So much for the forecast, it ended up as mid to high twenties and almost no breeze. Desperately hot for running up hills, much like last year.
Fun run kicked off at 2:30pm, with nearly two hundred runners, mostly kids and mostly doing it a lot faster than I could. That include some of the nine year-olds from my youngest son’s class!
Challenge started at about 3pm. Started near the back and at what I felt was a comfortable pace. First km is flat, second km is up Stonebarrow Lane. All tarmac, all uphill. Halfway up and my heart rate was already sky high. I guess it’s just natural that when you run with others you run faster, so even though I ended up walking some of it I still did the km in 8m 16s which is easily a minute quicker than training pace. Classic case of starting too fast? It’s hard to judge the best pace in this, whether to start fast or take it easy and save energy? Honestly, by the time you get to the next climb your knackered regardless of how much you think you have saved.
Next three km are a mix of gentle climb, flat and steep downhill. Some queueing to get over stiles gave me an enforced rest. Then the fun really starts, the climb up to Golden Cap. Very similar to last year. Tried to run it but the best pace that I could manage was only marginally quicker than those who were walking. So I joined them. Ran some of the less steep bits, walked the rest all the way up to the trig point. By the time I got to the start of the descent from Golden Cap my thighs felt like jelly!
After the descent the race joined the coast path at St Gabriels. At this point I was pretty much even with last year’s time, but I was running on empty. You can see from the splits below comparing last year and this that I lost all my time from kilometer 8 onwards. (Click on it for a clearer view). It’s not just the big climb back up Stonebarrow Hill, it’s the smaller hills in between that really sap you. Ideally when running I’m comfortable with a heart rate between 165 and 170, but my average for the race was something like 173bpm, and peaked a few times at about 180. On the way back from Golden Cap I thought it best to ease off a bit whenever it got over 175. This is undoubtedly where I lost the time, payback for starting too quick?
On one of these hills I passed a runner who was down, but waving everyone past saying she was ok. Heard later that she had tripped coming over one of the stiles and badly hurt her ankle. As this part of the course is inaccessable by road, I think they might have called out the air ambulance. Not sure.
Walked quite a bit on the last climb and struggled on the downhill finish as legs were really shot. Finished in 1 hr 31m 32s. Slower than last year, but probably better than expected so ok with that.
Fire brigade were on hand as usual to cool down the finishers.
Took a long time to recover. Really, really exhausted and a quite wobbly. And I wasn’t the only one. Anne took the pic below of Gerry Bearpark and me trying to get ourselves back to normality. There were 248 finishers, I was officially 192nd.
Maybe next year will be cooler? Here’s hoping.