But I digress!!.... So having had hearty food and a good nights sleep we were onward again heading North East and another 90 odd miles to the small village of Dunwich, a quaint coastal village which was in the process of being invaded by cars carrying runners when we arrived - luckily it did have a beach side car park which seemed to be coping! The event main venue itself was actually in the grounds of some old medieval friary ruins!
The format of the CTS events is fairly straight forward - they offer Ultra, Marathon, Half Marathon and 10k ..ish ... distances... I say "ish" because they are off road and so by nature or often longer then the prescribed distance out of necessity. The Suffolk one (given it is where it is) is described as "Moderate"... some coastal runs are "Extreme" and these ones tend to have cliff face ascents or descents in them... Suffolk is a pretty flat area of the country and so whilst this did have some gentle hills in the race there was nothing really to get too worried about.
The race is organised such that the start times are staggered - with the ultra's and marathoners heading off early doors - which meant we had the luxury of a 11:30am start - on a gloriously sunny Autumnal morning :).... Now I haven't been running well (or consistently) of late so I had planned to take this slow... although I had managed to not pack any electronic device other then my £5 watch from Decathlon... so it was sans Garmin etc that I was to do this little race. I had no expectations, but was hoping to do this at a comfortable canter in about an hour... The event was pretty small compared to some that I do about 100 people had registered for the 10k!
After the briefing - which included ensuring we looked out for tree stumps, tree roots and low pokey branches it was to the "start" line to begin, We did a quarter circuit of the friary before going down a country path and a short stretch of road before getting off road onto tracks. As usual everyone went off at a fast pace, including those running with dogs (the dogs got so excited at the start it sounded more like the start of a hunt rather then a run!)....
Sans Garmin I tried to start off slower then the rest (although probably way too fast) - and felt ok for the first 15mins or so - then we went up a slight incline where I began to catch some people who had gone off at break-neck speed. I got into a somewhat uncomfortable rhythm... I should have known this meant I was probably running beyond my current fitness level... but once in the zone your are somewhat in it.... so stayed with it and the crowd pretty much had sorted itself out by 2+ miles.... I was thinking I could just hang in to the half way point have a quick break and some water and then carry on.... however... the "half way" feeding station wasn't actually half way... it arrived 38 mins into the run by which time I was feeling really rather grotty! I know at some point I was trying to find "fault" with my body so as I had some good reason to stop for a bit (yes well I guess I could have just throttled it back instead).... at some point I was out of touch from anyone else in the race - couldn't see anyone ahead or behind so I thought I must have gone wrong... but that wasn't an excuse to stop either as I soon came around a bend and saw people!
When we got to the marshal at the "not" half way point, I dibbed my timing dibber in the hole and was grateful to hear "only 2 miles to go"... which was as well as the time on my £5 watch said 38 mins had gone by... around the corner from the man was the drink/ feed station. Whilst I had a gel with me I decided (probably foolishly) not to have it, but did have a sip of water and trudged off again. It was at this point I was hating myself and every step and every minute... and then I remembered to look around me and enjoy what I was doing.... have fun... remember!!...oh yes this is why... . and so whilst the last 2 miles I did dry retch at time I enjoyed the experience a bit more and took in the landscape and changing scenery. Whilst that was fun I was, I have to say, just a little disappointed our route didn't actually take us to a place where we could see the sea! But the trees, woods, trials and heather sided pathways were actually not a bad substitute :)
I have to say I physically struggled the last bit (although in a much better frame of mind) and was pleased to get back into the friary ruins and finish. I can't remember dibbing my dibber at the end but apparently I must have done as I had a finish time! The race organiser greeted everyone by name as we filtered through the finish area giving us a print out of our time... I could barely speak to him and actually apologised for that saying I thought I was about to be sick !!! How charming!!
Some dry retching behind the marquee later I reappeared (having not been sick but with a sprained tongue) and was proud to hold up my finishers medal!
I finished in a little over an hour... Which actually given it was 10.2km wasn't too bad, although given how I felt throughout I think has helped recalibrate my understanding of my current fitness levels... quite a bit away from my PB territory set a couple of years ago!!
It's been a long journey back from the pains of last summer - and I'm glad I hated as much of the run as I did and glad I didn't have a Garmin on to play mind games with me.... sounds strange but you can only enjoy yourself sometimes when you realise you are not.
My fitness levels have been recalibrated for sure. I have some way to go before I am back to anywhere near half ironman fitness.... I have 7 months to work on that.. and it will be fun as we've more CTS races planned in some lovely places around the country. I have a local half marathon entered for February time - which I plan on both doing and finishing without wrecking myself!
The thing I have realised is whilst it has been a slow journey back to some fitness over this summer I may not get back to my fastest from a few years ago.... I may do but I may also never get there - what I want to achieve though is that feeling of running and floating along effortlessly with enjoyment... for that, right now, I definitely should be going slower then I ran on Saturday!
The only thing to do after the race was to get changed - see the seaside for a bit then check in to our lovely hotel in the village of Southwold (also the home town for Adnams Brewery) eat local sausages with mash for dinner with several halfs of Adnams beer!