Early in January, my boyfriend suggested nonchalantly, “Fancy a 10 miler in Lytham, end of Jan?” In my naivety at the RED January challenge I had set myself of 5k a day, I eagerly said yes. I won’t be that tired of running, I love running I thought. It’ll be nice to visit Lytham as I had never been. Ooo fish and chips and fresh January sea air…it will be lovely!
As the day grew closer, I repeatedly got told how “bloody windy” it was going to be and that “even though it says 6 degrees, with the gusts it’ll basically be freezing “ and defeat any chance of the desired PBs we both had for the distance. We still donned extra layers, buffs and hot flasks and headed up to the seaside. Oh my, was it windy?! We headed to collect our numbers and questioned that if it was so hard to walk, how the heck would we be able to run into this wind?! With our numbers we were given our complimentary burgundy sweatshirt (past years have been yellow, i was glad it was not as bright!). I noticed from the start list, I was the sole representative from Prestwich but there were two RAC runners so didn’t feel too far from home!
Numbers attached, hoodies reluctantly removed, we headed down to the start. I received an impromptu face exfoliation thanks to the wind picking up the sand. But the race director started with the complicated directions whilst we huddled like penguins….then there was a quick 3,2,1 and we were off into the wind for 150m before turning round and heading 5 miles towards the windmill. With the wind behind us, the race felt like a good challenge, tried to stick to my pace of around 8.15s. The boyfriend had quickly gone off into the distance at 7min miles, so with headphones banned, I got stuck in to try and get a good first half in. Then my injury came back, 3 miles in. I had to walk. I couldn’t risk running through it right before I start marathon training. Couple of minutes of walking, I was back on it. We were heading away from the direct sea front, sheltered by some lovely houses, but not for long, we were coming up to the 4 mile mark and then we were back on the sea front with the infamous windmill in sight. Wind still behind me, I saw the boyfriend battling the oncoming wind on his way back. “Bit windy ain’t it?!” He bellowed as he sprinted past. Wow, that looks like it’s going to be fun. Fun it was not. I collected my half way point water, did the little loop they had set up to make sure the route covered the distance, and braced myself for the now oncoming wind.
The next 5 miles were some of the hardest miles I have ever ran. I would go on to stop and walk at least 4 times, whilst cursing Mother Nature. Every time I lifted my foot it took all my strength to go forward and not left towards the sea. It felt like a losing battle, I was convinced I was running on the spot, or even attached to a bungee rope. But I persevered as I knew the shelter of the houses was coming up, however it was short lived and the final 2 miles were relentless headwinds. The closer you got to the end the harder it was. The gusts were picking up and the sand was back, along with sharp salty sea air. “Be careful of pedestrians and dogs on the final stretch” the final marshal shouted as we u-turned back the final 150m. I couldn’t see thanks to the low winter sun, I couldn’t control my speed or my legs thanks to the 50mph gust now behind me whisking off to the finish (or Oz, I wasn’t sure at this point!) so looking out for pedestrians was the least of my worries. I just wanted this damn race to be over. Finally I was over the low budget start/finish line with a multi coloured medal in my hand. I was greeted by a very cold boyfriend who had been waiting 15 minutes for me to finish as I had the car key! We walked as fast as we could back to the car…and found the nearest fish and chip restaurant for their all day special. Race done, homeward bound!