A couple of weeks ago, I posted my sort-of race report from the Shakespeare Half Marathon in Stratford-upon-Avon. However, I’ve just remembered a couple of odd little musings from the race, and I’m worried that if I don’t get them down on paper, they’ll just bounce around inside my head forever.
Firstly, the coffee. It was quite a chilly morning, with an icy wind that cut right into my bones as I stood around waiting for the race to start. Also, I was in my default state of “wanting coffee and desperately needing a wee”. I spotted a nearby coffee shop, and noted that:
A) it looked toasty warm, and
B) the toilet queue in there was much shorter than the fidgety conga lines of desperate runners waiting to use the portaloos1
Mere minutes after I went in there, it dawned on me that they also sold coffee. Bonus!
Bladder empty, I walked out clutching my flat white, with just a couple of minutes to spare until the race started. I finished my coffee just as I crossed the start line, and normally I’d just chuck the empty cup to one side, because races have the magical effect of making littering acceptable. But this was Stratford-upon-Avon, and it just didn’t feel right to drop my cup on the historic cobbles. It’d be like travelling back in time to 1600 and pushing Queen Elizabeth into a skip full of soiled nappies. Sort of.
So I kept hold of it. And then I kept keeping hold of it. The first mile or two of the race was through the beautiful town centre, the route thronged by cheering spectators (i.e. witnesses). There were plenty of bins, but they always seemed to be on the opposite side of the road from wherever I happened to be and I was reluctant to dart across the front of my fellow runners and cause a massive pile-up so early on in the race.
After a couple of miles, I started worrying. What if I ended up doing the whole race holding this bloody coffee cup? Firstly, people would think I was weird (okay, weirder). But worse still, what if I ran an amazing race? What if I got a PB? I know the way my stupid brain works, and I had visions of feeling compelled to carry this damned thing me on every race I did until the end of time, never daring to risk jinxing myself by running without the Cup Of Destiny. I’d beknown as “Cup Guy”.
Then I saw a skip. I threw the cup in the skip. Because it was a cup.
(In hindsight, I didn’t run a particularly great race, which got me thinking. What if…?)
The race organisers had put out quite a few cones to mark the route in certain places. This was very helpful, and without them I would likely have wandered into traffic, a river or Dunstable. Not so helpful was the size of the cones. The first thing that struck me about them (quite literally) was that they were exactly at groin height. After the third winklestrike (real word) I started giving them a wide berth. But then, towards the end of the race, they’d started using much bigger cones. This wouldn’t usually warrant attention, but I’d just run about 11 miles and my mind was a little frazzled by exhaustion and dehydration. So my brain didn’t process this as “those cones are bigger than the cones from earlier”. Oh no, the thought that flashed into my brain and refused to budge for the next mile was “oh fuck. I’m shrinking”.
1. I’m aware that “Portaloo”, like “Hoover” and “Tannoy” is a specific brand name rather than a generic catch-all term. A while back, a fellow blogger posted that they had received a stern message from Portaloo, asking her to remove all mentions of their brand name from her blog. If CEO Geoff Portaloo wants me to do the same, I’ll happily comply, while proclaiming them a big bunch of gits.
BIT AT THE END
Hello nice blog-reading person. That’s an ace jumper you’re wearing. Really brings out the colour of your ears. Anyway, cards on the table, there are actually only two people who read this blog: You, and some Swedish bloke called Bjorn Frijmagnet. It’d be great if you could spread the word and share some links to your favourite posts on the Facebookses or the twitters. Or maybe you could scrawl “born to plod = ace” on a bedsheet and tie it to a busy roundabout. The Internet has promised me a basket of kittens for every million hits I get, and I’m hoping to get enough to start a farm. Ta.