Friday night the weather promised to be sunny throughout - hurrah
Saturday morning we woke to a lovely blue sky spring day - hurrah
What we didn't realise was how cold the wind chill was, drove 2 hours to the coast and got out the car to have the warmth sucked out of me, so I chose to put on everything I owned whilst we registered and see what happened before I decided what to actually wear for the race!!
The venue for this Coastal Trail Series was the world famous Seven Sisters
Or to be exact the coastal path along them and some in land walk ways. I don't call these events "Races" as such as they are, as the organisers title suggests, "endurance" events... they are never going to be "PB" events, but they always guarantee amazing coastal views and usually some lung bursting climbs and thigh-blowing descents. Even "just" the 10k (which was 12.5k on this occasion) is an endurance effort, as for the half, marathon and ultras... well probably slighlty barking..
My plan for the event was to;
(a) ENJOY myself - especially remembering to take in the views
(b) WALK up anything which was either too steep or promised to be long enough to warrant a walk rather then run
(c) RUN LIKE A DOG down any hill - pinning my ears back and going for it (I did however try and keep my tongue in my mouth rather then lolliping around like a dogs).
I went in to the event pretty fresh having not done any Swim,Bike or running since Tuesday... (long days at work and feeling a bit wobbly led me to having a lazy Weds, total break Thursday, and busy Friday). So definitely feeling fresher for the days effort compared to the Ringwood Rabbit a week last Sunday.
The start was close enough to the car park to be able to register and wander back and leave all our warm layers in the car. I opted for t-shirt, long sleeved t-shirt, light jacket, buff and gloves to start with to help combat the biting wind.
We (the 10kers - all the other distances had begun quite a bit earlier) lined up along a narrow grassy track for the off... run back to the car park, through that then up a track to head on to the coastal path - the start was a bit congested, then spread out well up the track only to be thwarted at the top by a kissing gate - so the inevitable stop and wait as we all took our turn to go through - which was ok as gave you some time to get your breath back! Having negotiated that and another gate we found ourselves on the coastal paths, with clear skies, the views were thrilling - white cliffs and menacing seas or miles ahead! Beautiful! Despite my pre-race decision to run like a dog down the hills I found myself at the first couple taking it very very carefully - they were slippery mud on chalk and very steep - so decided better safe then sorry. We had a couple of cliffs to go down and up before turning right and heading in land. Almost immediately with the wind behind you it felt very warm - everyone around me at this stage started taking the odd layer or two off, myself included.
Buff, gloves and coat came off with the coat holding the others and itself wrapped around my waist. We were quickly (it seemed) at the first check point, I dibbed in and then grabbed myself 4 nice little jelly babies.. YUMMY!
Soon and another kissing gate later I DID get to run like a dog down hill through a field - had I realised it was like some sort of rabbit hole minefield I would have perhaps been a little more cautious! As it was a sprinted down to become an semi-out of control, arm wheeling, long legged middle aged woman avoiding rabbit holes in a manic sort of fashion... type of person.. the rabbit warren soon gave way to a chalky incline which you could only do single file - which meant walking as people ahead were.. and I was fine with that. Exciting chalk alley we got to the corner of the field and came across not a kissing gate, not a fence stile but a wall... which had steps up and over... but still a wall!... Needless to say this was single file so we queued up and over that... next more down hill!
RUN LIKE A DOG! Only to have to have to put the brakes on sharpish as we were on single track and the woman in front was phaffing with her headphones and not paying much attention (although was moving)... Found an oppotunity to pass and pinned back my ears again... this time to be thwarted by a gate - why do gates always have to swing towards you when you are running down hill like a dog?!... Anyway - that section was fun.. .through another kissing gate and back to the lane we ran up at the start... 8k done and we were sent back up hill towards a lighthouse and away from the finish line.. I was glad I had (a) been expecting this - because I had looked at the map and (b) knew beforehand that the race was 12.5k, not 10k - this fact caught a lot of people out.
Anyway - uphill (walk), downhill (RLAD), as we came over what I thought could be the last hill only to see another cliff ascent ahead... ah well... RLAD down and then bimble up ... thankfully most of this section the wind was behind you so even when you were walking you were definitely getting a helping hand! We reached the top and the split point - 10k turn and all other distances went onwards (on more like upwards).
Now all there was to do was RLAD about 2k down hill - WHOPPPPPEEEEEEEEEE! It really was fun, and I didn't twist my ankle in any rabbit holes either!
Gave it my all in the last few hundred metres, regardless of the headwind. Finishing in 1hr 23mins 11s. NICE!