The day start in almost normal race day fashion, with immediate thoughts turning to the race. However, this was an evening race, which meant a whole day to spend with it constantly in the back of my mind.
It also meant, whilst i was walking to work i kept over thinking my steps , trying to feel out any niggles and then whilst at work, whenever i moved, i was thinking about the energy waste…….madness!!!
At times i tried to picture the race, at the various stages and how i would plan to run it, something that a lot of running guides suggest you do, but something you can only do if you had run the course before. Luckily i had done this race three times before so i had a very good idea what to expect and could visualise myself running the route and think about how to run the various parts. However, whenever i pictured the start, i go that nervous butterfly feeling, so i had to stop myself picturing that part of the race.
At work, i was due in a meeting 13:00-16:00 and i knew If this overran it would make it very tricky to get home and eat in time for the race. As it was, luck was on my side and the meeting finished early, giving me plenty of time to pack up and ahead off on my walk home.
Once home i started having my usual race day breakfast, even though it was 17:00, as it is the only meal i knew i can eat and digest in time for the race which started at 19:30. This consisted of a bowl of cereal, two slices of toast (One with jam) and an SIS hydration drink. I also decided to through in a SIS engergy bar, as i was still a bit hungry :
At the race my dad and my friend Louisa (AKA PenguinGirl AKA @Lou_McN) where also in attendance. With Louisa looking particularly nervous, which might of been my fault as i had been stressing to her that’s its a tough race, this was mainly because a) it is and b) I wanted to ensure she put in and the right training. And it seemed that worked as she told me about running on trail routes in the build up to the big day. Louisa is still fairly new to running and most her races have been the 5K parkruns, however with age on her side, she has plenty of time to become a much better run than me. It also means she has plenty of enthusiasm and excitement about the races, which as someone who has been running for a few years now you can feed on and admire.
So at 19:30 we set off, i had started fairly near to the front as from experience i know that we set off down a path which is only wide enough for about 5 people and with 165 runners, i didnt want to get stuck behind too many slower runners.
The first mile flew by, i think i reached it at around 6:33, much too quick for the heat and the distance but i decided to maintain a fast pace any way. It was also around the 1st mile point it also became clear to me that a particular runner, i think from the Darwen Dashers runners club, was battling me. I knew this because whenever i drew near him or edged past him he flew on a head a couple of meters and this would continue for the next two miles. Although some of this time was spent on a single person trail were no one could over take any one and this guy had taken to flinging back all the gates we pasted thought in a deliberate attempt to slow those behind him down. Most people in the race leave the gates in the middle , but you sometimes get people like this guy and it just makes you want to beat them.
And on that note, not to far past the 3 mile point and before we reached the B5256 road , i went past him and opened up a gap between us, which resulted in me not seeing this guy again for the rest of the race. So that duel was won.
Once we crossed the B5256 to head towards the climb at the 4 mile point, i decided it was time to take my energy gel. This one was a SIS peach flavor gel with nitrates and i am yet to look up what that exactly means. On taking it, it gave me the boost i needed as my legs were feeling a bit sore and i went through the next half mile with ease. It also quenched my thirst on what was a very hot day and there are no drink stations in this race. So that was an added plus point.
That whens i reached the cow field, a grass (and cow dung) covered section of the course, all up hill and all uneven soft ground which your feet sink into, meaning you get no push off what so ever. It was really hard going and i struggled though this part of the course.
After this we entered a woodland section of the race, which features amongst inclines and declines…..stirs. Which are hard to run both up and down!! But i did get a bit of a second wind at this point and picked up the pace once more, reaching the 5 mile point on around 36 minutes.
This last mile of the race is all up hill, which is very tough on weary legs and it was at this point where i found myself in my second duel of the race with a chap from the Todmorden Harriers. Again, the same pattern as the first duel ensued, whenever i caught him up or edged ahead he would dash on up ahead, until one point were i got perhaps half a meter ahead of him and flew by me opening up a gap of about 2 meters and with only around 100 meters of the race left, i knew i didnt have anything left to give and catch him back up.
However, behind me came the sound of heavy breathing and pounding feet, no i wasn’t under attack……………it was another runner!!! So rather than sluggishly drag my exhausted self over the finish, i had to once more up the pace to ensure this new challenger didn’t go by me……..and you know what, he didn’t. So three duels undertaken, 2 won. I was pleased with that.
What i was even more pleased with, was my time, to my shock and surprise and despite having squeezed this race into my training program, I had achieved a course of PB 44:07. Ok only three seconds off my previous PB but still a PB and man i was pleased, i really didn’t expect that at all. I also placed 23rd……which again is really good going and i am very pleased with my evenings work
My dad came home at around 1hr02 , which he was pleased with and Louisa came sprinting home in 1hr05 , which she was really pleased with as it was her first ever trail race.
So it was smiles all around and another great badger race. i always try and do one of these a year and if your local to the area, i recommended giving it a go.
So tonight, session 31. I am down for 11 miles. And whilst my legs might not feel as bad as i though they would after yesterdays race, i know its going to be tough going out there.
So i have designed myself a route which isn’t too challenging, although it does feature a tough climb at around the 7 mile point.
In other news the details of the Cuerdale ParkRun are out and i think i will this one and continue to attend the Preston one as i quite enjoy that one but I like the sound of a trail ParkRun