They do love advertising this as “the lolly run” as you get an ice lolly at the end.
Now, I don’t want to sound like a sandbagger (and you will see from my time, I am not one) but I knew my training hadn’t been perfect. I was gradually building up my long runs after Brighton, and a month ago did 12 miles. But then I had a holiday, so missed two weekends of longer runs, and then last weekend did the 10K stampede, so no long run that weekend either. I did manage 8 miles on Tuesday, but I knew I was not in pb form.
I was aiming to meet my course best, of 2.10.09- set in 2013, so I looked up the pacing and tried to keep the number in my mind. It was 9 something miles- helpful.
Anyway, added to the usual pre race nerves, I had a new car to drive which I had picked up on Saturday. I had my last car for 12 1/2 years, and so getting used to the new gears and things was adding to my stress. Not perfect timing! Anyway, I drove to a town centre car park and the walked down the hill with all the other runners. Some other runners asked me for directions so I chatted to them as I walked down the hill, which helped to keep my mind off the miles ahead. The race is pretty well organised, but for some reason the bag drop queue was immense- I was in it for 25 minutes! I had 5 minutes after that to get to a starter pen, although they the announced they would delay the start by 10 minutes.
I was so cold! It was drizzling, and a bit windy, so although good conditions for running, not good for standing about and waiting. I’d only packed my long sleeved top for the finish, but wore it until I had to sort my bag for the drop.
The course goes through the park, up a hill to a golf course (at this point there was the first water station, with a Hawaiian theme- they all had flower leis and grass skirts!), before going back down, past the end of the park, and then up a long hill. In fact, up and down is the theme here. I never think it is too bad (I have run both Berkhamsted and Ashridge which are both way hillier) but it is not a flat course, and some of the hills are particularly steep.
I was doing OK, and got to the half way mat in 1.04, but then I just struggled a bit. I have had a bit of a cold, so I had to stop and get tissues out of my waist pack thing. The drizzle stopped and then it seemed to get so muggy- I felt like the sweat was just staying on my face and not coming off at all. I stopped at the final two water stations to have a proper drink- one of these was on a hill so I walked up that one instead of running. In the end I wanted to enjoy it, so I didn’t mind walking for a bit. I had a few jelly beans too, but they made my stomach ache right away, so only had about 4.
I never have any idea where I am in the lanes, so tried to enjoy the views of the countryside. I passed a few of the walkers (the walking half marathon set off at 8.30am so the speed walkers finished just after the runners started). Just after 11 miles (or maybe 12) we came out at the top of one of the biggest hills- I knew were we were! Just run down this hill (much more enjoyable than running up it at around mile 3), double back, run up a bit, into the park, and head for the finish.
Andy was waiting near the finish line and I managed a wave before heading under the archway to receive my medal and lemon ice lolly. My mouth was so hot that when I first tried to lick it, my tongue and lips kept sticking to the lolly and I had to peel them off with my hands! Not good. I had packed a nuun tab in my pocket, so added that to the water, collected my t-shirt (a gorgeous purple technical top) and then headed to the bag drop.
I didn’t have high hopes, but while I was waiting in the line someone brought my bag out to be- much better! Then I changed, used a face wipe and met up with Andy, before walking up the hill (that was tough) into town.
My watch said 2.11, and Strava agrees, saying 2.11.03 (although moving time was 2.08 something- I am not sure why that is so different). Not quite what I was aiming for, but close. My chip time was 2:11.03, so only a minute slower than the last time (probably due to walking in the water stops near the end). I am pretty pleased with that.
I love the t-shirt! I don’t normally wear purple but I would for running in.
After getting into town I fancied a warm drink, and while I was in the queue a lady behind me complimented my hair (I sort of french plait my fringe out of my eyes on one side), and then asked me if I had done a marathon (I was wearing the medal and top)- I told her I had run Brighton earlier in the year, and her first question was my favourite- how long is it? The same as London?
It’s funny, while I was running I did enjoy it, but the middle part is fairly hilly and I was thinking that I have run it 3 times now, and perhaps that is enough. But of course, as soon as I finished I was thinking about the good things- it’s so local, it is quite pretty, and now the t-shirt is technical it is better value (they introduced that last year, so the other times I ran I got a big old cotton one).
Will I sign up for it next year? I am not sure!
What are you favourite questions that non-runners ask you?
Would you be tempted to sign up for a walking half marathon?