Hey everybody, I’m super excited to say that Race #9 of my LauranDoes179 Challenge is in the bag! I’m running 179 miles over 15 races in 2015 to raise as much money as possible for the Blazeman Foundation for ALS research as part of the TeamDrea Challenge. Race #9, The Hadrian’s Wall Half Marathon, was held on Sunday, June 28th in the Northumberland countryside surrounding the famous Roman wall. And let me tell you, it was a doozy.
This past Friday, Mikey and I journeyed down to Jesmond, a lovely and leafy neighbourhood in Newcastle. We stayed at the Jesmond Dene House Hotel which is a gorgeous old Arts & Crafts-era house set in lovely, verdant gardens. Friday night and Saturday were all about relaxing, eating good food (the hotel has awesome food), and exploring the surrounding sites like the Ouseburn Parks and the Biscuit Factory art gallery. It was really good to get to spend some quality time together as things have been pretty busy lately for the both of us.
Sunday was race day and dawned drizzly and cool but brightened up eventually. We left the lovely Jesmond Dene House behind and journeyed about 45 minutes northwest to reach the race HQ which was in a field in the middle of nowhere in the National Trust World Heritage Site that surrounds Hadrian’s Wall. The Wall is a structure composed of a wall, ditches, and fortifications which was built through Northern England in 122 AD by the Roman Emperor Hadrian to keep an eye on the pesky tribes who were living up North in what would become Scotland. By the way, the wall is much shorter than I thought it was going to be. I have since learned this hints at the wall being more of a political symbol of power than a structure intended to actually repel raiding barbarians but it always makes me giggle to think that maybe Hadrian just thought the pre-Scots were little mini-sized people.
Anyways, Mikey was racing this one with me (well, not with me so much as miles ahead of me if we’re being honest) and I was very grateful to have him there for support ahead of the race as I was not feeling well at all in my….tummy region. It was so bad that I was considering letting Mikey carry the LauranDoes179 torch for this race and I would wait in the car or, more accurately, the port-a-loo. In the end, I put my big girl Depends pants on and decided to at least start the race and see how I got on.
At 10:04am (nearly on time) the race got underway and headed along a curvy, up and down section of road for about 1.5 miles before turning left onto a farm track that ran parallel to Hadrian’s Wall which was about 100m away up on top of a hill. From 1.5 miles up until about 11 miles we were either on these gravel tracks or completely off-road scrambling across wet, muddy fields. The final 2 miles saw us back on the road and we looped round to finish where we had started in the car park on the field in the middle of nowhere.
This race was the single hardest physical challenge I have ever undertaken in my entire life. I was feeling terrible….I threw up after every water station as well as when I tried to eat my gel at 8 miles. At 4 miles in, I had to stop and ask Mountain Rescue, who were marshalling the race, for wet wipes and paper towels because I had some bathroom issues about ½ a mile earlier. Oh, and remember when I though the Isle of Skye Half Marathon was hilly? Well, that race ain’t got nothin’ on the Hadrian’s Half. I want to go back in time and slap my pansy-ass previous self for worrying about the widdle tiny hills in Skye. The hills in this one were PUNISHING. For example, mile 7 was completely uphill over rough terrain and a very rocky track. The cherry on top of the whole, messy cake was that my right knee and IT band were screaming in pain for some reason for the second half of the race.
All of these things got piled on top of each other and I was just a complete mess the whole way round. I had never previously had a really horrible race experience before and I totally let it get on top of me. I had so many negative thoughts and fears and wanted to stop so badly. I cried several times, sobbing in front of complete strangers at the final water stop. But, through all the tears and bodily functions I just got through it. I ran, scrambled, hobbled, cried, and vomited my way round 13.1 miles of pure hell but I just kept trying to put things in perspective. My pain will end, my stomach will feel better, I’ll be warm and dry within ½ an hour, my problems right now are nothing compared to what other people go through. Other people are doing extraordinary things all day every day just to survive….I can make it through a half marathon. That perspective somehow got me through and I learned I’m a heckuva lot stronger than I thought I was.
And make it through I did. I can’t describe how wonderful it was to finally find myself on the stretch to the finish line, covered in throw-up and tears, and see my wonderful husband clap and cheer me all the way home. He had finished the race in a blazing 1:38 and achieved 26th place over-all. What an achievement. A big congratulations to him and many thanks for the support and being willing to sit next to me in the car on the ride home.
So that’s that, readers. Race #9 was tough but worth it because I’m raising money for a necessary and worthy cause. Hopefully, my tale has inspired you to consider donating to my challenge if you have not already done so. There is a donate button at the top of the page or you can use the following link. I would be forever grateful:
I’m excited to say that I’m now 76.03 miles into my challenge….102.97 miles to go! My next race will be the Haddington Half Marathon here in Scotland on the 8th of August.