Well, my legs are starting to recover from Sunday so here is a bit more detail about the run.
As I said previously I don’t think I did quite as many long runs prior to the HM as I would have liked, but running the hills round here did have some benefits !
If I’m honest the hills weren’t quite as bad as I had thought….. but some of them just seemed to go on forever…
I was conscious that I didn’t want to start out too fast. It is always very easy to get carried away and run the first couple of miles far faster than intended and run out of juice later in the race… so I followed my normal plan and started near the back of the field. I’m also not the fastest runner around and don’t want to get crushed by the pack.. this race was chip timed so it really didn’t matter that it took me a minute or so to cross the start line. I started my Garmin when the gun went so that is also a few minutes out..
I have included the Garmin data at the bottom of this post, as you can see it is either uphill or downhill with nothing on the flat…..
The first and last couple of miles were along the A24… not my favourite part of the run but only gently undulating, something I was quite grateful for towards the end of the race. After running alongside the A24 we turned in to Norbury Park and then I saw the line of runners ahead snaking uphill…. and the hill just seemed to go on and on….. It was on this hill that I met the runner that I crossed the line just behind… we were overtaking people going uphill and I offered to let him past first (I thought he would be faster than me..) but he let me go through and followed me up the hill. For the rest of the race I seemed to overtake him uphill and he passed me again on the way down… I finally caught up with him just before the finish and we had a sprint finish, he crossed the line just ahead of me and then turned and shook my hand; this is why I like running….
Anyway, back to the main race.. I decided to carry my own water with me even though I knew there would be five water stops… I guess it is my comfort blanket.. I’m quite glad I did because it was so nice to be able to have a drink when I got to the top of the hills, just a few sips but enough to take that dry, dusty taste out of your mouth. I did also stop at the water stops and WALK while drinking; I still havent managed to master the art of drinking adequately from a cup whilst running and personally I think getting adequate water was worth the few seconds I lost by walking.
I did walk some bits of the hills (you will be able to see where on the details below) two days later I am beginning to think I could have pushed harder uphill than I did but at the time I didn’t know how much more hill I had to go up !
Running this race did make me realise how much I enjoy running on trails compared to roads and I think where possible I will keep my racing off road.. (this is coming from the person who is planning on running her first, and possibly last, marathon on the roads..)
About half way I had a gel at one of the water stations, this isn’t something I normally do but I was aware that I had been running faster than planned for the first few miles to make sure I had a few minutes “in the bank” and I thought I may need the added oomph.. I hadn’t tried this make of gel before and was aware of the advice of never try anything new in a race but ignored that and took it anyway. This has to be my least favourite gel that I have had to date… at least I know now before I start marathon training in earnest not to buy this particular make..
During the race I kept an eye on my time per mile but didn’t look at the elapsed time. I knew that to achieve a time of 2:15 I needed an average pace of 10:18 per mile. I also knew that this race had hills and that I am slower uphill, I also know that on very steep downhill sections I’m also a bit slower so when possible tried to run faster than my average pace on the easier sections to compensate for the hills. I took a conscious decision not to look at the elapsed time for two reasons, the first that if I could see that I wasn’t going to achieve my target I may stop trying… the second that if I knew I was inside my target time I may slow up a bit and stop trying…. so this way I wasn’t sure how close it was going to be so I kept pushing right to the end.
I knew that I would be close to the 2:15 target but I had no idea that I had beaten it by quite such a margin until I saw the finish gantry. I cannot explain quite how I felt, but the word WOW just kept going through my head. Suddenly the feeling knackered, painful legs and aching lungs seemed to vanish.
I had my tag cut off my trainers, collected my beer, chocolate, t-shirt and training diary… and then finally remembered to stop my Garmin…. I then took the time to stretch, drink lots of water and eat the chocolate.
At the finish I met up with another woman that I had been chatting to at the start of the race and compared notes.
Would I do it again, yes, unfortunately it looks as though next years race will clash with work commitments but it is one I hope to run again in the future.
My chip time was 2:08:34 – a new personal best 🙂