Sunday, 29 March 2009

The Long & Winding Road

It's done. I've survived. Have put the last long race to bed for the spring and can stop messing about trying to race every distance under the sun. The glorious morning started with the harsh sound of the alarm at 6am; just not a time to be getting up on a Sunday. My fears about being blown about were quickly dispelled with the warm welcome of bright sunshine and a beautiful, still & frosty morning to greet us as we set out on the road to Wilmslow. Have been feeling anxious about this race for weeks - my running mojo has just not been quite right since early February; I keep finishing down on my usual form in races and have seen no signs of this fatigue passing in recent weeks.

Despite the anxieties I really wanted to run this event, it being the English Half Marathon Championships for 2009. There seem to be so few opportunities to run in championship events on the roads that I couldn't pass up this opportunity to be out there with the big guns. I wasn't disappointed as the turnout was as classy as I'd expected in what was a fantastic race all round. Traffic jams around the venue led to a bit of a frantic warm up and I was quickly ready for the race start, managing to secure a great position on the line; about 4 in from the front line. The pace was blistering from the gun - I clocked 4.44 on my Garmin on the starting straight and so tried hard to put the brakes on & not blow my legs early on. I then sat in for a comfortable 7 miles with Kim Fawke in my line of sight with the pace feeling good; 5.48's meant I was on target given the faster first half of this undulating course.

Mile 8 arrived and my legs very slowly began to remind me of my worries; I wasn't in shape for matching my time in January. I quickly felt the familiar tying up of right glute & hamstring complete with sciatic nerve pain - a legacy from Snake Lane 10 in February. My left calf was also unhappy and I soon felt like I was running backwards with nothing but discomfort and fatigue for the long 5 miles home. I tried to keep working and not lose it too much but lost pace on the final miles and am left feeling a bit disheartened that I can't seem to shake this ongoing fatigue. Was well down on my run of sub 77 mins in January despite being a further 3 months on. Had I equalled my last run on this lovely course today I would have been 3rd lady, coming home with the English Championship Bronze. Gutted. Anyway, it wasn't to be. Still managed to drag myself in 5th lady overall and the generous cash prize (£150!) brought some cheer to my ugly face having lost out so painfully on a much coveted medal.

I'm kind of chuffed with the position if not the time so will scoop myself out of this self pity just to say that this was a really lovely race. It was incredibly well organised and a really prestigious event. There was plenty of support from the parties of marshals; impressively organised at every mile of the race. The rafts of colourful balloons tied to every lamppost for the first 2 and the final 3 miles of the course added to the buoyant atmosphere and I felt glad I'd made the journey over. M's early morning 'team Runningbear' support, coat holding and hugs at the end did much to make me feel lucky to have such a supportive and wonderful man in my life. He has such a lot to put up with and still manages to find a positive in my darkest of moods. I couldn't do it without him, and definitely not today.

Thanks to Wilmslow for a lovely race, would recommend this to anyone who fancies a long one on the road next spring. The winding and undulating course kept me interested and distracted through the 13.1 miles of toil today. An easy week coming up. Will try to rest up and prepare myself for the blistering pace of the Northern Road Relays next weekend. Watch this space.


Anonymous said...

Well done Sarah another fantastic run, a time that we all dream about. Shame about the bronze but I think you're right about targeting so many different distances. Also did you see the time of the winning lady? - scary!!! In terms of training: I think the 17 miler with 3x2mile efforts did the business last time for the Brass Monkey (on top of all the other training of course). Well done on winning all that dosh! (wonder what the winning lady got - a porsche or something?!!). Chin up; relays to focus on now.

Runningbear said...

Thanks Tricky for the upbeat message. Feel wasted after the race so will focus on recovery and running in a great team event this Sunday. Hope you've recovered from your run in with Mr Goose.

ultra collie said...

hey runningbear, id say you did bloody well! ok not up to the standards you'd set but 5th aint that bad with such a good field. i reckon it'll spur you on too. we all need the lows to appreciate the highs..and today didnt sound too low. glad you thought the race was good too. its a local-ish one for me and ive never done it!! well done!

kate said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kate said...

well done on the result, despite missing out on the podium! anything can happen on race day, but i'm sure you know that. don't let your head get the better of you. the results speak for themselves :) much cake can you buy for £150?

Runningbear said...

Thanks guys, U R right UC, lows & highs are necessary. Still came away glad I'd done it - maybe see you there next year.
I think my winnings will cover my cake expenses for a couple of weeks at least! I will of course, pay special attention to refuelling after the big event ;)

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