No, I’m not running away, but I have been running, away from home.
For the past week I’ve been on a business trip to the UK. This was arranged relatively recently and I had to try to fit as many days here as possible. This meant a weekend away was involved due to too many other commitments restricting when I could travel.
What to do when you’re away from home on a weekend? Find a race of course.
It just so happened that the Hoohaah Wimpole Half Marathon was taking place just a few miles from my mum’s house. Once I had worked out a definite plan to head there for at least part of the weekend, I registered for the race.
I knew the course was multi terrain, which isn’t at all what I am used to, and not my preference most, if not all, of the time. I’ve pretty much limited the number of cross country races I do because I don’t particularly get on well with them, but I needed a reasonably fast run of this sort of distance for my marathon training so thought it was a good way to get that done. I also seem to be addicted to half marathons as alluded to in a recent post with this adding half number 5 to a period covering 6 weekends.
Having set the scene I now come to admit that I struggled on this course. It seems like I went out quite fast but a fair amount of the first section was on road so that’s probably part of it. Once it went off the road the difference was dramatic, particularly because of the large loose stones that definitely forced everyone to run slower. Then there were the hills. This is probably what got to me most in the end. I guess I haven’t been training on hills enough. Even before the 8 mile point I was partly walking up hills.
For a few miles I had company and we were pushing each other to a decent pace, but as we climbed one of the hills I faded dramatically and for a long time the distance between us seemed to increase. As we came into the last 5k or so, there he was again, fading, as was I, just more dramatically. I tried to encourage him to keep with me which he tried to do for a little while. At this point I was hurting but I was determined to keep the pace so did my best to push the last of the energy from my legs. I did get passed by one more runner before the end, but as I came down towards the finish, a spectator told me I was in 13th place (I had thought there were more people ahead, and there probably were because there was also a 10 mile option which started in the same pack). My time was about 6 minutes slower than my latest half marathon times – with the caveat that they were on flat courses.
Results were easy to check at the computer by the finish and on reviewing that I saw that I was 2nd place in the 40 – 49 category, and 13th overall. As the awards for categories were for 1st place I decided to leave – mostly because I had to get back to Oxford by a certain time. It turns out I should have stayed, as the 1st in my category was actually 3rd overall, so I ended up with the award for 1st in category. At least they are nice enough to be sending the awards out so I’m glad I got in touch and gave them a UK address to send it to rather than them either not sending or having the expense of a US shipment.
Despite how tough I found it, I did actually enjoy the experience and it was well organized. It probably helped that it was a beautiful day and the course wasn’t waterlogged or muddy but I think I’d still do a Hoohaah event again if I had the chance even if that was the case.