What do sane people do on the hottest weekend of the year during a 31 degree heat wave? They decide to run back-to-back races of course.
On Saturday, we headed off to the Serpent Trail with friend B to tackle a half marathon through the Greensands of the Surrey/ Hampshire border. The coach (no air con and an almost-accident on the way that had all the runners gasping and being generally flung about) picked us up at the finish and drove us the 13 miles to Midhurst where it dropped us off at a pub by the side of a dusty road, leaving the 100+ runners to make their own way back along the trail to Petersfield....
It was bloody boiling. Lots of stretches with no shade. Even hotter than last weekend's ten miler along the south downs way and that was roasting. Did I mention the race started at midday?
It wasn't massively hilly, but the undulations were enough to make me walk (as was the blistering heat at times). I didn't expect to do a particularly competitive time given the conditions so was astonished to come home 26th. Dead chuffed with that, especially as in the second half I was overtaking lots of people who were groaning that the heat had finished them off. Thank you, long mile marathon training in the heat :o)
There were also 50k (30 mile) and 100k (60 mile) ultras going on. Not surprisingly, most of the 100k runners pulled out leaving just 14 hardy souls who completed the distance, having set off at 6am. Four of our friends did the 50k, including one who was running his first ultra. They got home in 6-7 hours. Full credit to them. What an amazing achievement! M blasted his way round into first place, hopefully signalling an end to his recent period of injury. We were all pretty thrilled with our achievements.
|Cheering on our friends who were about to complete their 30 mile race at 4.30pm, having started running at 10am.|
|A nice race t-shirt to add to the collection|
|Oscar, who was chief support dog while his uncle ran the ultra|
Today, because we hadn't had enough of running through the parched countryside in blistering heat, we made our way down into deepest, darkest, Dorset to do WSR's Piggy Plod 10k. I am a complete convert to White Star Racing ever since they looked after me so well at Dorchester.
We met up with friends Richard and Jackie from New Forest Runners at the start. Everyone was laughing cheerfully about the heat (the best way to deal with it was to not be scared. Not admitting to it, at any rate)....
|White Star medal collection|
Then we were off, running out of the farm yard into the golden fields. Somehow, I found myself in ninth place as the field began to spread out. I could see M way ahead leading the runners along the side of the field and thought to myself he's on for another podium place but, more excitingly (not really, but you know what I mean!) there was only one other lady ahead of me. She was way off though so I knew I wouldn't catch her, but still, to be in second position for the female half of the race was very cheering.
The race was two laps round the farm's fields. Much of it was out in the open in the blistering sun with no shade and there were also two or three reasonable hills. I slowed my pace after the first couple of miles, remembering I had run a testing half marathon in 31 degree heat yesterday, but even so I was feeling pretty damn good, no sign of those 13 miles in my legs at that stage and all was going well (if baking hot).
The heat was rising from the ground as well as hammering down on our heads and after a while I could hear breathing on my shoulder and a lady overtook me, panting heavily. Oh well, I thought, plenty of time to catch her.
I tried to settle down into finding my rhythm but it takes me 6-10 miles to warm up and get into my stride these days and this race would be over in 6 miles. My usual strategy with longer races is to start slow then when I've warmed up after a few miles pick up the pace and run the second half faster than the first. There just isn't enough time or miles in a 10K to do that, so the best I could do was to try and keep up the pace without killing myself with heat stroke.
I had my water pack on so didn't need to stop at the water stations unlike the lady in front and twice I overtook her as she stopped to rehydrate, but each time she came back. Fair play to her. If I hadn't had the half marathon in my legs I could probably have fought back and overtaken her to claim 2nd place, but to be honest, a 10k race however lovely is not high on my list of target runs this year and to push myself too far in the heat for the difference between 2nd and 3rd would have been silly, so I contented myself with overtaking two tired chaps in front, checking to make sure lady #4 wasn't anywhere near and settled for 3rd placed lady which also turned out to be 10th overall.
Even more so when I discovered M had repeated his feat from yesterday and won the race!
Our prizes were a choice of WSR race shirts....
And a hilarious piggy buff each....
I think this is the result of all the marathon training and enjoying the longer distances. It's made me stronger, fitter and more endurance-proof than I've ever been.
Hope all have had a good weekend? What about England and the footie eh? Fabulous! (even to a non football watcher for 99% of the time :o). Come on, lads!