The rain was pouring and the wind was howling, and as I set off this morning I did wonder why on earth I was going to this race. What a contrast to last week in so many ways. The race was about 25 minutes away, and there was no traffic, and lovely clear signposts to the car park, which was right by the start.
I arrived about 40 minutes before the start, so I ran out of the car to pick up my race number and timer chip, and then ran back to the car to shelter from the rain until the last possible moment.
View from the car- does not really show just how much it was raining!
With 5 minutes to go, I walked over to the start to listen to the announcements. I love races like this- it was organised by a local running club, to raise money for the Herts Air Ambulance. I love that the car park was right by the start, the person on the tannoy was so friendly. I have also never seen so many marshals before. They warned us that most of the run was off road (uh-oh- I had some flashbacks of when I did the Autumn challenge which I thought would be 5 road miles but ended up being cross country…), to watch out for tree roots, that some of the mud was very slippery, to not fall in the river (and if we did, be aware it contains Weils’ disease) and also there is a cow on the towpath. Lots to remember.
Then we were off!
I had decided to keep my waterproof jacket on as it was quite cold too, and that turned out to be fine. I knew I could tie it around my waist if I got too hot, but that didn’t happen!
My tennis visor was as low to my face as I could take, trying to keep the rain off my glasses (seriously, people without glasses do not know how annoying water covered ones are)- I had tissues in my pocket to wipe them with, although they got wet too.
Last week at the 10 mile mark I looked at my watch to gauge the time I should aim for this week, as the only time I have run a 10 mile race was the Great South Run (which was not so great…)- I did that in 1.49 something so I knew I should beat that. Anyway last weekend it was 1.42 something, so I wanted to aim for 10 minute miles and see how I got on.
The race began around a field (slippery long grass, mud), then was two loops, before coming back to the field again. The first half of each loop was tough- especially the first lap as it was very congested. They had painted the tree roots bright red- what great preparation! But some bits the mud was so deep and squelchy (we can’t go over, we can’t go under it, oh no, we’ve got to go through it, squelch squerch squelch squerch)- I had to stop and walk/ clamber up some bits while holding on to the fence. My shoes are not off road in the slightest!
We then ran through some residential streets- some very steep uphill bits, then lovely downhills with speedbumps. All the marshals were so cheerful- shouting everyone on, telling us to watch out for the speed humps, telling us how good we looked (yeah, totally). I didn’t look at my Garmin at all and just tried to run on feel- in my head the 10 minute mile thing had long gone as the terrain was tough- at one point I said to a marshal that I could do with ski poles to keep upright- the mud was awful and I was just trying to stay upright.
The second half of the loop was much nicer- flatter, but also more picturesque- along by a river, through some parks/fields, and along a tow path. I saw people playing football, people kayaking (there is always someone wetter than you), people cycling and walking.
Some of the tow path was good to run on and I felt like I got into a good rhythm- But some was tough as there were huge puddles- at one point it was ankle deep so I clambered over a wall instead. You had to concentrate to avoid the huge puddles- I had trodden in one just past mile 2 (just 3/4 of the race to go…) so had squelchy shoes and cold wet feet, but I didn’t want to make it any worse.
Then I saw the cow! I thought it would be long gone by the time I got there- there was a marshal stood by it who said “keep moooving”- get it? It was only later when I thought of the reply “how amoosing”- too late!
We had to run over a bridge, and then we were back to start the second lap- and I had not got lapped by any of the front runners. Hooray!
The second lap felt better, although the first half again was tough with those hills- I was tired by that point, and getting pretty cold and damp.
For the final stretch along the flatter fields and tow paths I decided to try and overtake people, and I managed quite a few (and the cow was still there!). One lot of people (maybe 4 of them?) overtook me back while I was deciding which way to go around a huge puddle, but then they stopped to walk up the bridge on the final stretch.
Andy had said he might come and watch, although I didn’t think he would as standing around in this weather is even worse than running in it. As I ran into the field there was a 400m to go sign, and a big group of people cheering, but he wasn’t there. Fair enough I thought, and managed to overtake 2 more people.
But then I came around the corner and saw him! He even snapped a photo.
The rain had eased right off then.
The clock said 1.41 something, so I am really pleased. I did have a chip so shall wait for my official time, but it is a pb anyway 🙂
EDIT– chip time was 1.40.58 🙂
There were people to cut the timer chips off your laces (love this because my hamstrings do not like bending down right after I have stopped running, plus my fingers were very cold), water right there, and attractive technical running t-shirts. Embarrassingly as I crossed the line a man lifted his arm to indicate where I should go, and I went to high five him- I did explain “sorry- everyone is so friendly here and I thought you were going to high five me”- turned out Andy saw this too so I can’t pretend it didn’t happen!
No small ones left, of course (unisex sizes)- I need to run a lot faster to get one! But it can go over a long sleeved top- it is the right colour for winter running anyway. It only cost £17 to enter so was a right bargain. A shame about the weather but seriously I have never seen that many marshals, and they were all so enthusiastic and friendly.
I saw a couple of runners from the Sweatshop group, so chatted to them for a few minutes, but then headed back to the car. I was freezing. My top (underneath my jacket) was damp, I think from sweat but also I think water was running in from the neckline. I usually hate even shared changing rooms but I was so cold I took my running top off in the car park and put on a warmer top, then my coat, to drive home in. I had the heating up in the car, but my running tights were soaked so just cold, and my wet hair was dripping water all over me too. Cold cold cold.
Andy was home a bit before me and put the kettle on, so by the time I was out the shower I had tea waiting for me. Perfect.
I spent the rest of the afternoon foam rolling in front of Strictly, and then round to Andy’s parent’s for dinner. Fab.
How did you spend this rainy Sunday? Anyone else feel like sharing an embarrassing moment? Go on, you will make me feel better!