What does one do to celebrate a birthday? A long lie in followed by a leisurely day of pampering? That sounds nice, but a bit conventional. I booked a race. Races on a Saturday normally mean missing parkrun - but as a birthday treat this race started at the same place as Kingston parkrun and the timings worked out.
I ran the Thames Meander Half last year in glorious sunshine. I went home with tan lines. Today it is safe to say that sunglasses were not necessary. I managed to keep my feet relatively dry during the parkrun by playing dodge the puddles. It was lovely to chat with people I haven't seen for a long time, and with people I'd not met before, and it didn't rain too much.
There was then an hour to wait before the start of the half marathon. I chatted with friends, watched the marathon runners set off and nervously eyed the dark clouds. And then we were off. The route, in my memory, was mainly on tarmac paths. Which shows how useless my memory is! It was muddy and puddly for much of the way with quite a lot of uneven ground underfoot. And it was raining, and windy - really windy!
I caught up with a friend who was running the marathon when I got to about 2.5 miles and ran with her for a while. Lovely to chat with her - she is such a supportive and wonderful person. Just before the turn around point for the half I bumped into one of the guys I ran with for much of The Cakeathon. It rained a lot on that day too. I may just check entry lists in future and only run races he has entered if it is in a drought ridden area - say New South Wales or California! Seeing friendly faces does make such a difference when the weather is miserable and the pub seems infinitely more inviting than running the next few miles. And boy, the weather was miserable at times. The wind managed to be in our faces on the way out and back. The poor people manning the aid stations must have been so miserable.
My quad was playing up from the start, so I didn't push too hard - it was my birthday after all! I crossed the line soaked to the skin - I had cleverly brought a complete change of clothes, but stupidly left spare shoes at home. Putting wet trainers on is not fun! I was very glad to finish and retreat to the pub for a pint and fish and chips with friends.
An emergency purchase of new running shoes followed and now all is right with the world!