From -5 degrees Celsius to the positively balmy 11 degrees today…what is going on? And the crazy snow in the US, this doesn’t bode well for us I don’t think for the future!
But anyway, I did quite enjoy going to parkrun on Saturday morning and not a) freezing or b) getting soaked. It was misty, a bit chilly but otherwise perfect weather. No wind!
My friend, Kelly, from my running club, and I joke every week about how we’re neck and neck in the Netley Abbey points table. She’s number one and I’m number two. To be fair, she’s quite a distance from me and it would take her not to turn up to parkrun quite a few times for me to catch up but it’s nice banter anyway. There’s more chance of the number three lady overtaking me at the moment! I’d love it if Kelly and I both got podium places for the leadership board this year. I think there’s only about eight weeks or so left.
The parkrun itself felt really good. There was no wind, which definitely helped, but I felt speedier running. It was still tough going and the effort level was high but I was running a faster pace. And Royal flush negative splits! For so long I’ve had trouble with getting negative splits for 5ks but now I seem to have found the magic. Holding back a little at the start really does help.
My time was 22:31 which is my fastest parkrun since August (and that includes the Southampton parkrun at the start of the year which is so much more flat) and my fastest ever on the winter course. I’ll take that! Turns out hill training and my long runs seem to be working 🙂
Saturday evening I went round my friend’s house for a girlie evening with some other friends. We had takeaway and lots of moreish crisps (cheesy Doritos, why do you taste so damn good??). It was such a relaxed evening. Before we met up one of my friend’s messaged saying she just fancied wearing some comfy jeggings and a large jumper, and I said my hair would be scraped back into a pony tail and I’d be wearing my glasses and my other friends agreed on making zero effort – because that’s what friends are about: comfort and no judgement! Love evenings like that.
The next morning I got a nice lie-in as I’d planned to do the local cross country race which started at 11am and I was going to run there to make it into a long run. This meant I could set of after 9am. I ran 10 miles from Stubbington to Hedge End, which is actually quite an undulating route! I’d planned the route the night before and tried to remember the different road names I needed to take, but still somehow I got it wrong. It blew my mind when I popped out of a junction and found myself in a familiar area but of which I had never intended to get to. Thankfully and amazingly my route came to an almost perfect 10 miles (8.07min/mile ave).
I arrived at the cross country race location, in Manor Farm, a bit earlier than anticipated (better to have had more time than be late though!). I found some of my Hedgie team mates and also the lovely couple who had looked after my bag as I needed to change into my Hedge End vest and my trail trainers.
It was chilly but not that cold and thankfully not raining. It was definitely squidgy and muddy underfoot though. The race started in a bit of a kerfuffle unfortunately as the path up to the start line was basically the same path we’d have to run down. This meant that trying to get past the start line to line-up (and past the speedies at the front) was quite tricky, especially as people weren’t keen to go all the way to the back. So in the end you just have a wall of people not moving, but facing directly at you ready to start – despite 1/3 of people still not actually behind the start yet!
The race itself was good fun. I definitely felt the previous miles on my legs at the beginning though. I’d already decided to continue with the same effort as before (long run speed) – though this would obviously mean slower in general as the terrain was so up and down and very muddy and technical underfoot. I wasn’t racing or pushing it as this would have been silly for me.
Photo credit: Becky Woollard
Despite this it was still really hard going. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it though. The mud and windy paths were fun to run and it was always interesting. I did get mud splashed in my eye though my an over-zealous puddle splasher. It actually burned!
Photo credit: Becky Woollard
I knew that the race would end on a rather awful hill and when I got to it and checked with my team mate, Keith, running beside me that this was the end. It was. Otherwise I would have walked it if I still had a distance to go, but as I knew this was it I desperately tried to plough up it. Keith was amazing next to me keeping me going and encouraging me on.
Photo credit: Alan
The above photo is literally on the hill. I was fully aware of the camera but it was far more important to push up the hill and not die than try and smile and look relatively OK! Some of my team mates (and friends from other clubs) were at the top and shouted encouragement as well which was much appreciated!
I’m really pleased with the splits and how I got on. I think I came 36th female overall? I can’t remember as I was in that much of a daze after the hill and possibly fourth in my club out of the ladies. Not too shabby!
I was covered in mud but chuffed. I’m so glad I didn’t bother cleaning my trail shoes beforehand either!
It was quite amusing putting my really muddy trail shoes on before the race as my socks were so clean in comparison!
Some of the Hedgie gang (Photo credit: Kate Maslin)
I had planned to stick around for cake (obviously) but my dad was picking me up and the refreshments area was apparently a long way a way. With a heavy and sad heart I headed to meet my dad. No cake for me 🙁
My dad had brought a number of bin bags for me to sit on, get into and generally keep the car clean as I’d pre-warned him about the mud. It worked quite well!
A terrible photo but basically me sitting inside a bin bag in the car
When I got home he suggested I wash the trainers…good idea! I don’t have an outdoors area or hose to do it at my flat or anywhere to keep them drying so I could utilise my parent’s facilities.
It worked quite well. I didn’t actually realise my dad was taking a photo of me at the time… I was trying not to splash myself which really was pointless considering how muddy I was anyway!
Ahh, look how shiny and clean they look! I don’t plan on doing any more cross country races in the future so hopefully these will stay relatively clean now (which I realise is kind of silly considering they’re trail shoes…). They’re now drying off in my parent’s garage – stuck on two poles to air properly.
The rest of the day I spent at my flat, chilling out and just resting. I was very tried from the long run and cross country but it was one of those satisfied feeling of tiredness. I watched random TV, read my book (Station Eleven – very good) and went on some nice walks with Alfie. I even treated myself to a cheeky Starbucks.
What did you get up to this weekend?
Do you combine long runs with other events to make them a bit more interesting?
What do you prefer: starting a race on a hill or ending a race on a hill? I prefer starting on a hill as the entire cross country race I was just dreading that hill.