Yes! We’re nearly there! Four down, one more to go!
And you know what, that wasn’t too bad either, as far as races go. I think. The event definitely wasn’t as busy as the one I went to in Surrey in the summer. On the contrary, the weather (sunshine exempt) was in stark contrast to the disgustingly baking sunshine from June. Today was cold, make no bones about it. Very. Damn. Cold. The sheer prospect of being able to wear extra layers when I picked up my Santa costume was possibly the only thing keeping my spirits up.
Until I actually put the costume on, that is.
I don’t really know what I expected, considering that events like this usually operate a “one size fits all” policy (NB: it’s a terrible policy, I might add, but sadly necessary for their budget, one would assume). I reckon I could’ve squeezed another person in the same outfit and made a very valid and token effort at still running the course. Nevertheless, I persevered by tucking the trousers into my underlayers and utilising the incredibly useful belt (*cough* sarcasm *cough*)
Trust me, the jacket barely even lasted the warmup lest of all the first obstacle. To call it a “belt” would require extreme elastication of the imagination and I’m not even surely Stretch Armstrong’s frame would cope. I believe my outfit starting coming off in the following stages:
50m: the beard – I think I was having an allergic reaction to the fabric and it kept getting in my mouth. Gross
100m: the belt – seriously, I would loved to have tied it tighter but the cheap plastic just snapped
400m: the jacket – I had to haul it off my arms and tie it around my body just so I didn’t lose it. Gratuitously oversized doesn’t even begin to cover it
Thankfully the trousers stayed firmly tucked into my underlayers and the hat was so tight on my head that it became conceptually miraculous that I didn’t lose circulation to my cranium. I figured the very least I could do would be to keep the hat on to absorb at least a little Christmas spirit for the occasion.
Alas, I made the best of my situation and fumbled my way around a course full of very familiar obstacles. Unlike Surrey, Brighton’s Inflatable course insisted on implementing a few of what I currently consider to be Nature’s less attractive features; hills. Not quite as vertically challenging as the Hellrunner ones, but long, sweeping gradient hills to which being able to see the end of the hill doesn’t fill you with motivation when you can also see how far away it actually is on the horizon.
Also unlike Surrey, the end of the course only had one obstacle – in this case it was the vertical jump as opposed to the humongous slide; a shame as I was thoroughly looking forward to trying the slide now that I had slide-friendly clothes on. Also, the older I get, the more acrophobic I become. I’ve never quite understood why this is either, but I think it’s the fear of the landing more than the actual height itself. And the fact that I had to do this twice didn’t actually make it any easier either.
The idea is that you’re supposed to land on your backside which psychologically goes against everything my body wishes to do. I also have this bizarre fear that I’m going to over-jump the landing zone and, you guessed it, screw up my landing, so much so that the second time I jumped it actually became more of a fall off the edge and I landed right at the back of the mat, falling back into the wall of the inflatable. Horrendous. I never thought that an inflatable object could harness such fear within me, but I guess my horrifying experience at Cadbury World as a youth has truly scarred me for life.
Still, I did it. I had to walk some of it, my feet and ankles ached and I yearned for better running shoes but I did it. I crossed the finish line around the 1 hour 10 minute mark and you know what? I’m happy with that. I don’t care what anybody says. I’m not a distance runner. Not by any stretch. My original goal coming into this was actually 80minutes (37:43 minute split per 5k) and I surpassed that comprehensively.
I don’t quite know my specific split times for each 5k, but as you can see I finished the first three miles in 31:42ish and if memory serves me I seem to think I went through the start line for lap two around the 33-34 minute mark which would make my splits around 34:36 or 33:37 which is pretty good going for me – especially given the queues for some obstacles. The truth is, I can only get better by running more often. It’s as simple as that.
I didn’t really look at the route I had set myself for my journey home so ended up taking a slightly more traffic-heavy route along the actual seafront of Brighton. I absolutely did the touristy thing and pulled over to get a panoramic picture of the coastline.
I also snapped a very crappy photograph of Brighton Pier (I think) but it was a beautiful sunny day and I have no regrets. If I had been better dressed or brought a change of clothes perhaps I would’ve been tempted to explore more of Brighton but I’ll save those adventures for next summer perhaps, when the temperature isn’t 3 degrees.
So for now, it’s four down and one to go. The big one awaits but hopefully I will have acquired some flashy new sneakers by then and I’ll be tearing up the pavements like there’s no tomorrow. Until then I can revel in running the Inflatable event and actually earning the correct medal this time.