By Judy Lankester
I think it is fair to say that for a lot of my races I have been unable to train as I would have wanted to. This is no more true than for the Madrid Half. I had already dropped from the marathon distance down to the half some time previously. Due to the sudden loss of my dad, and the funeral the day before heading across to the airport, my head could not have been in a worse place and physically all I had managed was two training runs. One of 5 miles, and one of 6 miles. I’m not exaggerating for dramatic effect. Literally that was it.
So having had a month of not really sleeping, and night time panic attacks, I had a wobble before getting on the train to the airport and was talked into still going. I had a wobble whilst at the airport hotel and was talked into still going. I had a wobble in the airport and was talked into still going. Suffice to say the wobbles did not disappear.
A chilly and grey day in Madrid the day before the race – perfect running conditions awaited on Sunday. Or maybe not. Bright sunshine when the curtains were opened on race day. Conditions very similar to London, at which point I was more than a little relieved that I was only doing the half.
Having made it to the start line, that was the first point at which I was sure I was going to actually attempt it. And at that stage I knew nothing was going to stop me finishing it. My mum had very trustingly (given my scattiness) loaned me my dad’s ring and I was determined that he was going to see me round.
With a wry grin on my face as they played “Road to Hell” we set off, me hoping that the road was not indeed going to become hell! Given the lack of training, I had decided to stick with a jeffing approach of 2 minutes run/1 minute walk, starting off at something I hoped I would be able to maintain throughout.
The first 4-5km were on a very gradual incline and according to the route profile most of the rest was supposed to be slightly downhill. It lied although there certainly were no hills in comparison to Yorkshire hills.
The atmosphere was great with several bands around the course providing a welcome distraction.
I surprised myself with covering the first 5 miles in under an hour – first time of being able to do that for a while. More of a surprise was covering miles 6-10 in a similar time. Perhaps there’s something to this jeffing thing. At that stage and not surprisingly the legs started to struggle. Lack of time on my feet was starting to take effect. At that point I imagined my dad encouraging me to keep going and telling me I could do it. I think we had a proper little conversation in my head. And so kept going I did.
I was absolutely delighted when my watch said just half a mile to go. Substantially less delighted when I say the sign saying 2km to go. In my attempts to find some shade I had run far from the most direct route (13.82 miles in the end!).
Despite that little surprise, I managed to get to the end, really running on empty at this stage and possibly looking slightly lobster like given the heat (similar conditions to London). The emotions on crossing the line got the better of me and I burst into tears. I’m quite sure everyone thought I was someone to be avoided at that stage. Strange looks ahoy!
Without a doubt the most challenging emotionally of all the races I have done. I’m proud of myself and pretty sure my dad would have been proud too. Not only have I got a fab bit of bling (it’s all about the bling) it has reignited my interest in running and if I can maintain it I very much hope to be a regular back at club soon.
The race was fab for many reasons – expo easy to get to (one stop from the airport), it was all very well organised, the course itself was lovely, the people supporting were loud and as a bonus I discovered that in Madrid they pour VERY large gin and tonics. So definitely one to recommend. :o)
Next stop Liverpool!
PS I managed not to lose the ring and we went to Berlin the following weekend and did parkrun there!