Thursday, 19 October 2017
New Forest Stinger
Apologies for my absence and if I've missed any of your posts. We've had no internet for a week, ironically because it was being upgraded to faster broadband! All working now and much faster than it was before so the delay was probably worth it.
L is happy. He dealt with the absence stoically, making sure he downloaded piles of books onto his kindle while at college :o). He has a reasonably light timetable this year so is often home during the day. This is lovely for me; he is very independent but it's just nice to have him around. This week, however, he elected to remain in college from dawn to dusk because they had internet connection. How quickly it has become an integral part of life.
It's damp here today and the dogs and I have already been out for a four-mile run round the misty, muddy fields, so I am feeling virtuous. Last weekend we raced in The Stinger, a run through the New Forest. I did the 5 mile and it was hard work! The course is off road and goes through some beautiful countryside around Acres Down and Minstead, and has a couple of good hills thrown in for good measure. We were warned by the race director to watch out for rutting deer (stags in autumn are dangerous beings) but we didn't see any deer anywhere, and only a handful of ponies who stared out as us from beneath dripping branches.
There weren't all that many competitors which surprised us, possibly because many had run in the Hampshire Cross Country League the day before. Romsey did well across the three disciplines of half marathon, ten and five mile races. It's been a good year for the club. Poor old Mark, a club member who ran an ultra marathon across Exmoor at the start of the year and then succumbed to Glandular Fever, is now struggling with post-viral fatigue. He ran the first five miles of the ten mile race then was forced to walk the remainder home. He still managed to do that in under two hours!
My race went well, although I didn't have masses of energy having upped my mileage last week. I kept a steady pace and managed to pull back some lost places by overtaking on the hills. The last mile contains the sting of the Stinger- it is uphill all the way (more or less). This is especially sneaky because the half mile before it is all downhill and therefore lulls you into a false sense of security. Not having run the race before, and making the school girl error of failing to check out the finish before we started, I happily flew along the final downhill, putting in my fastest km, confidently overtaking the man in front and then putting a good distance between us, before seeing the hill looming ahead.
It wasn't especially steep; it just went on, and on, and on. I ran quickly up the first half, then slowed down to pick my way through sections of mud and clay which really zapped my energy. There was one runner ahead who was walking and for a while as I trudged onwards, (still running but by this time at the kind of pace a child walking briskly could have overtaken), I did think I might catch him. If the race had been a mile longer I probably would have done it, but as it was I was forced to walk myself at that point or fall over and so the distance between us remained.
The final 200 metres was delineated by orange tape with the finish gantry visible as you turned the final corner. I managed to sprint over the line and although my time wasn't particularly speedy, I was thrilled to come second in my age category.
I'm now back to pondering a Spring marathon. You may remember I had Edinburgh all lined up and ready to go, but have more-or-less decided not to do it and to find a trail marathon instead. There are a few contenders: The Neolithic (if it runs) and Stroud, both in May, appeal to me. The first task is to get the training for the Grizzly underway (starts mid Dec), and see how I feel after the long miles start to kick in (my training programme has 16, 17, 19 and 20 mile runs in it), but it would be nice to have a focus for a marathon too. Luckily, now the internet is back, I can spend as many hours as I want researching interesting, gnarly trail runs :o)
Hope you're all well?