As I starred out of the window of the hotel last night and the rain lashing down and the flag flapping the breeze I thought to myself that off road shoes would probably be a good option for the Park Run in the Forest of Dean in the morning. Shame then that I had left them at home!
If you've not heard of the concept of Park Run before it's pretty straight forward. Register once (this gets you your bar code) and you can turn up for a 5k timed run at 9am at a park near you. They are free, you don't need to register for the one you're going to do, the results are posted on line within hours, they are friendly, they are welcoming and likely to be held at a park near you. .... in the case of the Forest of Dean run it's a woodland, which at this time of year is a little... err... muddy.
Anyway..... got up early enough to have breakfast and got in Betty (the motor) and zoomed up the road to the run via the National Dive centre to drop the Pope off. Such sweet memories of the Dive centre, that being the place for the epic Little Woody race last year.
I got to the car park up at Five Acres (venue for little woody race hq - so more memories) and found other newbie FoD runners. I looked at their footware - I had already decided that Asics racing flats were not a suitable choice and so opted for a pair of *new* Asics Gel Cumulus that were lurking in the back seat.
They looked nice, shiney and new.....
Got to the race start and the organiser turned up pushing his mountain bike and proceeded to state that it was muddy out there today - in fact so much so he had got off his bike!! HA HA HA!
Now I wasn't expecting much from this "race" ... just best effort... I've not done a great deal of running (I am ignoring the fact I have a half marathon in ...err.. oh dear about 3 weeks...)... and then when someone said to a slim, runner looking lady "what time do you usually do..." to which she replied "21mins..."... he replied she'd more likely be 23mins on this course. ... so that was good actually as I'd have wanted to go sub 26mins and maybe poke towards sub 25... but I had already decided that was unlikely given the likely muddy situation and so now I was figuring something around 27mins would be ok - this was good as had the effect of taking the pressure off (not that there actually was much pressure!)
Anyway - the small gathering gathered, the organiser gave us a quick talk about following the signs (it's a looping, in, out and around the dusty windows type of course)... and we were off.
There was the usual stamped up the first 50m (and only 50m of solid ground) before we bank/ slide right and were into the rhythm of a 5ker.... somewhere in the first k I rounded a right/ left bend, lost my footing completely and done a bambi-esk skid, slip, slide with arms and legs flying. How I managed to stay on two legs and not brake or strain anything is beyond me (I was commended for my "holding it" after the race)... This was definitely not a day to worry about run technique (pose or not)... but a day to try and control my lateral movement whilst trying to attain forward momentum. It was a hoot.
After what felt like an age I dared look at my watch... HOLY MOTHER OF ***... I had only been going 10mins... and clearly I had gone off way to fast (I will download my Garmin later next week)... to say I was blowing out of ever orifice would be about correct. Oh how I have forgotten about how tremendous 5k's can be!!
There were 2 laps for the run - although lap 2 was a totally different configuration to lap 1 - completely disorientating at one point people were coming back in my direction (that would be the fast ones!).. there was a guy running with his dog - clearly a regular (both the dog and man)... made me laugh when the guy came past me only for the dog to protest and stop for a quick doggy doo moment.... they came past me again only for the dog to have another moment yards later!! ha ha ha... they past me for the final time on the home straight (damn that dog - he looked like he had had lots of fun!!)
I was pleased to finish and stop my watch on something just under 27mins... the fast girl from the start looked like she had been back an age... and had virtually no mud on her legs.. I could not say the same for either my legs or my trainers..... I said thanks to the organiser and then all that was left was for me to squish my way to my car, get back to the shower and scrub my legs clean!!
I have NO idea how I got that much MUD above my knees on my inner thighs....!!