booked in for a half marathon in January where I would like to break the sub two hour mark (my personal best for a half is just under 2 hr 10 mins) so I wanted to gauge how much work I have to do, to get myself to that level of running fitness.
Preparation, preparation, preparation.
When you've done as many events as I have you know how important it is to get everything prepared the night before and have an early night. Which was why I was out until the small hours, drinking a bar dry for a friend's 40th birthday.
That's right, I was out drinking. And I drank so many alcohol free beers that the bar ran out of them. By the time I got to bed it was 1am (I'm usually tucked up in bed by 10pm) so really wasn't feeling it when the alarm went off at 6am. However after consuming several gallons of caffeine I began to feel that I might just about make it to the start line.
|These are proper athletes, so don't bother looking to see if I'm in this photo|
So, arriving at the starting line, Mrs Trihard asked if I could help her with some stretching exercises, which I duly obliged. However it was then that I noticed she had a timing chip on her shoe. I looked around, so did everyone else.
Stitch in time
As I mentioned, the night before a run it's good practice to get everything ready - pin your number to your shirt (I did that in the car) and fasten your timing chip to your laces. I'd obviously left it in the car but the car was a good 10 minutes away (well, probably two for Mo Farah).
Realisation set in. If I got a world, European UK or course record it wasn't going to count. If I didn't beat Mo's winning going to count. Was there any point in me racing?
Well, obviously I was doing it for charity, lots of people had sponsored me (and if you haven't you can here) and I owed it to the Hepburns, so I wasn't going to let them down.
And my expensive new watch (which was actually a huge bargain, thank you Mrs Trihard) would record every microscopic detail of the run. So at least I'd know if I happened to achieve a new world half-marathon record, even if the world didn't.
Go hard or go home
Now I was fuelled up with caffeine I decided what my tactic was going to be to assess my fitness for a half marathon. Should I start off at a pace that I was comfortable with and try and increase it as the race went on? Or should I go at a pace that I knew was the equivalent of a sub 2hr half marathon and see how long I could keep it up for?
All of my training runs involve hills, not out of choice just because its quite hilly round my way. If I want a flat run I have to get in the car and drive, which is obviously rather counterproductive. So to have an easyish run, I still have to take in several inclines. And this is all off-road.
As a result I find I am quicker (relatively speaking) when running on a flat, mainly paved route. So I decided to go at a pace that was a little out of my comfort zone but would give me a taste of what was required for January.
The old stamping groundAnother reason I was eager to do the Cabbage Patch 10 is because I'm so familiar with the area. I went to Kingston University and lived in the area for six years in total. Everyone I was out with the night before I'd met at University, more than 20 years ago. I'd obviously had some very drunken nights out there.
This was going through my mind as we approached Kingston Bridge. It was then that I spotted some freshly laid vomit in the doorway of a shop. I then realised it was Sigma Sports. A very high end Triathlon and Bike shop. I had a bit of a wry chuckle.
I knew that if I had been drinking the night before I would have been feeling pretty ill myself at that moment. Instead I was running through my university town, at a pace that when I was a student would have probably made me want to puke my guts up, with or without any booze.
|Any Kingston Uni friends want to join me next year?|
And now I was storming through there four miles into the Cabbage Patch 10.
At the six mile mark I decided to ease up. I'm not sure if this was a wise decision or not. I know it wasn't a pace that I couldn't keep up but even after a mile of taking it relatively easy, I wasn't able to get a good pace back up and was really starting to struggle. However, I realised that if I was able to keep up a moderate pace I might be able to finish in under 1hr 30 mins (a little off the course record of 46 mins 2 secs), which was a lot better than I had been hoping for.
You can't escape itI was willing myself on but was beginning to feel quite dehydrated, I was absolutely gasping for a drink. I rounded a corner and was confronted with a stand giving out tiny cups of beer.
Beer?! Can you believe it?! Had they not read my last blog?!
I was so thirsty that I almost gave in. "Just a tiny bit wouldn't hurt would it?" I thought. But I pushed on, rounded another corner and was delighted to see the finishing line.
I clocked in at 1 hr 32 mins 7 secs, so what does that equal in half marathon terms? Well despite dropping off dramatically at the six mile mark, my average pace came in at 5.44/km. Over a half marathon this would equate to 2 hrs 0 mins 58 secs...
So with three months to go I am actually wondering whether I shouldn't perhaps set my sights a little higher. Maybe even a sub 1 hr 50 mins. We shall have to wait and see.
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