Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Part 1: The Malta Half Marathon (or, the Running Gods have the last laugh)

Bassman and I left for Malta on the 20th, with me possessed of optimistic expectations for the race on the 23rd.  My training had gone well, with no injuries, only minor niggles, and a successful 13-mile run only two weeks previously.  Yes, I had come down with a stonking cold the week before we left but hey, that was a taper week anyway so there wasn't anything to be lost by missing out on a few runs.  And although I was still fairly sniffly by the time we left for the airport, it was clear that I was in the last stages of the cold and that it wouldn't be a problem come race day.  All that was left was to relax, enjoy the Maltese sunshine, and have a fun run.

Ah, the best laid plans...

We overnighted at one of the large, anonymous, but relatively comfortable hotels at Gatwick airport and arrived in Malta at noon on the 21st.  After a wild taxi ride to our hotel (the Pebbles Boutique Aparthotel) - everyone drives in their own bubble and acts as though they are the only car on the road but, somehow, it seems to work - we were pleasantly surprised to find that we had been upgraded from the studio flat that I had originally booked to a 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom flat with a balcony that overlooked the harbour.  It was perfect, aside from the raucous laughter and karaoke that pumped out of the restaurant/nightclub on the ground floor until 2am most nights.  But I always travel with my trusty earplugs, so even being above Party Central wasn't enough to daunt my optimism.

Bassman has written about our touristy activities on his blog, so anyone who is interested can read about them there.  Instead, I am going to move on to the night before the race.  WARNING:  If you have an aversion to hearing about bodily functions, you might want to read the next bit with one eye closed.

We had had huge pizzas for dinner (I couldn't finish mine, which should tell you something about how huge it was) and I was feeling uncomfortably full, even a bit unwell, when we went to bed.  I woke up at 2am feeling REALLY unwell - nauseated and stomach and intestinal cramps - and spent the next four hours tossing and turning, but telling myself that this was just a reaction to having eaten too much.  At 5:45am - an hour before the alarm was due to go off - I flung myself from the bed and barely made to the loo in time.  Oh my.  As Bassman so delicately put it in his blog, evacuations from both ends.  Big time.

In between trips to the loo, I carried on with my race preparations just in case this was something that would work itself out of my system in the next hour.  I tried to eat a bit of banana, but that came straight back up.  I tried to drink a bit of water - same reaction.  No way was I going to try the porridge!  Instead, in my (with hindsight) dehydrated, feverish, and ILL state, I decided that I would take four energy gels with me instead of the two that I had planned - because these would of course make up for the complete lack of food in my body - as well as an energy bar and some sport jelly beans.  No, I don't know what I was thinking, either.

At 7:30am, I tried to get out the door but had to detour into the loo at the last minute.  Fortunately, by this point, the diarrhea had pretty much finished (mainly because there wasn't anything left to be gotten rid of) and I decided that I wasn't feeling too bad, so I tucked a 20 Euro note into my SpiBelt just in case I had to get a taxi back to the flat and scuttled off to the bus.  After a twisty, turny, bumpy ride to the start in Mdina, I was feeling well enough to sip and keep down some water.  I tried a nibble of the energy bar but that CLEARLY was not a good idea.  However, although I felt queasy and crampy and light headed, I wasn't in urgent need of the facilities.  Maybe the worst had passed and now, as they say, adrenaline would carry me around the course.

Ah, the best laid plans indeed...


  1. I was worried given the warning but it was a very dignified description! I am surprised you left to try given how you were feeling.

  2. Stubborn? Determined? Hard as nails? Or just dehydrated and feverish and in denial? Take your pick!