Tuesday, October 29, 2013

CTS Suffolk 10k Race Report

Last weekend saw us take a road trip to the county of Suffolk - a very lovely historic county on the mid-eastern side of the country. Started off just in time for the rush hour on Friday evening with a planned overnight stop at a Premier Inn just near Chelmsford (which was about half way).... got to say I was slightly surprised and happy with the Premier Inn, basic but clean accomodation and we had pre-paid for the meal deal and breakfast - both of which was where the surprise came from. Both delicious and good value for money..... the poached eggs on Saturday morning were some of the best I've had in ages!!

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!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Race report - the really short version

Yep there isn't one!! OMG... !

Woke up Sunday morning feeling a bit sicky but figured that was probably pre-race nerves, wasn't quite sure why I was so hot but figured that was probably hormones....
.... then I looked over at the OH who just said "I think I poisoned us"... couple of bouts of sickness during the night whilst I slept albeit with really weird dreams involving stomach ache...

Anyway - I did a quick reassessment and decided I didn't want to bother risking it - and let's face it the weather was horrid in a very autumnal way.... We spent the day drinking water and letting things pass.... as it were... and so didn't do the planned half.

Slightly annoying but I am ok with it - as we got nearer to the start time of the race I was feeling pretty lousy so expect had I tried I'd have been in every porta-loo and behind every bush! Not sure if it was the food we ate on Saturday night or just a bug as Monday I still felt sick with a sore throat - although by Tuesday I was sort of ok again.

Psychosomatic or just psycho?!...

Had it been a half ironman I would gone to the start line at least, but given it was a half in Autumn well - nevermind! We have a 10k off road event a week on Sunday which should be great fun.... half the distance and more fun sounds like a good deal to me :)

Given one of my October objectives was to recover well from the race I think I can tick that one off at least :)

Saturday, October 12, 2013

October Goals and Ramblings

Gosh! Already on the 12th... so ... I have been thinking about October aims ... and have been dithering a bit because I have a half marathon tomorrow ... yes the 13th unlucky for some....

My thoughts with the half marathon are a bit mixed.... let's get the negatives out the way first;

1. First and foremost I think I really made a mistake giving blood two weeks ago. I really didn't think about it but my runs haven't been great since and my training was already a little less then ideal.... So I'm quite nervous about being able to go the distance at all. My longest run was three weeks ago which was 10.7miles.... since then I did a 5 mile (felt truly awful, 4 days after the blood giving), 6.8miles (last weekend, went slower but still felt awful) and 3.2miles on Thursday.... 

2. The weather forecast looks absolutely awful - now I don't mind running in rain but in my mind this race was going to be happening on a lovely autumnal day - a bit like today in fact.... but we are scheduled for a deluge between 9am and 1pm.. the race starts at 9:30... 

but on a positive note....
3. The reason I entered this race in the first place was to get me out and training again.. and whilst I managed lots more focused training before my new job started (well I wasn't working so had no excuse!)... I've still probably done about enough to get by - although it is likely to be quite a tough finish.

4. I have some family and friend who may be willing to suffer the weather to support me (and the several hundred other competitors)... so that will be cheery... and after the race my parents are taking us out for lunch... free food is always a good motivator even when you are 43!!

So my plan tomorrow is to go along and see what happens.... it is a figure of 8 type of course - the first 6.5miles flat and scenic as we go down some country lanes and back up the Thames path.... I think if I feel completely awful by the time I get back into Henley I will have the option of stopping and accepting it isn't my day - and I'm ok with that as an outcome.... but if I feel ok then I will go out on the next loop - which has a nice long 1.5mile hill rep in it... so really of the 6.5 miles I have 1.5miles uphill and 1.5miles steep down... the rest is pretty flat so assuming my lungs survive the up and the toenails survive the down then I can run walk my way in.... lashing rain or no lashing rain!

This was the first half marathon I ever did - when I entered I hoped I'd be good for going quicker then the time I did in 2007 which was 2:10:21 (not chipped, my logbook says more like 2:07) .... however now actually I'd be more then pleased just to finish and accept this could well be my Personal Worst half marathon result... we will see....

My other aims for October are;
1. To recover from the race well, regardless of what distance I end up covering (ie even if I DNF)
2. We've entered a 10k off road race in Suffolk at the end of the month; I've never been there so I'm looking forward to enjoying a relaxing run in a new part of the UK - it will be good to go explore it.
3. Carry on with my Yoga, finding this a great start to my day, so getting in 1-2 sessions a week has been enjoyable
4. Find a solution to my "where am I going to swim" problem... given I've entered a half ironman next year I really ought to get back in a pool somewhere which is conveniently located but also not rammed so you can get a good workout in.

Before we know it it will be November!