241.40 is not a nice round number. And I like nice round numbers.
To make my 250 would entail me running my longest run of the month on the last day. But hell. I like a challenge. If I didn't, I wouldn't have been involved in this crazy shenanigans in the first place.
I got in from work, ignored the maps, chucked a couple of things in my pack and went out. To paraphrase Laurence Oates, I was planning to be some time. Trotting up the road feeling those familiar little creaks that showed that I'd been somewhat abusing myself for a month actually made me smile. After tonight, we can rest, tonight we run. More than once the Douglas Adams-isms about flight and inverse confidence came to mind*, and I trotted onwards towards Cookridge and Holt Park with a vague plan in mind.
The first part of that plan was actually a quick stop. Holt Park has one redeeming feature, to the post-work runner, and that is a clean and functional public toilet. I went about my business, and then trotted out again, much to the bemusement of the chavs and little old ladies who tend to frequent Holt Park Asda of an evening. From there, down the road once more and left across Cookridge golf course, round the edge of Breary Marsh and 'Paul's Pond' (Don't ask me, that's what the new, shiny-looking signpost said) and out onto the Otley Road by the Ramada hotel, scene of the commencement of an earlier run this month. The tracker said 7.72km, which raised a grin, because I knew from here via the MVT home was about 9km, a good starter for ten.
The trail went on, and I actually felt good. Really good. Those endorphins do wonders sometimes, don't they? Along the road from the edge of Golden Acre, up through a chunk of woodland on a footpath I'd seen on the map but never been on (Was very nice. Woody singletrack is fun, whether on foot or bike) and back down the road, blocking another few kms into the route. Up the road once more, to above the Adel jumps - thanks to the BMW driver who actually slowed to sit behind me as I jogged to the top of the small-crest-with-blind-corner and waited for me to wave him past, no thanks to the dozen-or-so idiots who seem to think that, despite the headlamp and hi-vis, it's still okay to leave your lights on full beam when driving towards a runner - and right into the woods once more.
Through the MVT, and down towards the cricket club, checking the Sat Tracker and feeling the urge to call home: "You know that 10km I was going to do? Well, I'm past 12 and I'm still miles from home. Oh well" and up and across the North Leeds Moors, dropping down to the top of Seven Arches, then along the 'outlap' trail, over the fallen tree and through Speeder Chase back to the ring road. Across and up and down the Horse Climb and check the tracker again and it says 16km. Hmmm...
I feel good. I've still got the legs. I've still got the lungs, the heart. I've still got the head. Home, quick pitstop, then we're going for it.
Up to the ring road once more, and up, the Pyro Plod in full force. Through the Hollies, up the hill, across Oxley and home. Pause the tracker at 18.9km. Change shirt for a clean, dry, merino top. change Buff for fleece beany, neck a glass of water, then out again, not far now. A half marathon finish is very much on. Back to Beckett's, for the nth time this month, around the edge of the courts and through the turnstil and past te monument and into the dark snickleways and back onto Kepstorn Road and we're HOME!
22.19km / 13.79 miles in 2:49:04. My first ever half-marathon run, and I still feel strangely good. Runners high? Perhaps. But certainly a night to remember.
I finish Janathon with:
- A total mileage haul of 251.36 km / 156.19 miles.
- A total of 33 hours, 42 minutes of running time.
- An average pace of 7:55 mins/km, with a standard deviation (pace) of 01:19 - not bad, given the variability of run lengths, aims, speeds and terrains involved this month.
- 7 mileage targets beaten, at varying intervals.
- A weekly average of 50km per week for 5 weeks (even if I run no more this week!)
None of this would have been possible without al the support I've had from friends, family and complete strangers who've posted on my blog, encouraged me, abused me on Facebook and occasionally just gone "You're doing what? Are you nuts?" Tonight's run is dedicated especially to this latter category. Yes, there's a good chance I am nuts, but I've got a solid pair of legs and a decent heart and lungs, even if the brain's a bit shot. To everyone else, I hope you enjoyed the ride
Lastly, this would never have been possible without Cathy White organising the challenge, the guys from TalkTalk and Audiofuel for backing it, and the myriad of wonderful people who got involved and puttered, strolled, bimbled, sauntered and occasionally legged it through January themselves. Thank you so much, all of you.
And now, the fat bloke has finally sung. Goodnight all, and thanks.
*For those who are not avid fans of The Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy the two quotes in question are:
1) There's a knack to flying. You have to be able to throw yourself at the ground, and miss.
2) It's not knowing you can do it. It's being ignorant of the fact you can't..