On exercise, and the Indian Queens Half Marathon

I’m still riding high on the endorphins from yesterday’s half marathon so I wanted to get my thoughts on paper (err, screen) before I dip back into lethargy, apathy and general sloth-dom. So in case it wasn’t clear, the Indian Queens Half Marathon went FANTASTICALLY WELL and I whizzed around the course in 20 degree sunshine to finish in the very respectable time of 2 hours and 28 minutes. Not my fastest, but far from my slowest, and a time I feel like I definitely didn’t deserve!

As I’ve made clear, running the Manchester marathon did a bit of a number on me and the past few months have been a struggle between wanting to get back in an exercise routine, falling out of love with the gym (so busy, all the time), and wanting to just stop exercising all together. Unfortunately, I am in possession of what a polite person may call a “healthy appetite”, and combined with a sugar addiction, sedentary job, and Netflix subscription, that means that quite simply, I can’t afford not to exercise. If I gave in to my true nature my jeans wouldn’t fit, and on a more serious note, nothing clears my head and lifts my mood like a good sweat sesh, whether that’s a vigorous coastal hike or swinging kettlebells precariously over my head. Our bodies are made to move, and we owe it to ourselves to do that in whatever way feels best.

I’d initially signed up for the Indian Queens race last summer, but had to pull out after straining something in my foot. A running friend did take part and hated it, complaining that it was boring – straight and flat…sounds pretty perfect to me! The race director was kind enough to defer my entry to this year, so in May I wrote myself a training plan. Then promptly ignored said training plan and did what I wanted, which resulted in an average of 5.4 miles of running a week (and written like that, wow). Sunday morning came around and I briefly contemplated not going, after all I clearly hadn’t put in any work so it was going to be incredibly difficult and painful and I’d only lose £15 so…it turns out I’m more stubborn than I thought, as I ate a banana, laced my Sauconys and dragged Paul up the A30, to Indian Queens.

This is very much a club run, as almost everyone was in a branded vest of some sort, but I’m used to this now and was quickly sorted out with my race number. There were close to 600 runners and we started promptly, trotting down the road towards the trails of Goss Moor. It was cloudy and humid to start, and I quickly warmed up and was glad of the spf on my face that morning, though how much stayed on through all the sweat I can’t be sure. As it was so warm, I made sure to drink a little at each water station, which were well stocked and every 3 miles. The first 6 miles flew by and as the course was an out and back, us slow-pokes were soon seeing the ‘elites’ on their way back – the winner completed in a stonking 73 minutes, at which point I’d just about hit 7 miles! The pace at which people can run is incredible and I can’t imagine how different the experience must be, to finish so quickly.

The bulk of the race was on the Goss Moor trails which my pal so hated, but the gravelly, straight paths meant that I could keep a steady pace, despite the blazing sun. The brass band at mile 4 or so was quite bizarre but made me smile, and there was great crowd support, if you can call the residents of the various hamlets around IQ and Roche a crowd…The only considerable hill was around mile 7 and seemed to stretch up the road forever, though thankfully it wasn’t steep but I did stop to walk a little. A bit longer on the country roads and we were back on the trails and on the return. The groups of runners had spread out so much now I was mostly on my own, other than a few yards in step with others at the same pace. The scenery around, when you could see it through the hedges, was nice but nothing particularly interesting – no coast or points of interest other than the whites of the clay pits in the distance. I hit mile 10 at around 1h55 feeling very proud of myself and confident that actually, I might pull this off!

My feet haven’t been quite right since the marathon, even since last year’s injury really, with aches and pains coming and going, and it was around this point they really started to throb. Probably due mostly to being out of practice, but I’ve also got a sinking feeling that a chiropodist visit may be in my future for some insoles. Sad face. The final 5km passed by bit by bit until all of a sudden I was back on the main road and making my way towards the finish line. Much as I tried not to walk in the final mile, it was all a bit too much and I had to pause a little, before giving it a good push for the home stretch. The nice thing about being a later finisher is there’s always a good crowd around the finishing line, which was great. I crossed the line as my Garmin beeped 13 miles and promptly collapsed on the grass, downing water and chomping down the free mars bar. Relief!

Unfortunately I forgot the most important part of a run – recovery. A hastily downed chocolate milkshake and a litre of electrolytes go a long way but don’t quite make up for a complete lack of stretching, foam rolling, or ice baths (as an aside, I pride myself on a high pain tolerance but have never been able to face more than 5 seconds in a bath full of iced water. The pain is quite remarkable, though I’m told it is worth it for the feeling of brand new legs). So I’ve been paying for it today, walking like John Wayne and wincing every time I leave the comforts of my desk chair.

So, what next? I’ve not got any races on the calendar and have no desire to run Truro or Eden again, but I do have a wedding dress to fit into and the accompanying photographs are already filling me with dread, so you will still see me dragging myself around west Cornwall. Our gym memberships come to an end this month and budgets require we don’t renew; as cheap as it is, we’re just not using it enough. Perhaps now it’s time to get some use out of my yoga mat and get bendy, or maybe try something completely different. CrossFit, anyone?*

look, proof!
look, proof!

*joking, obv. If I can’t afford £15 a month gym membership I definitely can’t afford £20 a week CrossFit…!

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