It turns out that running over yourself with a Segway is the best way to taper…
…for a 20 miler. For a marathon, not so much. I suppose I should add that Tagnix was lucky enough to go on holiday over Easter, and as usual, despite all my good intentions, I managed just three 5k treadmill runs in two weeks. But my intention to ramp up the training when we returned was somewhat disrupted by the aforementioned Segway incident.
A Segway is said to be impossible to fall off; however many of you will know that George W. Bush famously did just that, oh, and also the owner of the company that sells Segways, tragically, died falling from one, which I didn’t know before booking an adventure tour around Leeds Castle for Nikki’s birthday. Needless to say I got cocky, and if you ever do ride a Segway I can highly recommend not trying to reverse one downhill, which unfortunately was exactly what I did.
The Segway turned left, I expected it to turn right; I fell off leaving one leg on and as I stumbled I pulled the handlebar hard left; the Segway immediately turned fast in its own footprint and I was thrown to the floor with the Segway immediately running over my free leg; the Segway then dragged my backwards through a bramble bush before twisting my legs like a pretzel round my neck, and somebody, finally, stepped in and stopped the cursed thing.
I took 10 seconds on the ground to assess my bruised ego, bruised ankle, twisted knee, and the multitude of bramble lacerations, before deciding to stand. And immediately run across the lawn – that’s right, my first, and only, concern was can I still run. I could; however the following morning the bruises were bluer, the stiffness was stiffer, and the swellings were more swollen. We’re told to listen to our bodies, and my goodness was my body doing a lot of talking.
I exercised caution, and did just one short run through the week to make sure I wasn’t going to damage myself further by running the Ashford & District Marathon; thus I was stood on the start line on Sunday morning having run just 25 miles in the previous month, and for the first time in a long time not even sure I could finish. Just take it easy was going to be my mantra.
The Ashford and District Marathon is a two lap course starting in the pretty village of Charing, organised by the ubiquitous Nice Works Events, and as ever the organisation up to and during the race was great. After the race briefing we were off, with an undulating, edging towards hilly, first three miles (which, to be honest, you’re always going to want to get out of the way straight out of the gate) followed by a lovely length of trail through a wooded section of the Pilgrims Way which bumbled along, gently edging down.
The rest of the loop was undulating at worst; a couple of runnable hills rewarded with long, steady, fast downhills through some beautiful, quiet, lanes that are typical of this area of Kent, and almost before I knew it I was at 13 miles and feeling strong. A savage, but relatively short kick back up and I was once more on the Pilgrims way for lap two. And I was amazed that the body was holding together, all the aches and pains of the previous week had gone and I was coasting. Until mile 18. Then the pain came back, and finally the wheels fell off at mile 20, just in time for the only bit of the course you could possibly criticise; a mind numbing out and back dog leg to make up the distance. That done and I was in limp-home mode, alternating between walking and shuffling to minimise the risk of injury and to make it home in 4:15, a time I thought was frankly unattainable when I stood on that start line.
So, lessons? 1) Don’t accept limitations, anything a US President can do, so can you; and 2) your body can do more than you expect if you give it chance, though a one month no training taper is probably too much.
The Ashford and District Marathon is a must do if you live near Kent. Endlessly beautiful, occasionally tough, but potentially very fast given the right training.