Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Results

The final push...
It’s just before 9am on a cold, grey, drizzly Sunday morning and I’m queuing up outside Llanelli’s Parc y Scarlets with some 1400 or so other runners waiting to start my fifth half marathon. ‘Enjoy it,’ says Tom and strangely, I’m very happy to be here, especially after eye problems which ruled me out of running for a couple of years and then the dreaded piriformis syndrome which nearly got the better of me this time.

The course is lovely – out and back along the beautiful coastline. Tom’s right to tell me the views will be great… except, of course, most of the time I’m too busy concentrating on the rhythm of my running to be aware of very much beyond that! The only changes I notice are turning and running back into the increasing wind and then, at about mile eight, getting absolutely drenched in a massive shower. I’m soaked through and rivulets of water are pouring in my eyes and down my face – and I feel ridiculously, stupidly happy.

Towards the finish line...
By mile eleven, my happiness levels start dropping and at mile twelve, when a friendly marshal encourages me with a cheery shout of ‘only another mile to go!’ I want to lie down and weep… but I don’t. Somehow, I dig in. I think of all the training I’ve put in; running early in the morning, running up hills, running in the cold and wet. I visualise the final stretch of my familiar training run and tell myself I can do this. And suddenly the finish line is within reach and I feel utterly euphoric! I’ve done it – and achieved a personal best of 2hrs 10minutes 18 seconds. Even better, Tom’s there to congratulate me, sharing my joy. What a moment!

Feeling a bit pleased with my gong!

My heartfelt thanks to the organisers of the Llanelli Waterside Half Marathon, Human Being Active, the volunteers and everyone involved for making it such a great, well-organised race.

I often see the parallels between writing and running since both involve long hours of solitary hard work – like now with a second round of edits upon me. However, it’s a great feeling when the hard work results in something tangible and I’m delighted and honoured that Honno Welsh Women’s Press have chosen one of my poems as Poem of the Month for March. You can read it here.

And after all that excitement – it’s head down and back to the edits!


17 comments:

Expat Runner said...

Congrats on your PB:) I agree that running and writing have a lot in common. I always find the final stretch of a race and a novel excruciating, even when the finish line is in sight!

Chris Stovell said...

Thank you! A PB really was the icing on the cake. I'm glad it's not just me on the final stretch - it's when my willpower is most sorely tested!

Jane Lovering said...

So, so pleased for you! I know how dispiriting it can be, running solo in all weathers, so maybe running the marathon was like publishing a book - a result after all the hours of hard work you put in. Congratulations on doing so well and getting such a great time - you are my inspiration as I plod (slowly) up and down the hill I live on, being outdistanced by the dogs and snails and things...

Chris Stovell said...

Thanks so much, Jane! However, you completely outsprint me on the writing front - I think you deserve a medal for writing two novels a year as well as holding down the day job. Well done, you.

Jan Brigden said...

Chris, you are an inspiration! Massive congratulations on such a great achievement. You can see the joy on your face in that final photo. A fab writer and a fab runner (and a fab person, of course!)Lovely post! :) xx

Chris Stovell said...

Awwww! Jan - how very kind of you. Thank you! x

Teresa said...

I understand this and do believe to be so. Then running - let's be honest is not a natural thing like walking as you push yourself harder (I loved when you mentioned the "just one mile to go" and wanted to lie and weep - it can be true when a story enters a dead end, I imagine) - it's like entering a world of your own; even among the crowd. The same as writing. Just you and your book, all the frustrations and dead ends. Running is, also, just you, your body and mind trying to agree on the final result.
What a lovely analogy!
Congratulations to reach the goal on both accounts,
Teresa

Chris Stovell said...

Teresa, thank you so much for your kind comment. It's very true that you are completely alone in both worlds, even when you're in the midst of other runners or, in the case of a novel, your characters. I suppose one difference is that after a race, you don't have to go back and repeat the miles that weren't perhaps quite so great... but with a novel your editor makes you take another close look at your weak points!

Chanpreet said...

Way to go Chris! I haven't run in a very long time but I haven't had any medical reasons to keep me from doing so. I'm hoping once the weather gets warmer here, I may be able to lace up and run again. Of course I've never run in any race, let alone a half marathon, but it would be nice to jog/run again.

Chris Stovell said...

Thanks, Chanpreet! I hope you do get out there again. I always think it's just a question of finding something you enjoy. Nothing else quite does it for me like running so I'm just so happy to be able to pick up where I left off.

Mandy K James said...

Congratulations again, Chris. And I agree with Jan. You are an inspiration and a thoroughly lovely person. I am proud to call you a friend xxx

Kath said...

I've said this already on FB but I do love that picture of you with your medal. You look so blooming happy! I'm not a runner and never will be, so I really admire you and your commitment to it - and can see the similarities between distance running and writing a book.

I think your poem is ace, too. Congrats on the win! I thought it was very evocative & it reminded me of cutting peat up on the Strath in Sutherland. Loved it.

Chris Stovell said...

Aw, bless you, our Mandy! It cuts both ways, you know!x

I really was, Kath... must have been all the endorphins or something. I'm so chuffed at your comments about the poem - poetry's special to me so it feels really good to have some work out there. Thank you.

Maggie Christie said...

A PB too! WOW! Wonderful and so well deserved after all that hard work. Were there times with your eye problem and the piriformis syndrome when you thought you'd never get a half marathon medal again? That's where I am now so I'm using you as inspiration. Maybe I'll get to do my fifth half marathon one day too.

Frances said...

Chris, it's grand to see this post, complete with the gorgeous photos of your happy face at the finish line. As I've told you before, I have never been a funner, and don't quite understand what motivates folks like you to put themselves through such challenges. However...I really admire all that you've done! All of us do have varying calls and abilities, and every time that one of us can achieve what we've dreamed of and worked towards...well...that's terrific.

Bravo!

I would also like to tell you how much I like your poem. As a city person, I admire your way of taking me to a place in which I have never lived. Somehow, your words gave me entry.

xo

Chris Stovell said...

Thanks, Mags - absolutely, I was really concerned that running would be come one of those things I 'used' to do. Going down with piriformis syndrome when I felt as I was really getting into my stride seemed particularly cruel, especially when I had to drop a whole month of training. It looks as if my base fitness (bearing in mind I carried on doing as much low impact exercise as possible) remained quite good and I thoroughly enjoyed the race so yes, I'm sure you'll be back to it and I look forwards to the pair of us lining up at the start of a Welsh half marathon!

Chris Stovell said...

Frances, it's so true what you say about each of us having different abilities. I derive huge pleasure admiring your skilful needlework...but there is no way in this world I could ever knit or crotchet or produce your elegant designs so I'm totally in awe of that. I also admire your eye for colour and the carefully composed photos on your blog which always remind me of our wonderful time in New York. And thank you for reading my poem too!x