After abstaining from running for 9 days (see previous blog) I was chomping at the bit and laced up my trainers (new Hoka One One) for a chatty parkrun with my friend Ros. Ros and I chatted our way around the friendly Fareham parkrun, at one point she asked if we were running fast and glancing at my watch I lied and said not especially! Think it was a course pb for her, she is on fire at the moment and I love running with her. I was on a runners’ high for the rest of the day basically boring everyone with how happy I was.
The next day I was up and heading over to race HQ for my duty as Sweeper for the Meon Valley Marathon. In my kit I had various essentials for myself and any runners that may need a little help – mainly sweets, gloves (eGlove of course!) and ibugel - oh, and tissues! It was a glorious day as the runners met in the hall and Phil Hoy gave the runners the final brief and asked us all to make a note of his mobile for the duration of the race. This is a tough course and he wanted the assurance that we would all look out for each other and if things got desperate we could contact him or the medic.
The start of the race is on the Meon Valley Trail for a few hundred metres before we take a right hand turn and head up towards Old Winchester Hill. There had been some rain the day before but the ground was perfect and the weather was pretty good in the early stages. Myself and Dean had the role of taking down lots of orange ribbon that had been placed on the course the day before (by Dean!) and scrubbing off the markings on the trail and taking signs along to drop off at each marshal station. This meant that we were going along at a steady pace and ended up covered in orange ribbon. Dean was also having to use pliers to remove some of the signs that had been tacked to posts – our eGloves came in handy for this task – no cold hands and no splinters either.
The route winds through many shared paths and as sweepers we also had to ensure that every gate was closed behind us. Sometimes this meant that we ended up in a field way up high above the church of East Meon full of cows and bulls! Luckily they weren’t that bothered about us and our neon signs. Bearing in mind that I had had 9 days rest my legs were totally fine, especially the knee. I can only think that the rest and yoga etc paid dividends. Some runners were struggling in the second half of the race and made the decision to stop and get taken back to base by the marshals. We had instructions to encourage the runners to get back to race HQ by 4:30 – effectively before it got dark. This meant we had to have a pace of at least 15 min miles and with the hills that this run has that can be a challenge.
The second half of the run has some pretty challenging ups but some great downs too and the views as the sun was setting were just fabulous. There was a chilly wind too, so I was particularly glad that I had chosen to run with the eGlove Winter Elite – nice and warm! All the marshals were brilliant, lots of them popping up in two places throughout the day and yet they were always smiling and wrapped up warm. The light was starting to fade as we made our way along a track towards Meonstoke and then suddenly there is the field and the finish, we made it! The medal was an unexpected bonus and it is a pretty sizeable one too. The post run chilli and chat was great, everyone pleased to have finished and comparing notes. The rain started as we left and the temperature dropped. I love trail running and love this part of the world, just being out there in such a spectacular Autumn is uplifting and that together with completing the run with no pain made for a brilliant day. I am looking forward to running this route again.
Much stretching and elevation of my legs when I returned home. I am continuing with the Glucosamine with Chondritin – it could be a placebo who knows! The biggest thing for me was that after a 9 or 10 day break I didn’t lose anything major in terms of fitness, it didn’t hurt and if anything, it made me love running even more.
Sometimes rest is best!