Trot round the plot was the alternative name that my friend gave to the half marathon distance race we had both entered. Actually titled "Bolt round the Holt" I think her interpretation was probably far more accurate as for me there wasn't a lot of bolting going on. With 3 weeks to go to the marathon, I had yet to achieve a half marathon distance, not a good place to be, so headed off to take part in a trail event of 21k to see how I held up. A last minute change saw 2 of us entered for the 21k and and additional one for the 10k, on a suddenly chilly day after some glorious March sunshine.
Arriving in the car park field, we headed to register and claim our chips and numbers, found where the finish was (always important to know where you are finishing, and then off to prepare ourselves for the run.
Determined to get around, they lined us all up, setting the racers off in groups. 5k runners first, then 10k runners, then the 21k runners. (Well i say runners....) Not surprisingly within about 400metres I was trailing nicely, and with a 1k loop to do at the start then twice round the 10k lap, I knew it was going to be a long run. Can't call it racing, although I guess in effect the race is against myself and my mental strength to continue, when it would be so easy to say "sod it" and give up. I was happy with my pace, I do seem to have a little more of it when being race timed, even though for most it is slow, it is quicker than I have managed in some training runs, so I think it is all relative.
The course had few marshals, not a problem for directions, and sometimes i find their empty encouragement a little sickly (though some do genuinely mean it others seem to be just saying it and pitying you round) and the route was clearly marked with arrows, and it was very pleasant scenery to run through though extremely undulating with a few hills thrown in for good measure. I walked up a long incline and apologised to the marshal sat at the top, that it would be a long wait for me to get round for the next loop, while ahead of me I could see people already looping back to join the 2nd circuit. I wondered how long before i was lapped, and how I could minimise the damage of being overtaken by too many.
I surprised myself by running (or trotting) a lot more than I thought I would and was joined by a man on a bicycle to check I was OK and to let me know that I had the "dubious honour of being the backmarker"...um....tell me something I didn't know. He zoomed off to find the next slowest with my "don't tell me I don't wish to know how far ahead they are".
Joined by a 2nd cyclist "Angus" the "sweeper" of sorts as he kept disappearing and then coming back to find me later.
The first water station at 5k was already devoid of refreshments, just as well I was carrying my bottle then.
At 5 miles I had my first runner pass me :-( they were heading for home, I was heading for my 2nd lap. As the course split between "head to the finish" and "go round again", I spoke to the marshal there and said I had enjoyed it so much I was going round again. Waiting at the water station my 10k buddy, with gel and water to give me a boost. Famous last words "I'll trot with you for a while to keep you company and cool down a little" well the cool down trot turned out to be the whole 2nd lap and I must say the company was nice (though I am so used to running alone I find shouting at myself is fine, someone else shouting at me is irritating). The Garmin beeped for low battery, arrrrggggh no....... only 8 1/2 miles gone. So back up plan and "buddies" Garmin activated to capture the last few miles.
Same marshal at top of the long hill I had walked the first time, looked at me and said "Are you sure you want to carry on?" Hmmmmm red rag, bull and "of course" knowing full well she was obviously desperate to get home and would have to wait for me to go round part of the loop to pass her again.
Repeated loop was nice, I remembered where I was and could push myself to each marker, including watching people up in the trees on the Go Ape course.
Lady marshal however, did not wait around for me to return to her agan, she had gone leaving just a lonely yellow arrow to direct me.
Passing the water station for the seond time revealed 2 little cups of water on their own waiting for us. Angus had previously caught us up to see how we were doing and must have organised it ....bless.
With no-one else on the course now, it was starting to get to "severe talking to self" stage, but eventually the finish line approached and there were still a couple of people there to hand over my goody bag and medal. "I don't think anyone deserves this more than you" she said as she put the medal round my neck. Hey I did the same distance as everyone else, just a lot slower. in fact about 3/4 hour slower than the next to last. Oh dear!!! Marathon time prediction has shifted to a further half hour from previous predicted time, but I think i may ignore that, after all the marathon will be road and flat :-)
Oh and the garmin survived the remainder for the race, though it lost its power button and the battery is not great at holding a charge, so, a quick call to Garmin in Totton and it is now off to Garmin heaven to be "refurbished" while i get a nice new (well refurbed) one back, which i hope will have good battery life and get me safely round the marathon in a good time. Now wouldn't that be nice.
http://gallery.sussexsportphotography.com/a.tlx?k=340zher&pictureid=18092205to check out a nice photo of me almost looking like I am running.