So, on Monday I had a race planned with my dad. He has been going to parkrun for a few years now, and used to run further when he was younger. He mentioned to me that he was keen to try a longer distance- perhaps a 10k this year, and work up to a half marathon if his knee was OK. A 5 mile trail race popped up on a facebook running group, and so I mentioned it to him, as so far all the races I have sent his way has been while he is away with work or on holiday. So we both signed up and I was really looking forward to it. I knew we would not run together but running the same race is always a good experience.
Photos taken at the event were put on a free flickr site and people were encouraged to download them- how fantastic is that??
Now, the night before my hip was very stiff so I did think I might just go along and spectate, but I would see how I felt in the morning. When I got up, I was OK- not 100%, but better, so I thought I would give it a go and could always turn back. The rain was hammering down, so I had packed a change of clothes for the journey home. I checked their facebook page and it said they were out inspecting the course but at that point it was still on- I like it when things like that are posted so you don’t have to make a wasted journey. Dad picked me up and despite the rain we were both looking forward to it. The M25 was closed so we ended up taking a different route, but still got there in plenty of time. We had to park in the town centre and walk a little way, and my hip had stiffened up in the car. I thought it might be OK so we walked slowly to the clubhouse, race HQ. Luckily the rain stopped as we came off the motorway- I think as the storm was moving east and the run was to the west we had managed to pass it.
These are the best races- just collect your number on the day, fill in the back, put your chip around your ankle (and hope it stays on), leave your bag right there, and head outside to the start.
I think there were 400 people doing it- I told Dad I would start right at the back, and had told him earlier that I like 5 mile events, partly because “they are done in an hour”… We agreed to meet back at the club house, whether I finished or not. Anyway, we were off, and I even got briefly overtaken by the tail runner. My hip was OK- I wanted to let it warm up so I started slowly, telling myself I would turn back if it got worse. The rain held off but the wind was cold, and I was glad of my long sleeved top. I was also not convinced that my number would stay on because the wind was really making it flap about all over the place.
Tail runner behind me, gloves on and tissues at the ready as my cold had come back too.
The race was in a lovely setting- one 5 mile loop of a country estate- very muddy, with loads of marshals everywhere. It was undulating, but only one short steep uphill, loads of big puddles to avoid (or splash through, if you are that way inclined), it went through woods, fields, past a lake. Despite the soreness in my hip getting worse, I enjoyed it. It was not really the type of race that you could turn back- by mile 4 I knew I had made the wrong decision, but by then it was either walk or run back. The photographer was right by a huge puddle at the 4 mile marker and I joked to him that he was there just in case people fell over.
(One of the front runners going right though the middle)
By this time my watch was getting close to the hour mark, and I was hoping I would not be too slow as I didn’t want to worry Dad. The terrain, although soft underfoot, was very uneven, and often I slowed to a walk anyway to avoid the puddles or mis-stepping as I didn’t want to jar my legs further.
Dad’s taking the less muddy option!
Still smiling! I did really love the race, even though I know I chose the wrong option.
I do think it was a great race, but I was glad to see the finish line. The sun had even started to come out by then.
The marshals were brilliant- as I was coming to the finish lots of them had headed back from their posts and they all cheered me on which was lovely- there was only a handful of people behind me so it was nice to see support for the whole length of the race. I was given a bottle of water, the medal (which is lovely, sort of old fashioned but in a good way) and a mars bar.
I walked back to the HQ and met up with Dad, who had really enjoyed himself, although he was starting to worry (it took me 68 minutes so it was my slowest ever by a long way). I put on my jumper (Totoro!) and we of course had the obligatory medal photo. Luckily no need to change clothes, but we could have done if needed- there were real toilet cubicles and by the time I was there it was emptying out.
The walk back to the car was not as good- I was really limping then and knew it was the wrong decision to have run. It really stiffened up in the car, and so I really did pay the price for my bad choice. We went out for dinner with my parents in the evening, and I was walking so slowly then. It has slowly been getting better, but it’s not good. My back is still sore, as are my left ribs, and the bruise on my hip (which I found later on Sunday evening after the Welwyn half) is now paler in colour but still huge. Andy found me this article about hip flexors, which seems to most closely describe what I have- I can’t touch my toes on my left foot as my hip has locked so much, and I have booked a GP appointment as it is similar to what happened to me on and off a few years ago. I don’t think it is linked to overuse because last year I had zero problems, and trained for a marathon. My mileage is nowhere near as high now- I think more likely is that when I fell I have bruised my back, and so then the muscles all tense up, putting pressure elsewhere. But I would like to find out for sure so if there is something I can do to prevent it happening again I can do that.
Anyway, lesson learnt: No running if my hips are not 100%. I’ve rested this week and I am signed up to do the new runner briefing at parkrun (which means I can run after) but I am going to just do that and then watch/ help out around the finish if needed until my dad and brother finish. I promise. I’m going to wear jeans so I am not even tempted!
How was your Bank Holiday? Did you avoid the storm? Our “Sold” sign blew off the fence but luckily avoided any cars!