So finally, and for the first time since October 2011, I found myself on Saturday morning standing on a start line preparing myself for running in the same direction as a number of other folk in the name of….? Well for me fitness mostly; but (perversely) a bit of enjoyment as well.
This was quite a different event to previous outings. Although shorter (10km as opposed to the 10 miles or half marathons that I’ve previously run) the circuit was around some forest trails rather then on the streets of Tyneside, Hastings or Portsmouth. Conditions we’re nasty too. It was cold, wet and windy and quite muddy underfoot. But hey, this would be fun!
It was also an earlier start. A 9am gun time meant being up at 6am for a light breakfast, drive the 20 miles to Bedgebury Pinetum, and get set to go. After the obligatory mass warm up (which I hate as it exposes my lack of coordination to the general public) we were off.
The course was quite mixed and, its fair to say, quite different to running along Hastings Prom. The first 1k was up a fair incline and slow going as people of varying paces worked out their relative places in the pack. I was content enough seeing the proper athletes head into the distance whilst still managing to overtake quite a number of people as I got up to speed.
The course comprised a 7k loop with a 1.5k spur at the start and finish. As the course broke onto the loop it was nice to start heading downhill and to be able to make some time back on the first slow stretch; however I couldn’t help but notice that the return leg of the loop could be seen rising quite high the other direction.
However for now I had quite a few fairly idyllic km ahead of me. Although quite undulating the general direction was downhill, the track was mostly in good condition with just a few properly muddy patches and despite the intermittent rain I was enjoying myself. I got into a good rhythm and settled nicely in with a few others of similar pace. I wasn’t exactly racing away but from 2k to 6k was at a good speed. If I could keep this up I might be pushing to aim for 50 minutes, and would certainly be well inside 55 min
And then as we reached the turn in the loop the hill reversed also.
From that point to the 9km mark the it was all very much an uphill struggle! The track go muddier, at one point we had to clamber under a gate (or run around the side through a huge deep puddle). I wasn’t the only one struggling. I did have to break and walk for a few short bursts (never more than 100 yards) just to give my legs a brief respite. Most of the people in my group we’re doing the same. We we’re all
encouraging each other on with a group of three of us in particular seeming to take it turns to stop for a bit, get egged on by the others as they passed us before they then took turns to break. Thus it was that we kept going until we joined the start/finish spur, went past the 9k mark and entered the final downhill stretch.
By this point the 50 minutes had already passed and I’d have needed a helicopter to make it inside 55. I was already resigned to being outside the hour mark which was a big disappointment but probably not surprising as the last few weeks training had not been great.
As the downhill got a bit steeper however, I decided to go for it. Maybe I could beat the hour yet? At least I’d damn well get as close to it as possible. And so despite the them burning quite well by now I managed to turn up the pace and open out the legs. Where was that finish line? It was hiding somewhere in these trees. Surely I’d see it soon? How about now? And now? Ah there it is, and not too far – just
hiding around a corner. Really open up. Sprint finish. Over the timing mat. Stop the watch….
59.50. Get in. A slower time than I’d hoped for but much better than I thought I’d manage from the 8k mark. So that’ll do me for now. Think I’ll find another 10k race in a few months time and see how I can do then.
At the time of writing I’ve managed to raise £90 for the British Heart Foundation which has also well beaten my target so all in all a good result. Thanks very much to those of you who sponsored me.
Also thanks to Nash for once again getting up early so she could stand around in the cold and wetvIn a muddy wood. Your support is always greatly appreciated.