On Saturday morning we were up bright and early to drive up to Milton Keynes. A few weeks ago Andy had decided that as I was running there, and it was the same weekend as the Grand Prix, he may as well get a ticket for it. So he dropped me off at race HQ at 8.30am, and then was off to qualifying.
Well, the race didn’t start until 10am, so I had plenty of time. The race was around some lakes, so I had a little wander about. It was really pretty.
It was raining pretty hard at that point. I was wearing a raincoat, but that meant I didn’t want to go to the bag drop until as late as possible.
The race HQ was tiny- just how I like it to be.
Starting arch on the right, and the fence on the left is where the finish tunnel was, as well as the bag drip tent. After my little wander around I made my way back to the HQ- by around 9am it was getting busier. There was music playing and a lady chatting about the sponsors, people who were running and so on. At 9.35 I reluctantly took off my coat and put my bag in the drop tent, and then headed back to the shelter of some trees. I didn’t join in with the warm up, but at least they didn’t do silly stretches.
It really poured during the warm up, but luckily it stopped just in time for the start.
They had pacer runners, which I love. I started between the 55 minute and 60 minute ones, as I wasn’t really sure how I would get on. I knew I couldn’t get a pb, but as it was overcast and fairly flat I thought sub 60 would be a realistic but challenging target.
The route was lovely. It was 2 laps of the lake, which of course has pros and cons, but as I enjoyed the first lap it was good to do it again. There was some support along the way, and there seemed to be a good community spirit between all the runners. It seemed to be the first race for a lot of people. The course was pretty flat. There was a section (3K/8K ish) that was up and down a bit, almost like running up and down gentle bridges (I think where water was flowing in and out of the lakes or something), and the final part was through some woods, but I was glad of the overcast day as most of it was right in the open. It was a pretty muggy day and I was very hot by the end, despite wearing a vest. The shade of the woods was much appreciated. Towards the end I was flagging a bit, and had a little stitch, when a girl running next to me (we had been next to each other for a few km I think) said “nice pacing” to me- then I felt like I had to keep going.
When I saw the 9km marker I checked my watch- at this point I realised I hadn’t looked at it at all (a bit late at that point for any help with pacing!) but I was on 53 minutes I think-if you have read one of my race reports before you may well remember that maths goes out of the window for me when I am running (I calculated 7 miles as being half way of a half marathon before…), and my Garmin is set to miles, and I know mile pacing, but I felt pretty sure that I could do a km in 7 minutes, so pushed on for the final part. In that final km I pulled away from the girl a bit, and managed to overtake another girl who had been swapping places with me for a lot of the race too.
As I as coming up to the finish straight I heard the commentator say my name (they were checking race numbers) which was a nice touch (I had this at the lovely Sherwood forest run before) and then she was saying “we are still under 60 minutes” so I felt pretty pleased!
This is what it is all about! As I crossed the line a medal was put around my neck (I tried to just take it, but the person insisted in me wearing it, which I quite liked really)- then I got to choose my t-shirt (and they had all the sizes!!! Hooray!!!!) before being handed a goody bag and told to go and get a recovery shake.
The grass was wet so I sat on the carrier bag that my t-shirt was in, and had some of the shake. It was OK (a fruit and soya protein drink), but to be honest not the best thing for me right after running. Then it absolutely tipped it down. I walked to the public toilets and got changed (baby wipes for the win), and then went back and stood under some trees and ate some almonds I had brought with me. The plan was for me to walk to the centre of Milton Keynes and get some lunch, and then Andy would pick me up on his way back from Silverstone. I had a map, but the map said it was 2 miles away, and I wasn’t even sure which way up to hold the map. It is not my forte. Luckily there was a Premier Inn there, so I got a taxi instead. I did feel a bit of a cop out (I just ran 6 miles- a 2 mile walk should have been fine) but it was raining so hard.
Then I had the joy of negotiating a busy shopping centre on a Saturday, with all my wet (heavy) race kit in my rucksack. FYI, rucksacks make negotiating busy shops even harder.
Straight away I saw Pret, so headed there for a lunch of an avocado wrap, mango and a peach iced tea. I had some shopping (end of term gifts for colleagues, and birthday presents) but a few hours later I was flagging, so went for a Starbucks. A cinnamon roll is usually a treat I save for after a half marathon, but I didn’t have one after Ashridge. The goody bag included a magazine, but I had also packed my mp3 player and was pretty tired, so I listened to some Marathon Talk instead.
Words cannot convey how tired I was by this point. I had big bags of shopping, my rucksack (wet trainers weigh a lot!) and the goody bag. The shops were so busy, and although a change of clothes made me feel better, I did feel a bit skanky and really wanted a shower. Andy didn’t pick me up until 4pm in the end, so I had been out for hours.
At least I bought a few bits for myself- Accessorize were having a sale so I bought this scarf, some new earrings and some green Essie nail polish (which coincidentally matches the scarf!).
The goody bag was pretty good. The technical t-shirt was the best thing, and the medal was lovely too. It also had a random selection of other goodies: some shower gel (for men– weird… at a women only run…), Urban Fruit mango (the best!), rice bran oil, that spatone iron water stuff, cereal, 9 bar, shampoo sachets, some sweetener and some chewing gum.
I like that the t-shirt lists all the races. I think that is why they had all the sizes (and they weren’t SML either, they were actual number sizes which are so much better). Before when technical t-shirts have been on offer at a race I have ended up with a massive size as none of the smaller sizes are left when I finish (well apart from Stockholm) so I have a few really baggy technical t’s. I love that this one fits so well.
The ribbon has the date and place, so something is specific to that event.
I was not massively keen on the white, thinking it would be a bit see through, but I went for a run on Sunday morning and it was fine- I don’t think my sports bra showed through. It is lovely breathable fabric too- thumbs up from me.
I was a bit unsure about a women only event- I did wonder if it would be all pink and girly, but it was supportive as well as being competitive (they mentioned at the start that if you wanted to be the fastest time of their series this year you had to aim for sub 42 minutes). For me, I would definitely do this race again. The race HQ was nice and small (bag drop tent, a few portaloos), right by the car park, the technical t-shirt is a bonus. I also liked it being on a Saturday as it meant I could recover on Sunday instead of hobbling around work on the Monday. The scenery was really pretty too and it was a traffic free course. It was chip timed, as you had a chip in your number, but the results have not been published yet. I shall have to wait and see if I officially got in under the hour.
Have you ever done a women’s only event before? I have run a few Race for Life’s and think they are great for raising money and encouraging people to start running, but I preferred this one as it was more low key, as well as being more of a running event.
EDIT: Chip time is back: 59.19 Number 98/316 runners