Tuesday 24 May 2011

Now to get stuck in for real

Well, it looks like things have finally settled down so I can get back to running for the sake of running. There are still a few donations trickling in, but the final total (including Gift Aid) appears to be somewhere in the region of £5,200 which is quite frankly astonishing. Thankyou again to everybody for all of your support and donations. It has gone to an amazing cause and I am incredibly proud to have been able to help the Epilepsy Society in their amazing work. There is one final interview coming out as well, which should be in the August edition of the American version of Runners World. How the American version picked it up I have no idea!

Right. Everybody is probably sick of me talking about that run. So onto a different subject; more races!

First up, I have been back to full training for the past few weeks. Running through the middle of nowhere has given me a bit of a taste for it, so I have now gotten into the habit of exploring a bit more. For the past few weeks, I have been exploring the local countryside and found some great trails to run which are a little more exciting than my usual run along the Cambridge guided bus way. Since it looks like they are actually doing some work on it now, this is quite fortuitous timing for me! It does mean that my route to and from work is off limits for the next month or so while they tarmac the cycle path, but once it's done it should make cycling to work a lot easier and less likely to kill me. I usually ride down the bus track, which is very narrow with quite a drop - very difficult to negotiate particularly in the dark and with crazy crosswinds! But now I will have a proper cycle track to cruise down which will be nice! In the meantime, exploring is a lot of fun, and there are a lot of open fields and things around which make it easy to disappear off for a few hours and get a good run in.

Last weekend, I ran my first race since London. This was the Sawston Fun Run, a little ~5 miler in the village that we lived in until moving to St. Ives last year. It has been an oddly long time since I ran such a "short" distance (I realise my perception of distance may be a little skewed...), so I was interested to see what my speed was like. I don't really do much speed work, as I very rarely run less than 12 miles at a time. The weather was pretty much perfect, sunny but with a light breeze. I lined up with the other runners, positioning myself near the front, but nervous to position myself with the "elite" runners. As it turns out, this was a slight mistake as I had to negotiate through a small crowd of people to get into my stride which slowed me down a little bit. As we came out of the college where the start line was held, I found myself in a small pack of runners at the front of the race. The pace was pretty good, at around 6 minutes a mile. I wasn't really sure on pacing for this - it felt like I could push it further but I wasn't sure what I could maintain for 5 miles. Plus the fact that I had run about 42 miles over the previous 2 days made me a bit nervous about pushing it too much... I kept this pace throughout the race, running past my old house (which was a little odd), and along the high street with lots of cheering faces spurring everybody on. I kicked in towards the end, and pushed for a faster finish as we approached the line. I overtook a couple of people, and felt a pang of guilt as I shot past a young kid who had been ahead of me through much of the race. My sprint finish wasn't quite enough to take the final guy, and I crossed the line slightly behind him in a time of 30:03 - not quite the sub 30 mins that I had hoped for, but about 2 minutes faster than last year's efforts. I found out I had actually come 11th overall, so was doubly annoyed that I could have been in the top 10 if I had been a couple of seconds faster. I definitely felt that I could have pushed the pace, so I know now for next time. I had a chat to the guy that won, in a fantastic time of just over 25 minutes. I can safely say that there is no chance of me pushing to this pace! But it is nice to know that I have the speed in me if I need it.

The next week, I started to add a bit of speedwork to my runs, finding a small hill nearby to my house and running a 10 miler followed by 20 minutes of hill sprints. It's probably a good idea to make this a regular thing, so I can push for that top 10 place next time! Jen told me off for being so negative about the race, but I prefer to think of it as planning ahead to do better on my next race!

Speaking of which, my race calendar is looking very full right now! On top of the various marathons, half-marathons and 10 Ks I am signed up for, I have just signed up to a whole heap of ultras as well. My first will be the Shires and Spires 35 miler in Northants in two weeks time, which I am really looking forward to. This will be my first opportunity to test myself against other like minded people. I am really looking forward to taking part in my first official ultra. This race is part of the Run Further UK Ultrarunning Championships, which is a series of 12 races throughout the year of various distances. You run as many as you want, and your top 4 scores (1 from each of the three distance classes, plus 1 more) are used to give you a placing in the championship table. I am signed up to four of these, which is just enough to get a placing. I'm not expecting to be placed particularly highly but I am quite excited to see how I do! The nice thing about this series is that it is organised by ultrarunners for ultrarunners, which is a real testament to the ethos behind the sport. These guys don't do it for fame or for the money, they do it for love of the sport. I had a small taste of fame - and I didn't like it much! Give me running in anonymity with other like-minded nutters, thankyou very much!