So, the day which had been filling me with nerves & getting into my dreams, finally dawned on Sunday 16th November. Hellrunner time. Fourth half marathon in fourteen month, only with a bit more of a twist than the last three. Running through bogs, up and down sand dunes and away from roads, on a military training base where signs heralded, 'Caution: Military firing range...If you see a military object, do not step on it, it will explode.' Or something along those lines.
There was a wonderful atmosphere about the setting - aside from the guy bellowing down a microphone, 'You asked for hell - we're giving you hell!!!' Well, not exactly, but ok. It was a much smaller affair than the big city marathons, which I loved. Fireworks went off as the starting gun fired, along with a whole lot of wooping from runners & supporters alike.
In all honesty, it was the most fun run I have ever done. While it was lovely to have lots of supporters along the whole route running in Bath & Bristol, it was actually quite nice to be running alongside fellow runners but away from the crowds. It's amazing once you get into deep conversation how quickly 12 miles can go.
The bogs were a highly comical experience. There really is no way you can run through murky stinking water that comes up to your shoulders, so you just wade on through, trying not to trip over branches that lie in wait unsuspectingly underfoot. So I looked quite a sight, emerging from the stinking swamp, with just the tops of my shoulders showing the true gleaming white colour of my t-shirt, and the rest of me rather blackened. Beautiful.
After finishing the run, we made our way to a very lovely pub nearby - the Jolly Farmer - for some much needed grub. They served the fattest sausages I have ever eaten. (Other than the sausages the children have been making at school this week with playdough, though I hasten to add that I have not eaten those ones.) With contented bellies & slightly weary bodies, we made our way back to Bristol, and had (though I can only speak for myself) the best night's sleep in a long time. Good times.