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PART 1: Pushing Mo to his Personal Best for AvMA

View profile for Robert Dempsey
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After weeks of “training” for the London half marathon the weekend of the race finally arrived.

The Friday before was not ideal preparation. A routine dental check- up resulted in 3 mouth numbing injections and a filling. It dawned on me I should have asked sooner if this was something I should leave until after the run, but by the time I asked, the injections had kicked in and I just dribbled something about how I was “thuppothed to be rubbing a half marathon”. The dentist did the drilling, handed me a tissue and ushered me out the door as quickly as possible.

By the Saturday when I arrived in London the discomfort was reduced to a tingling sensation so no real concerns there. Then I twisted my ankle. In the National Science Museum to be precise. Somewhere between a giant Periodic Table and a huge display of clocks to be even more precise. Nothing too serious, but I was still aware of it when I arrived at the hotel where I would be staying the night before the run. It was a convenient location which explained the volume of competitors staying there. They were congregating around the lobby, resplendent in matching leisure wear and comparing notes on training schedules, nutritional programmes and power shakes. My ankle suddenly started to hurt a bit more.

"As I supped on my own power shake (black and creamy and from across the Irish Sea) I secretly hoped the event would be cancelled due to high winds."

Before settling down for a good night’s sleep, I left the hotel to go on a brief recce to be sure of the race starting point. None of the other runners in the hotel seemed to think this was necessary. They’d obviously done this before. Unfortunately the weather was diabolical with the tail end of Storm Freya crossing with the beginning of Storm Gareth, such innocuous names at odds with the damage wreaked over the weekend. One sounding like a calming au pair and the other a friendly hairdresser. I knew this wouldn’t have abated by the day of the race, and as I supped on my own power shake (black and creamy and from across the Irish Sea) I secretly hoped the event would be cancelled due to high winds.

On the morning of the race I received an e-mail from the race organisers. Perhaps the event had been cancelled?  I opened it like a kid hoping to find out the school boiler had packed up in the cold weather and I could stay at home. Alas not. The race was going ahead save that some of the after events wouldn’t be. I hadn’t given the “after events” much thought. I wasn’t convinced I would make it to the “after”.

After my pre-run porridge (something I couldn’t have said on the Friday before) I embarked upon the undignified procedure of applying plasters and Vaseline as preparation and set off for the starting line where, as  part of the event, the organisers were blasting out inspirational running music from giant speakers as voted for by the contestants. (I must have missed that e-mail, “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now “would have felt fitting but may have soured the mood).

The music thing was clearly well intentioned, especially as there was a lot of hanging around, but any possibility it would help recreate some scene from a  Hollywood sports’ film (chubby Manc lad overcomes adversity to defeat Olympic legend) was scuppered by the queues and queues of people waiting in line for the grotty Portaloos.

Whilst waiting I got chatting to a Chelsea Pensioner who said he wasn’t taking part in the race. This was a shame.  I’m sure I could have beaten him. He did however offer to “take good care of my lady wife” by which I assumed he meant he would keep her company as I ran.  On reflection this sounded a bit more sinister than I first thought but I’m sure it was well intentioned. I never took him up on the offer and didn’t tell my wife until later.

By the time I reached the front of the line, the speaker directly outside the Portaloo I was occupying, started to blast out “Eye of the Tiger” from Rocky. This resulted in the most inspirational toilet visit I have ever encountered. I’m not sure anyone has ever emptied their bowels in such awe-inspiring circumstances.

We were soon approaching the 10 minute countdown before the race. I looked around and realised I was surrounded by athletic types who were comfortable wearing lycra and inexplicably, stockings on their arms. I was wearing a t-shirt I had bought off the market and the over garment I had fashioned from a black bin bag to keep out the cold, (shout out to South Holland District Council) was filling out and becoming inflated by Freya, Gareth, or a combination of the two.  My ankle started hurting again.

We'll follow up with part 2 next week, keep checking our twitter @Roythornes for updates.

A massive thank you to all those who donated, with your help I raised £600 for AvMA!