This post is mostly a ‘thank you’ to all of you who sponsored, encouraged, or at the very least grudgingly tolerated me as I prepared to run the Oxford Half Marathon in aid of the Nasio Trust. The big race was yesterday. Nine thousand of us lined up in the centre of Oxford under a beautiful blue sky, to await the starting klaxon. Guess what: I didn’t win. (But my friend Chris did come 15th out of the 9000, which just boggles the brain: he’s fast.) Still, I ran all 13.1 miles (21km), for which I got a nice heavy finisher’s medal:-
But I’m getting ahead of myself: let’s go back to the beginning. Most of my running posts on here have been about various disasters, and it was starting to look as though yesterday would be no exception. Some tough stuff has been happening in the last week or so: my grandmother died suddenly, one of my sons was rushed to hospital in an ambulance in the middle of the night with breathing difficulties (he’s fine now) and – on a vastly more trivial note but still incompatible with running – I just have not been able to shake off the stubborn cough/cold that I developed about a million years ago. Also sleeping through the alarm on the day of the race wasn’t a great start. But somehow, we got ourselves organized-ish, and arrived in Oxford under a brilliant blue, but very chilly, sky.
The old limestone buildings in the heart of Oxford were positively glowing in the autumn sunshine. I’d planned to take lots of photos on the day to show you, but in the end that didn’t happen, what with running an’ all. I did, however, manage to snatch a shot of my feet. Just in case you don’t know what feet look like.
Nine thousand competitors is a lot of people, and the centre of Oxford was crowded. (Those thirteenth-century street planners didn’t really consider the needs of twenty-first century race-runners.) But there was such a joyful atmosphere, and there were brass bands playing, and spectators cheering and handing out jelly-babies to passing runners, and everyone seemed so excited. This was my first ever race, and when we crossed the start-line, it felt very, very, odd to be on the inside of the barricades instead of being one of the spectators cheering on a friend. At first, squeezed into narrow streets between the barriers, it was all a bit too crowded, but later in the race there was far more space.
Yes it was a race, and I’m sure there was a certain amount of hard-nosed competitiveness up near the front (you’ll have to ask Chris), but back where I was, it was more like a group of folk enjoying a run together rather than a race, and it just felt happy. I was running as part of a small team for the Nasio Trust, led by my friend’s daughter Ella (proud mum post here on my friend’s blog), and we mostly ran together, an orange-clad band of five with matching balloons. Hang on, I’ll just blag a couple more pictures from Ella’s mum so that I can show you them.
It was fun to be racing up and down a city that I know so, so, well. We ran past the college where I did my first degree, and the college where I did my doctorate, and very near my first flat, but my plan to take photos as I went just didn’t happen, because it turns out that 13.1 miles is actually rather a long way, and I was busy concentrating on keeping moving. Had I stopped, I might never have started again.
Anyway, WE DID IT. Two hours and twenty-four minutes (including an eight-minute loo stop) after setting off, we dragged our weary feet over the finish line and boy, were we ready to stop.
So THANK YOU for all your support. So far, you’ve contributed £437.50 (including Gift Aid) to this fantastic cause. There is still time to donate! The link is right here, and every penny will help improve the life opportunities of disadvantaged children.
And now, let’s get back to the knitting.
RIP Alma Merritt – mother, grandmother, war survivor, knitter, genealogist, historian, and lover of the written word. I thought about you the whole way round the race.