Toilet issues aside, it was brilliant to see so many Hedgies turn up for the event and everyone smiling and cheerful despite the rather depressing weather. After warming up, we headed to the start. I decided to position myself fairly near the front (but far enough away from the ‘almost elites’ so that I wouldn’t get laughed at). Jostling elbows with people, we waited.
And then we were off!
Despite telling myself multiple times not to go off too fast, I went off too fast. Splashing away through puddles, trying desperately not to fall over in the crowds of people, I decided not to look at my Garmin and just go with how I felt. Anyway I was too busy looking at my feet and the precariously terrain to navigate my sleeve and watch. But I knew I’d set out too fast. I told myself to just hold on for as long as possible.
A fellow Hedgie (Michelle) was just ahead of me and going a good pace so I decided to stick behind her so I wouldn’t have to think too much. Alas though her shoelace became undone and she had to duck to the side. This meant I had to pace myself, which is never good.
After about a mile a guy I know from Stubbington loped next to me and did a casual “Oh hey Anna” and then loped off ahead seemingly effortlessly. I grimaced at his back, feeling the burn in my legs and lungs already. This was going to be a tough one.
The course had several twists and turns and a thick spread of mud. I cursed my choice of trainers (road shoes) as I slipped and slided about. It was tricky to overtake, it required very careful planning. Snot rockets flew all over the place from various people around me but I kept focused on a) not falling over and b) not dying. Thankfully there were only a few hills. I tried to pretend it was just a slightly longer (and muddier) Parkrun as that voice in my head (you know the voice) told me I should just slow down and take it easy.
I had no awareness of where the course would end (would it ever end? my legs despaired) and only knew vaguely it was 4-5 miles long. My watch had beeped a few times already – surely we must be done soon??
As we ran down to the seafront bit for the second time I thought we could potentially have two more hills as I couldn’t work out where the finish was. I told myself to expect the course to go up to the Bluebell woods so I could prepare myself.
Amazingly it was only one hill. One of the marshals shouted “only 300m left”. I could see the finish (round a few bends yet though). And I could hear Karen shouting in the distance “Come on, Anna!”
Head down, focus on running. Go! Go! Go! [Quick notice of photographer – ack, that’s going to be a bad one…] AND FINISH!
After a moment of respite (read: stop feeling sick) I handed in my number in surprise – was I really 10th female? The hard work was definitely worth it!
But the most important part of the evening? The cakes ;-)