|Hot and hard work up the second big hill, but at least it's in the shade...|
M and I have run sections of the route before, last November when Poppy came with me and did her first competitive half marathon for example, so we knew what to expect (ish), however, we couldn't have prepared for the weather which reached sauna-like proportions very early on.
About 80 of us gathered on a lane in the village to hear the RD give the pre-race briefing, then we were off. The first mile was entirely up hill through shady woods. Got the glutes firing at any rate! After that we emerged out into the open, to beautiful farmland and boiling hot weather. I had no energy, possibly because I did the 20 miler on Tuesday, but also because of the weather. I reappraised my run strategy and decided I would take it as an amble and just clock up the miles without worrying about the time.
Lovely friend Small P was there and we ran/ walked most of the race together, chatting. It made it an all-round lovely experience and was so nice to catch up with a friend I hadn't seen since the Bad Cow half back in April.
At one point I was struggling to get my breath and felt a bit light headed. It was very muggy as well as roasting and I don't think we were getting an awful lot of oxygen into our lungs. We were crossing an open field and the heat was like a furnace, you could feel it rising from the ground below as well beating down on you from above. I slowed down to a walk and then stopped entirely for a moment hoping the feeling would pass. You have to respect hot weather when you're running. A jelly baby, an electrolyte capsule and some water all helped and soon I was feeling well again.
After that things got easier. It always takes me a while to warm up and by six miles in I had started to feel better and got into a better running rhythm and did less walking. Even so, it took the best part of two hours for Small P and I to get round.
When we got back to the village M was at the finish with Abz and Hannah who had also run it and the three of them whooped us in. We all agreed, as we sat in the village hall on plastic chairs tucking in to the feast that had been laid out for us of fruit cake and sliced mars bars and bananas and bowls of fruit salad, and drinking pints of fruit squash rattling with big chunks of ice cubes, that in weather like that you've done well just to get round.
We had a nice conversation with the organisers who were reminiscing about marathons they'd done in the past as they cheerfully topped us up with drinks from plastic village hall jugs and handed round plates of frozen grapes. It was all very lovely and just the sort of event I love: low key, no fuss, no fanfares, and a proper, tough, gnarly course to enjoy running round in fantastic countryside, with a hearty tea in the village hall for when you come home.
I loved it and would do it again. Even better, it's the first testing trail run I've done in six months and my knee coped. Just as well because the next marathon is on trails. After yesterday's experience though I have decided if it is mega hot I'll scale down to the 10k. Absolutely no point pushing a marathon in really hot weather, not when there are so many to choose from and I've another booked for September anyway :o).
Happy Days. Hope you are all well, my friends?