On a bright and early Warwickshire morning, before the sun had lifted the patchwork of dewdrops from the ground, we gathered.
Banners flapped in the lightest breeze, brilliant red against the starting of a clear blue sky, and underneath them, in glorious technicolour, they lined up to run.
Stretching a little, hopping up and down to keep warm in the shadows, tweaking numbers and armbands and hats. And then as the hour grew nearer, and the pens grew fuller, the mental game began; excitement, enthusiasm, doubt, concern all swirling together to feed a nervous energy.
And they were off. And H among them, running his first half marathon in a good eleven years.
I’m not sure exactly why he decided to run a half marathon, especially when he’s already doing another one in a few weeks, and to be honest I’m not sure he does either because his latest motto appears to be “friends don’t let friends enter half marathons when they’ve had a beer”. Which I think may accurately be translated as “wife, please hide the credit card until this madness passes me by”.
But he’d entered so he ran; around a course that both he and his run tracker described as “relentlessly uphill” and a few other slightly more choice phrases that are alas a little less repeatable.
The course was set such that there was no way we could have made it out to see him en route and then back to watch the finish so the children and I headed off to the pub for breakfast, pausing only occasionally between spoonfuls of porridge and dips of eggy soldiers to wonder how Daddy was getting along.
Feeling full and happy as a cat stretched out in sunshine we wandered down to the finish line and found ourselves a spot on the barriers to wait for H. And standing there and cheering everyone in I could see why people run races, and why you could so easily get sucked in to doing another one. There’s something very special about witnessing another person pushing themselves to the limit of their endurance, and watching their stories in the little vignettes that the end of the race revealed.
The couple crossing the line holding hands, one guy hauling the other along so determined that they would finish the race together; the girl who though either injured or just exhausted limped slowly through the finish, supported by a lady in street clothes, holding one hand and with the other gently resting on the small of her back, who I think must have been her mother; and then my H, running tired, visibly willing that finish line towards him with every step he took but still smiling and waving to his girls.
He finished exhausted but triumphant, on a tough course that seems to have been uphill most of the way. This is the first time that he’s run this distance without running with me and so it was the first time I wasn’t holding him back and I know he was aiming for a good time and to beat our time from all those years ago.
This was not the course for a PB though and I’m incredibly proud of his 2.02 time. But I have a suspicion that he might just be pushing himself a little bit more in the next one (which I hope is flatter) because it turns out that right now, and by only a second, I’m the current holder of the family PB for a half marathon!
Joining Katie at Mummy Daddy Me for The Ordinary Moments