I’m a bit out of kilter with race reports. As I mentioned in the last post, I have raced a couple of times since last year but have yet to write about them but I’m starting with the most recent because it’s so fresh in my mind. Well, fresh in the same way that a pack of supermarket chicken bought from the discount counter and is a few days past its Best Before date is fresh. But before I talk about that race, I want to share some feelings about a race of sorts I did back in November – of sorts only in that it was a club only race and counted towards the club Off-Road championships but there were numbers and times and places and everything so it counts.
The race, which takes place on the route of the popular Ridgeway Race which our club holds annually, is a trail run through the beautiful National Trust woodland and is just shy of 10 miles long and takes in about 775ft of elevation (according to Strava). I was excited about the event because a) I’d never done it before b) it was my first real challenge after injury and c) I love the course. It’s a handicap race with all runners setting off at different times – slow to fast – with the aim of having everyone finishing at about the same time (although this hasn’t yet happened in the events history to my knowledge). The winner is the first one home, irrespective of the time it took them.
All told, the race went well for me. I set out too fast and paid for it later and still don’t manage ascents that well even though they’re relatively benign compared to anywhere outside the Home Counties. But I pushed myself as hard as I felt comfortable, maintained focus and managed to run my fastest time on that course (even allowing for the fact that, technically, a route change made it 0.1 mile shorter), finishing as I did in 1:18 on the nose (so an average of 8:17 mins/mile). It would have been faster too if not for the extra challenge of getting caught behind a couple of ladies riding horses down a narrow path – this slowed the group of runners I was with down to a walk for a couple of minutes. Perhaps the enforced rest did me good and enabled me to push the last couple of miles a little harder than I would have done otherwise. Any which way, I got a time I was pleased with on a steep and muddy course and, more importantly, I really, really enjoyed the run.
So what does this have to do with last weekends half marathon?