Last weekend I spent a flying 48 hours in Amsterdam – for some running, obviously! More on that to come, but for now, some snaps of what we got up to…
Sounds like a pretty obvious statement, right? Especially for someone who writes a running blog and whose Twitter bio starts ‘Mostly just running’.
But it wasn’t until last week, when I found the photo below, that I realised how much it’s become the case.
I’ve been a runner for four years. I can say this with certainty, because it wasn’t a gradual process. I never ran, not really even at school. Then one day, I signed up to my first race, and I ran. I pretty much became a runner overnight. Simple.
That photo up there is my medal rack as it was after We Own The Night in 2013. Just five. Now, one year and one week later, this is what it looks like.
I’ve gone a bit crazy, huh? But like I said, I genuinely hadn’t realised quite how much. In the last year I’ve run a marathon, four half marathons and countless other shorter races. But running is the least important thing. People, experiences, travel, friends, support. That’s why running has taken over my life.
Today I will run my fifth half marathon.
The last two were part of marathon training, so they were 'just' training runs. They were at a time when 14, 16, 18 mile runs were the weekly norm.
The furthest I've run since the marathon six weeks ago is 7 miles. I've run a lot since then, but I've run short and I've run fast.
I feel very blasé about today's race, but at the same time very apprehensive. For the first time ever, I'm going to race on what I would call an injury. I'm very sensible normally and wouldn't usually have chosen to run, but today I'm running with my 59 year old Dad and 22 year old brother. It will be my little bro's first race, so there's no way I'm not running.
It's also forecast to be very hot. And the race doesn’t start until 11am, so we will literally be running in the beating midday sun. I hate running in the heat. I am not a hot weather person. Yesterday we panic bought new vest tops, white tshirts and hand held water bottles. At least I have my visor.
And then there's the route. The field is 339 runners, it's all primarily off road, it's rural, it's a little but hilly. Just look at the map.
Water fountain at the expo. It turns out Geneva is very proud of it’s water – I got a free water bottle at the expo and at the end of La Genevoise 5k on the Saturday. I loved that there were drinking water fountains ALL OVER the city centre.
Harry and I celebrating our races with a beer on the Sunday evening.
Post race refuelling at it’s finest at the Grand Duke Pub.
Our last day in Geneva was blue skied and sunny, so we climbed the tower of the Cathédrale Saint-Pierre.
…followed by the last lunch of fondue at Au Petit Chalet. It had to be done!
I think a marathon relay is a great idea. You get to experience the occasion and atmosphere of the marathon event, without the effort or pressure of training for the whole distance. But, after running in a marathon relay, I also think they might be quite a lot of faff that isn’t worth the effort.
I’ve got quite into lists on here of late, so here’s some not so great parts of the Geneva marathon relay:
The half marathon, marathon and relay marathon all start at the same place in Chêne-Bourg, a 15 minute tram ride out of the centre of Geneva. The relayers, then head to a park and ride site a further 10-15 min walk along the main road. Our bus for the second leg was supposed to leave at 8:15, it eventually left over half an hour later. It was all a bit boring and I don’t love spending my Sunday hanging out next to a multi-story car park. It didn’t help that the half marathon started at 8:30 so I was sat on the bus (not moving) thinking ‘I could’ve just been running by now’.
The start of leg two was at FC Choulex, a small football club in a rural town outside of Geneva. There was one toilet, no cover and it was ruddy freezing. We had over an hour wait. I was happy to run off out of there.
We didn’t get the start line atmosphere or finish line glory. There were around 300 people starting our leg together, but all at different times. The ‘finish’/swap over at leg four was even more sparse. We just got to a sort-of ‘lay by’ set up in the middle of nowhere… then just stopped.
I entered the relay as a team, but in reality I saw less of the three girls in my team than I would’ve done if we’d all just ran one of the other distances as a ‘regular’ race. Leah handed over to me, then I handed over to Kiera, but the few scrambled seconds in between legs was all I saw of them. (I was then a rubbish team mate and missed Beki doing the finishing leg as I was desperate for a shower.)
The good thing about this race was running my leg with Billie, from the second Team Naturally, Run team. We had leg 2, which was 10k-21k of the marathon course. If I was running on my own I probably would have hated it. The route was through fields, woodland, vineyards and small villages. The only supporters were families out at the end of their drives. The scenery was stunning in parts – mountains and little castles flying Swiss flags off in the distance. There were some points with slightly soul destroying 90 degree turns, where you were running out along one side of a field and then turning and running along the other.
The actual running part I enjoyed. 7 miles was a pretty perfect distance, and exactly 4 weeks after the marathon, it was the first time my legs didn’t feel absolutely and completely mashed up. The actual race was fairly well organised (other than the super late running shuttle bus at the start, and having to wait a while to get one back to the finish in the city centre after our leg), with the usual stuff such as expo, aid stations and medals all being top notch.
I don’t think I’d run a race as a relay again, for me it meant I lost all the parts I enjoy about racing – the city centre location, the crowds, the atmosphere. But it meant that I got to run through some of the Swiss countryside that I wouldn’t have seen otherwise and it was a different racing experience. I don’t think I would’ve enjoying running the half marathon distance so soon after the marathon anyway. This was just a very small part of a brilliant running weekend away with friends.