Tuesday 27th October 2015
After a broken night thinking about the race and changing the clocks I was very awake at 3:30 am, desperately trying to get back to sleep, but the race kept going round in my mind, what if? what if? what if? etc. I even managed to read a little on my Kindle, which ironically I am reading 'its a hill get over it' which is about fell running, so I eventually gave in and made some tea at 4:30ish.
As it got lighter outside it was obvious it was going to be a nice day, but very chilly, the sun came up and there were clear blue skies, although I didn't see the frost they forecast.
I made up some muesli, banana and Satsuma, covered it with milk and let it sit, I find the muesli absorbs the milk making it much more palatable, filling and tasty and the added fruit gives it interest as well as being 2 of my 5 a day! I had decided that by the start of the race at 10:30 I would be hungry and by the end of the race 2hrs + and 13.7 miles later I would be even hungrier. My strategy was the same as the Stumble race the week before, try to eat an hour before my run and then rely on Tailwind drink and a gel if needed, the short events don't lend themselves to eating, I find even jelly babies difficult to chew. I didn't want to take cereal this time as I was giving a lift to the other member of the BLRCC Rachel up the lane, so made up a nice Tesco full seed homemade strawberry jam sandwich.
As it got nearer the time to pick up Rachel I felt more nervous, I had decided to wear my three-quarter Ron Hills which I find more comfortable than shorts, and if its chilly help keep my knees warm, my Asics Trail top, which is great as it has good pockets in which to put my gel, My Salomon Fellraiser shoes, after the dress rehearsal the Speedcross seemed a bit light on the long down hill from Neroche, and the Fellraiser I though would be better in the mud I was expecting after the previous days heavy rain. I was also taking my trusted Hilly belt with a bottle of Tailwind Raspberry Buzz which has 200 calories and 200 g of Carbs as well as caffeine to give me that boost [ I need all the help I can get!!]. I also made sure I put tape across my chest as running vests seem to chafe badly and it does get very sore! again I rediscovered this on my rehearsal, mind they are awful getting off again and must be done in the shower! anyway TMI I think, back to the plot!!
I loaded up the car and drove up the lane, to meet Rachel who was still suffering from a heavy cold and could barely talk because of laryngitis, we chatted as we drove to the start, 15 minutes away, getting stuck behind the local cycling club on the big hill out of the village, they seemed to have a good turn out, even if they were all over the road!
As we approached Thurlbear we were being directed to park up along the lane, fortunately we were close to the race HQ. We went to register, claiming our free lucozade sport on the way past, then it was the usual battle to get the race number on the vest with the four pins, its a shame no one has come up with another method.
We were soon in the playground of the school, the organiser giving us the briefing about long horned cattle and Exmoor ponies grazing over Neroche, familiar to me as its my regular running area.
It was 10:30 and we were off, jostling for position a little nearer the front to avoid getting stuck in the singletrack down the road. We soon turned off for a short muddy field edge run before crossing back onto the road for a further half mile or so. Were were going at a good pace 9 minute miles and I noticed my HRM said 183!!! I think it was wrong [hope] clearly a blip connecting with the chest strap.
We finally turned off road at Netherclay and started to climb up through the woods, beautiful colours and the sun shining through the trees, no wind and jus the sound of footsteps and heavy breathing R and I were managing to keep our position as we climbed steadily up, some runners were already starting to walk, although it wasn't very steep as we went up through Piddle Wood the track steepened slightly and the pace dropped a little before rising again on the flatter section near Staple lawns, it was a glorious morning, the runners were now strung out, I hadn't a clue on our position, but we seemed to keep leap frogging the same runners the pull up through Staple Park was a little steeper and I decided to ease off a little knowing that the steepest bits were yet to come, R pulled away a little leaving a 50 metre gap, which I maintained the best strategy being to run our pace, R was going well despite the 'illness' we finally emerged out on to the road just up from Underhill farm and it was a short steep road section before plunging off road through a kissing gate and a very muddy wet area, much undulating terrain before turning right to start the climb up towards Staple hill once more, it was very muddy along here and the runners in front carefully picking their way through the driest sections [ but there were none!] or at least the least muddy!! this slowed us up and I was grateful for the ease of pace to recover a little and take in some fluid. The next section was the steepest bit and most of us walked up the track to the summit of Staple Hill, the highest point on the Blackdowns at 315 metres. We were now getting spectators as the car park was close, their cheers and good wishes helping us on, I had now caught R up again and we were both looking forward to the drinks station which was manned by R's class from the local school she is a teacher at, as we approached we could see and hear the children cheering and see them waving, all eager to give 'miss' a drink and a few jelly babies, it gave us a boost and seemed to amuse some of the other runners before we went down the familiar steep stony descent towards Mt Fancy Farm, we were on familiar ground now, knowing that the biggest hills were behind us, 6+ miles covered. We ran the next section to Neroche at a good pace, managing to keep our pace, at this point R started a little 'competition' with a runner from the local club as she felt the runner would want to beat R at all costs, more later!, we crossed the Staple Fitzpaine road and started to climb towards Neroche, fortunately we didn't have to climb to the castle summit, and we were soon starting the long 2 to 3 mile descent down towards Bickenhall, across Curland Common. This was a fast run and the pace went up the stony ground not really absorbing the footfall, muddy in places and quite slippery at times, lots of jarring and at times felt my right calf muscle starting to 'niggle' we finally hit the road with 3.7 miles to go. I was starting to feel tired now and knew the next section across Bickenhall Plain a slog!
which it was I could feel I was starting to lose pace, and tried to make sure I had a good drink, hoping it would revive me a little, I have been across this part of he route 3 times and each time found it hard, we eventually met the road at Batten Green where the next section was approximately a mile to the next off road, it was here that R started to pull away, the gap got bigger and I couldn't stay with her, so decided to plod on and keep my own pace, I did overtake several runners and we had now dropped the local runner that R was intent on beating [ the local runner was a local well know Ultra and marathon runner] the run up the road was hard and I was pleased to turn off through the woods once more, taking the edge of the field past the RSPCA animal centre, I ran on the field edge as the path was quite sticky and muddy, whereas the tractor tracks seemed compressed enough not to be muddy, we entered the woods and I was now feeling very tired, heavy legs etc, I drank as much as I could, ironically I did overtake several people at this point. We were back on the road past the Farmers Arms pub before the final run down through Thurlbear Woods to the finish, the marshall informed me there was only a mile and a bit to go and all down hill, I remembered it from my recce runs, she was correct, there was no sign of R now she was a good few minutes ahead, going well, I started to speed up with the knowledge it was all down, passing another runner who informed me it was the furthest he had ever run, down I went, walkers giving me encouragement as I went, I hit the road after the small ford and the sign said 200 metres, it was a long 200 metres and I arrived with cheers from the awaiting crowd at the finish line R cheering me on with a cup of water in her hand. It was over, 2 hrs 16 minutes and 24 secs very pleased with that, I hadn't kept and eye on my time as I went focussing on HRM and pace instead, R had finished in 2 hrs 13 mins so did well to take 3 mins over the last couple of miles, mind she had virtually completely lost her voice now. I picked up my celebratory memento HerePath mug, feeling relieved but happy with my efforts, I had no idea on race position. After cheering a few more finishers we made our way home, to hot showers and in my case homemade soup and rolls. the weather had been superb, sunny, cool, no wind, a perfect running day on a great route and the event was very well organised, perhaps next year I could get down to 2hrs???? all my preparation seemed to have worked, perhaps a few more longer miles in my legs would help as the 11 mile point seems to be a problem for me! I had used 1800 calories, my average Heart rate was 161 which seems a little high and I did a 9:57 pace.
My legs were quite stiff for the rest of the day. The race organisers 'Running Forever' put the results on the website that evening.
I had come 100th out of 151 finishers and R had come 93rd there were 30 none starters. I had managed to come 3rd in my category. the winner did 1 h 34 mins !!! I enjoyed the day and the race brought my race running year to an end, next event is the Grizzly next March, I am sure it will soon come round, meanwhile I will get back to cycling with a bit of running!!
rather than running with a bit of cycling. What happened to the local runner, she came in 6 mins behind me:-)