Over 900 people gathered at Broadlands country house estate this morning for the annual Romsey 5 mile race round the grounds. The sun shone and it was dry!
Romsey was full of runners when we arrived at nine, all heading over to the estate in a steady stream of brightly coloured lycra and happy, smiling faces (along with a few nervous ones from people who were running their first ever race).
I had my Little Miss Sunshine runners on and noted three other ladies with the same bottoms! (Good job it wasn't a wedding). A lovely lady came up to me at the end and said I've just got to tell you, I was behind you all the way round and I love your leggings! I'm going to get the Little Miss Naughty ones next, they are purple :o). I'm thinking I could make a killing producing funky, colourful, humorous running kit for women, so much of it is black and boring and us girls do like a splash of colour in our kit.
I'd decided to take it easy, given the recent cold and the more long-standing knee. M informed me he was going to run the first mile conservatively. Great, I said, we can run it together. Not that conservatively, was his charming reply :o)
It was very sociable: it being a local race, lots of our friends from various running clubs were there and the spectators along the route were a great bunch too - clapping, cheering and encouraging. There were also lots of little ones with their hands held out hopefully, eager to high 5 the runners as we went by. The beams on their littles faces whenever anyone high fived them made your heart glad.
I set off at a steady pace, felt a bit ropey for the first couple of miles and, as usual, what felt like the entire field streamed past me, but after two miles I'd warmed up and picked up the pace a little to try and catch up with our buddy Rich who had gone on ahead. Normally, I can beat him, but I've hardly run in the last two months and had no idea where his fitness level was, so I contented myself with keeping him in view, watching him to try and work out how much energy he had left and plan my strategy around that. My buddy Neil (in the pic above) had whizzed ahead and I knew there was no chance of catching him.
After three miles people began to tire and drop back and I started overtaking. As a race strategy this works for me. It's hard at the start when the pressure is on to race to resist it and keep steady, but if you can hold your nerve and conserve energy and then pick up the pace at the half way point when people are starting to fade it puts you in a mentally strong position, and much of racing is about the mental approach.
HOWEVER, I was not supposed to be racing AT ALL, so I thought I'll just set keeping up with Rich as a target and left it at that :o)
Mile three and all was going well. Mile four and I was feeling strong and my pace had gone up from 5:30 to 5:15/ km. I caught up with Rich and went past him, then he put on a spurt and went past me, but I could tell he was tiring so I trotted along behind him for a while and then at 4.5 miles went past, figuring if he picked up the pace I could sprint the last half mile relatively comfortably and come in ahead of him. I asked how he was. Knackered, came the reply. I was feeling fine, still had plenty of energy in the tank (thanks largely to running all those half marathons last year I think). Rich, however, had got his calculations wrong and thought we were into the last 200 metres. It is crushing in a race to realise you've mistimed your final sprint and have further to go than you think and when I told him (in reply to his question) where the finish was he groaned and fell back.
I pushed on, overtaking the folks in front without pushing the speed too much and crossed the line in about the time I'd set for myself. I wasn't tired but needed a few seconds to catch my breath so reckon I got the pace about right. I was very pleased. As for my husband, this experienced marathon runner had got so carried away with being back running he'd blasted out a 3:30 minute first km and then spent the rest of the race hanging on for dear life, coming in behind his friend and arch rival. He still finished in a very respectable time but I enjoyed teasing him about the school boy error in his race strategy :o)
After the race, we went to the coffee shop for celebratory tea and cake with our chums from another running club then headed home. Once there, I noticed a bee caught in a spider web. I thought he was dead, but when I touched him with my finger he wiggled his legs feebly. I managed to extricate him from the sticky web and he sat on my finger looking exhausted. The usual blob of rescue honey (wildflower this time) did the trick, and then I was left with my usual bee rescue dilemma- a bee happily eating honey on my finger while I had things to do. After ten minutes he'd had enough food, had a good clean then buzzed off happily towards the daphne flower.
A happy running race and a happy rescued bee. All is well with the world.
Hope you've all had a lovely weekend,