At 9am the weather forecast showed a large blue mass crossing over the SW London area around 2pm today. This doesn’t bode well.
Breakfast, bumble about the house for a while, grab the running gear and get ready to go. Damian arrives strangely around 7 minutes before the absolute latest arrival time I told him we could manage. Something must be wrong with him, he’s never on time.
Off we went to Bentley to go and collect David, then onwards to the Alice Holt Forestry Centre. We collected our race numbers very quickly and efficiently, a very well organised event it seems!
I spotted Steve Low from the club and asked him how the course was. He said “Undulating!” (He wasn’t wrong as we soon found out!)
The sky went grey around 2pm (right on schedule!) and James arrived with the now essential umbrella as the downpour we’d been waiting for commenced.
The youngsters went off for their 1k and 3k races. We had a bit of a sweepstake going on how fast the top 3k runner would reappear. Guesses ranged from 15 minutes to my own 13. The first one crossed the line in 11m23s! Wow. The first 1k runner (bearing in mind they were all about 3ft tall) came in just under 5 minutes in the 5-8 years age group!
At 2:20pm they called for the 10k and 5k runners to assemble. We were asked to arrange ourselves in order of how fast we thought we’d complete the run. I spotted Steve Low again, about 4 feet from the start line. I guessed that another 4 or 5 feet behind him would be appropriate for me! There were probably 30 or so others ahead of me when the gun went and a good few more passed me within the first quarter mile. I don’t tend to go out fast nowadays and today was no exception. I was running on tired legs, having run 12 yesterday and knew I wouldn’t set the world alight this afternoon.
Soon enough I began to see what Steve had been talking about. This was far from flat! At 4k you’re faced with the biggest climb so far and it’s actually pretty steep. As you arrive at the top, the 5k runners branch right to finish and the 10k runners bear left and onwards steeply downhill before another steep climb back up. This is torture, having struggled up a hill, you immediately lose most of the height and have to climb back up again.
As I rounded the bend to see the 9k marker I had a strange sense of deja-vu. It’s the 4k hill again! I’m not sure who devised the route, but it’s quite a downer to see the same big hill twice. On the plus side, I passed the marshall with ‘Last Runner’ on her fluorescent vest walking up this hill with the last runner. I suggested they should swap tops 😆
I crossed the line soon after in a time of 41m39s and 23rd place (of 388 runners who finished). I am incredibly happy with that. On tired legs and a muddy, hilly off road route, that’s a damn good time for me. I also notice I actually beat the last 5k runner to the finish line (that may be who I passed) by about a minute and a half! Unsurprisingly Steve was already beyond the finish when I arrived, having finished in a little over 39 minutes and claiming 7th position! Well done Steve and congrats on scooping the winning place in your age category.
I grabbed a water bottle from the finish and wandered back down the hill to see if I could see any of the other three. Damian was the first to come through and he was looking very comfortable, posting a time of around 56 minutes. David crossed the line less than a minute later, closely followed by James around 45 seconds later. It turns out the three of them had run together for much of the route and they all seemed to have enjoyed it.
A few celebratory beers and a barbecue later and I’m now contemplating how to slow everyone down tomorrow for the 20 mile club run. I think I’m going to struggle, I’ve now covered over 41 miles this week already, 32 of which were in the last 4 days!
The daily average has today hit 4.50 miles for the first time this year! I’m going to keep it there now.
Just 10 days more left. I’m both excited and apprehensive about what lies beyond the end of the 1095miles challenge for me. Watch this space, my brain is buzzing with ideas…
Today’s shoes: Lime/Blue Kayano 17s
Miles today: 5.96
Miles to date: 1596.08
“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”