Sunday, 2 July 2017
Running Five Miles Through The Forest
We set off bright and breezy this morning after a family party last night to run the Sway 5, a cross country race through Wilverley enclosure in the New Forest. The Sway 5 is part of Sway village's carnival week and as we arrived the kids' fun run was starting- the first group of small people went storming off round the plains followed by the second lot, even smaller (about four and five years old) who took a slightly shorter route. It was Very Serious, judging by the looks of determination on the young faces, and the exhausted puffing of their parents who were trying to keep up with them. They each got a medal at the end which were immediately hung proudly round necks. Lovely.
The oldies set off at 10.30, by which time the heat was building. Luckily we went straight into the trees and shade, where we followed gravelled forest tracks up and down hills for about four miles. I set off too fast and paid for it, struggling to keep up for two and half miles before giving myself a stern talking to and pulling back, letting the two guys who'd vied for position with me over the last mile go ahead.
Immediately I felt more comfortable, although today the energy just wasn't there in my legs. We came out of the forest at mile four onto the pony-cropped short grass of Wilverley Plain. I set my sights on two New Forest Runners who were a couple of hundred metres ahead and slowly worked off the distance between us until I'd caught up. Then I had a small dilemma- did I go past and risk them overtaking me or did I sit on their heels until the finish was in sight and then kick on?
The decision was taken out of my hands when I realised they were running too slowly for me to pace them comfortably, so I went past, trotted down the hill, crossed over a wooden bridge and was then faced with a small but sharp hill. A kindly marshal was waving us on from the top where the path turned sharp right apparently into a gorse bush. A tiny wee pony path opened up through the holly and gorse bushes, this is typical of the new forest and many of them are not to be trusted as they have a tendency to peter out with no warning. This one went wavering along up hill for most of the final mile. Sometimes it split in two, one taking higher ground and one dipping lower. I plumped for the more direct lower path the first time and ended up jumping over a muddy puddle. The next time I took the more uphill track through the sandy forest soil.
I could hear someone behind me for the final mile but couldn't judge how far away he was. This kept me going even though it was hard work and to be honest I felt like walking! I gave myself a stern talking to, while the sun beat down on my head, reminding myself that I'd run 13 miles last week over much tougher hills than these and there was no way I was going to allow 5 miles through the forest to beat me.
It worked. I kept going and no one over took me.
Eventually we rounded a corner and the finish was in sight. There was a man in a triathlon all-in-one suit ahead of me so I picked up the pace to see whether I could catch him, but he was just that bit too far ahead and my legs were just that bit too knackered. M and F were at the finish roaring me in, so I put on a sprint to keep them happy but I was very glad when I crossed the finish line and could stop running.
Having expected to have done badly, given how much hard work the race had felt, I was surprised to see I was only 20 seconds off my 5 mile PB.
How has your weekend been? Hope you've all had a lovely one.