Saturday, 24 June 2017

Ridgeway Revenge: First Half Marathon In The Bag!


I'm just back from running 13.5 miles (so slightly over a HM distance) along the Chalk Hills of The Ridgeway. The Ridgeway Revenge is a fantastic half marathon, mainly off-road, along trails and through farmland that really lives up to its name.

The Ridgeway, a prehistoric trackway that cross Britain from West to East, runs along a Chalk spine in the south west, which means that you're either running up, running along or running down hills in this Half Marathon. It was, to coin M's favourite phrase, lumpy.

I had a last-minute panic of Oh My God! What Am I Doing Here?! five minutes before the off, which my husband sorted by saying I was being ridiculous and was perfectly capable of running 13 miles across country in these conditions, and then there was no more time for over-thinking it because the 200 or-so runners were called to the start and we were off.

I got my pacing right (steady because of the end of the bug) and soon fell into step with a guy who was about to turn 70 (I swear he didn't look a day over 60), who runs ultras. We jogged along nattering for the next five miles and as a result the first half of the race flew by. I was grateful to him because I often find the first half of endurance distances hard work. By the time I've bagged 7 miles I've settled in to the run and am generally OK.

M was waiting at the 4 mile point water station, waving and yelling encouragement. We swung left out of the field at that point and ran down a lane, which we followed until it turned into a track at the bottom and became fields. At that point the ground was tough work because the path wasn't wide enough to fit both feet, so you had to continually hop from one side to the other, watching the ground all the time for ruts and roots and holes. 

At mile 7 the land started a long sweep up and my ultra man ran on ahead while I slowed down a bit. I saw M running through a field to my left and then found him waiting for me a little further up the hill. I managed to run past him (for the photo's sake!) and then walked because the hill was biting. The jelly babies came out, I chewed two of them, gave another to a fellow runner who was looking knackered and glugged some water down from the hydration vest. Feeling restored, I trotted on again. It went on like that for the next few miles.

Up yet another hill. 

Beautiful countryside on my beloved Chalk kept me going
Around mile 8, I fell into step with Sally, a lovely lady, as we ran through a beautiful meadow of wild flowers. We kept each other going to around mile 10, talking about race experiences and pacing. Sometimes she ran in front so I could follow her and have a rest, sometimes I went in front so she could follow me and rest. It really helped.

With Sally at mile 10

As we came up (yet another) hill, there was M at the next water stop, shouting you've only got three miles left! That's a Parkun! You can do it! You're nearly there! He lifted my energy no end and I suddenly found myself zooming away from Sally, catching up with and overtaking the next five runners ahead. It must have been a second wind. I knocked a minute off the next km and was flying along feeling really strong thinking: at this rate I'll be back in a little over 2:10 which was a good deal faster than I'd thought.

And then the next hill bit.


It was a monster. Everyone around me slowed down to walk up it. At the top was a stile. I looked meditatively at it, thinking how used to hopping over stiles I am, then discovered that climbing over it seemed to require more energy than I had left. Heaving myself over (grunting like an old lady), my heart sank as I realised this wasn't even the top of the hill! This is where the Revenge part of the name comes in: of the final 3 miles of the race, 2.5 were uphill.

I walked, and ran a bit and walked again. I ate another jelly baby; I drank more water and then I fell in with a lovely couple, the husband was running it with his wife and was urging her on. She and I ran together for the next mile, up the never ending field and after that the never ending chalk track, noting that the race was going to be longer than 21k because we were at 20.5 and there was no end in sight!

I kept plugging on, and then mercifully the land turned and we began to run downhill. I could see the finish a few hundred metres ahead. The flints were rolling under my feet and the chalk track was white and bone-hard and rutted where runnels of water had run, but I was feeling so elated to be finishing that I opened my arms and flew down the remaining hill, loving every single second.

I sprinted to the finish where M and a crowd of people were cheering, and crossed the line in just under 2:20 hours, which, given the terrain I was really pleased with.

The finish!

So that's it, a top race which I really enjoyed and a noble one to be my first ever Half Marathon. I can't quite believe I've done it!

Thank you everyone for all your support and encouragement over the past couple of weeks: you're all brilliant. 


Happy Days!

CT :o)





44 comments:

  1. In the bag, and a cool tshirt!

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  2. Quite Fabulous.
    I so enjoy reading your "running" commentary. You even make running sound like so much fun. I can tell you are really enjoying it all.

    cheers, parsnip and thehamish

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  3. You definitely deserve that T shirt ! Well done you. The ridgeway sounds like a fabulous place to run, although maybe not the uphills. Celebrations tonight I think :) B x

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    1. Yes at last, a marathon t shirt I've earnt :o) x

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  4. Gosh, WELL DONE. After being poorly too, that is really quite an achievement.

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  5. Well done! I am seriously exhausted and all I have done is read about your endeavours.

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  6. Well done you..so pleased you managed after been ill, glad the weather was on your side today..
    Amanda xx

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    1. I am SO GLAD to have done it, and loved doing it so much! Thanks, my dear x

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  7. Hurray, brilliantly done, especially considering you've been unwell. It looks like a fantastic place for a run, beautiful countryside. Well done indeed, I'm waving and cheering. Love the solidarity with other runners and M's constant support, what a lovely man he is. CJ xx

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    1. He's a complete star, he really does make such a difference. I so enjoyed the event, looking forward to the next one now! Xx

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  8. Do you remember the photo of you running with Poppy a year or so ago and even with her little legs she looked to be flying? Well that's what you are doing in the penultimate photo - about to fly across the finish line. Well done CT - an amazing achievement and what a beautiful landscape for your first HM, you will never forget it.

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    1. I do remember it! Her ears were flying too, bless her! Such a fabulous race across such beautiful countryside- you're right, I won't forget it. Thanks, Sarah xx

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  9. Too old to run, and too many nasty body bits, but I love your descriptions. Good on you.

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  10. That sounds tough with so many hills but you did it, well done. 😊 I'm not sure how you can run and talk though. It is so beautiful round there but I wonder if you would get a better time running round a city with more landmarks.x

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    1. It would undoubtedly be a faster race on a flat, road HM, or even a hilly road HM, but I wouldn't enjoy it half as much as cross country over tough terrain and big climbs. Thanks, my dear for the congrats xx

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  11. Really well done! It's sounds like you enjoyed yourself. I love the idea of running through a wildflower meadow. X

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    1. The flower meadow was really beautiful, all those colours, and we came upon it suddenly in the middle of no where- it was quite magical. X

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  12. Blinking fantastic! Well done, CT. That's a real achievement considering you've not been well and all those hills! Time for a little rest before the next one? xx

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    1. Thanks, Sam :o). Two weeks rest before the next HM. I've got th bug now! Xx

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  13. I am in total awe! I am not a natural runner but do love walking and once did 17 miles in four hours, not too shabby. You did brilliantly, especially after that bug, and looking at some of the terrain it would have been very hard on the legs. The views are so much better than the city marathons too!

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    1. I would find walking 17miles much harder than running it, so respect back to you :o). Running through the countryside is so special to me. I'm not a natural road runner, although I may try a couple of road halves in interesting cities just to tick them off the list!

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  14. Go you...that's amazing...I hope Ted has been keeping cool in the recent hot weather! x

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    1. Thank you! Yes, he's been lying flat out in the sun then coming indoors panting!

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  15. Hey CT,
    Get in!!!!
    A fantastic achievement!!
    Leanne xx

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    1. Thanks, chick. I'm looking forward to hearing all about Bristol in the autumn :o) xx

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  16. Ooh well done you! That's a splendid time for such a tough h
    alf xx

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    1. Thanks my dear- that means a lot coming from a fellow runner. Ps: huge respect to you for training on Butser! Is it for anything in particular? X

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    2. I am doing the Snowdonia Trail Marathon in 3 weeks time. Double gulp. I did Man v Horse 3 weeks ago which took me over 5 hours to do 23 less steep miles so I am estimating about 8 hours for the Snowdonia monster. I am going to be on my knees!! Do look up Man v Horse, I think it's right up your street. It's all off road and the views are stunning. A bunnch of us are going to do it again next year and hire a house for the weekend. You're more than welcome to join us :-) xx

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    3. Wow! Good luck. Let me know how you get on. I was looking at the Snowdonia Half last night thinking it might be one for next year. I've ridden in the man v horse - well done indeed on getting round, that is one tough race! Thank you for the invite, it sounds huge fun. X

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  17. That's a great achievement! The countryside looks very pretty, perfect for a run (minus the long uphills). I hope your body has recovered well. I haven't run a half marathon in 5 years. I had to attend the medical tent during the last one because I felt awful, walking the final 5 (long!) miles. Now I can't even run 5k... but working on it.

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    1. I fell asleep at 8.30 that night but woke up with no stiffness the next day so all good, thanks. Sorry to hear about your medical tent trip- they are tough races, these halves, and I have huge respect for anyone who does them. You'll know the old adage: train hard, race easy. You'll be back to 5k before you know it x

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  18. whoop whoop - well done m'dear....full credit to you. xxxxx

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  19. Well done, congratulations your achievements just get bigger and bigger! I am so impressed. Sarah x

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    1. Thank you, Sarah. We're down your way in August for the Bridport half. I think it may start near west bay xx

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Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x