Sunday, 19 July 2015

Stowe-nly a Half Marathon

Last Sunday I was up at about this time feeling completely wiped out, bad tempered and really not in the mood for a race. I ached all over and felt that for once a run was very much not the thing I needed to sort myself out. Unfortunately I had a race to do- the trail half marathon at the Stowe Triathlon & Run event.

The previous evening various running comrades in Twitterland suggested maybe it was sensible to miss the race since I was feeling so tired. It wasn't one where I was going for a PB or anything anyway and people have twigged that when I say I'll run 'easy' for something what I actually mean is I won't go quite flat out! It was sensible advice but having paid to race I knew I'd only sit at home and get even more grouchy if I didn't turn up and amble round. So off I went to Stowe NT Landscape Gardens.

There were a few of us from Redway Runners running various distances. Several of us were doing the half and Andy, Jonathan and I thought we'd take it easy together and stop for lots of selfies along the way, given that Stowe has about 40 historic monuments around the gardens.

Of course things didn't quite go to plan...

Jonathan stopped for something but Andy and I didn't notice and kept running. We did what appears to be our usual thing of "We're going a bit fast really shouldn't we slow down a bit?". Stopped for a few selfies including one with the evil demon-pig:

It began to wake up as we did the photo, growling and snarling and showing its teeth... Run!!!
It was a hilly, mixed terrain course of 4 laps. I'd been dreading the laps especially the thought of doing one particular hill 4 times but actually it was a fantastic course. I loved the challenge of all the hills (nice hills, lovely hills) and in fact knowing what was coming next was great. I could focus on running each hill well, getting my speed just right so I could push right over the top and there was the mental discipline of keeping going even when I knew there was a particularly hard bit coming up.
Towards the end Andy was flagging a bit with a painful foot. Reluctantly I left him behind feeling a bit guilty- maybe I'd gone off a bit too quick when we started lap 4. But it wasn't long into lap 4 when I realised something wasn't right- we'd already done over 11 miles...
Without Andy I felt a bit lonely- what often happens to me is that I'm not fast enough to keep up with the super-speedy guys but am plenty quick enough for most people to not keep up with me so I end up running on my own (I've said that before, haven't I?!). That can be nice but sometimes having someone else alongside is really helpful- there can be a friendly, unspoken edging to be the one in front, but also when it gets tough just having someone next to you who is also finding it hard you just keep each other going. Luckily for me I could see the speedy Marcus a bit of a way ahead. Had to pick up the pace a fair bit to catch up with him but then we ran together for the rest of the race.

It was hard, I said bad words and shouted a bit. We'd run 13.1 miles and were still going. Where was the finish??

Stretching out my legs on the sweeping avenue down from the school I nearly collided with a cyclist and went the wrong way but there was the arrow pointing to the turn for the finish. Only thing was- we had no idea how far it was from the finish. The turning took us onto a rough path, shared with the poor triathletes on their bikes. In fact it was too rough for them to cycle on so they had to get off and push! It needed a lot of concentration on that last stretch to take care on the rough ground but at last we could hear then see the finish.

Sprint for the finish- I want to beat Marcus! Stop the pink Garmin device... wait a minute. What's that? That can't be right....

14.48 miles.

We waited for a few others in the club to finish then went our separate ways with our medals but no idea of finishing places or times.

4 days later the results are published. Initially I was down as 3rd overall (out of EVERYONE) and 1st lady, but eventually was relegated to 4th overall (although Marcus and I ran the race in the same time) but still 1st lady. Not bad!
There are some fab official photos from the race but I'm still choosing which ones I want. 

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