Week 52: Church to The Finish Line

Christmas Day

img_6193So this day just crept up on me. With all the excitement of the massive weeks preceding it, getting to the end of another busy term in Bath, travelling home to Yorkshire and then on to Scotland for Christmas The Finish Line is right in front of me. I couldn’t be happier to have been joined today by Neil Martin. Neil and I are technically brothers-in-law but our bromance goes way back, before the Hustler-Wraight sisters came on the scene. Neil’s been injured for most of the year but with no time left to postpone, today he bit the bullet and came out to run with me.

Besides being the last of 52 1/2 marathons this year, this run had some sentimental
img_0065locations along the way. The start point was St Michael’s Church in Elie, Fife where Katie and I got married on a boiling hot summer’s day in 2011. It’s a beautiful tiny-tin-shack of a church tucked in besides the houses just a stones throw from a sandy beach and the natural harbour of Elie. Neil and I were mentioned in the Christmas Day announcements and the congregation wa whopping £90 to send us off. We stripped out of our Sunday Best, paused for some photos and headed out along the headland into a brutal headwind towards Lower Largo. The route IMG_0497.JPGwas stunning. Sandy paths through forests, skirting the estuary down towards the bellowing North Sea. We skipped along the narrow track in single file the wind blowing straight in from the choppy sea forcing the
thick grass flat all around us. Absolutely epic. It was the type of conditions that leave your face numb and your ears ringing when you find shelter. The back half of the run was thankfully more protected from the wind but nowhere near as scenic. As we hit tarmac the pace was good, Neil stretched his legs but I was struggling to find any rhythm whatsoever. As we turned the corner at 9 miles the road ramped up and the first half of the run just smacked Neil right in the face. It would later transpire he’d been managing blisters since the first few miles. Heavy legged we both just kept moving towards the finish line. The run finished at Margaret and David’s home, the venue of Katie and my wedding reception.


As we limped up the track to the house the last few hundred metres of the year weren’t without the usual discomfort or complication. As we reached the house we were still 0.3 miles short of 13.1. We headed back out, away from the house. The Welcome Party would have to wait. The last 500m is always the easiest. It’s just so close to the end you can just burn everything to get to the finish line. And so here it was 0.3 miles to go to finish 681.2 miles of 1/2 marathons in 2016. Not sure I can describe my emotions. Some concoction of pride, relief, fatigue and probably a twinge of sadness that it’s done. The prospect of a marathon next weekend certainly numbs any emotional extremes of satisfaction just yet. But for now, it was a special day to finish the challenge surrounded by family running with The Butcher by my side. Can think of worse ways to spend Christmas Day!

 

 

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