Oh boy was I worried about this race! It came round much sooner than I was ready for, 10 miles of trails and hills around Polesden Lacey in Surrey where we have actually run once before back in 2014 at a night race, the blog of which can be found here if you’re interested.
Although my total weekly distance has been well planned and is increasing steadily and, crucially, slowly, it occurred to me that what I hadn’t planned quite so well was how much I was running in one go, and this was a big jump, from 10k to 10 miles and I was very aware that my knee has been struggling past about the 8/9 km point up to now. I wasn’t worried that I wouldn’t finish exactly, but about how hard I was going to find it, and what kind of condition I would be in when I finally crossed that line.
In the week leading up to the race I kept the running intensity low, doing a total of around 10km made up from a 5km run and 5km from the running done at bootcamp and ASPT circuits, so my legs were pretty fresh, although I had DOMS throughout my upper body thanks to a beasting at PT the day before.
At the start line I ran into my friend Chris, who in turn introduced me to his friend Graham, and we had a nice chat while we waited to start. We were caught right at the back of a huge mass of people at the start line, and couldn’t hear a word of the race briefing, but it was soon time to slowly edge over the start line. Starting at the back was an accident but it was actually a good move for me, as having to weave around people (and dogs – this race allowed canicross entries as well) stopped me from getting caught up in the starting rush and meant I couldn’t go off to fast.
I think worrying about the distance had put me in a bit of a dodgy place mentally and the first mile I wasn’t really enjoying myself, and rather than thinking about what was happening right then I was just worrying about how much further I had to go. I gave up on the first hill and started to walk near the top, glanced behind me and to my surprise saw Graham working to catch me up. He told me that Chris had injured himself early and dropped down to the short course and asked me if would I like some company. I happily agreed and this instantly turned my race around. Now I was plodding along at a comfortable pace, walking if we needed on some of the hills, stopping to take a few photos and having a lovely chat.
Having someone to talk to distracted me completely from having nothing to think about but feeling tired, achy, the distance and all the other self sabotaging thoughts that can run through your mind on a longer distance run and I started to really appreciate how beautiful the place we were running was, taking in the gorgeous views from the top of hills, pretty bluebell woodland trails, tree shaded paths and sun-kissed tracks.
As we cruised through the 10k point it occurred to me that I was still more or less pain free, my knee was holding up well with the slower pace. Having a running buddy had completely stopped me from pushing too hard and blowing up before the finish. I was still pain free as we came round past the big house towards the finish line, and it was with a huge smile on my face that I crossed the line and received my medal.
I had been told before that Maverick races were good, and this certainly lived up to the expectation, I enjoyed it immensely and am looking forward to the Kent race in September where I’ll be trying the longer distance. I only have two small criticisms, one, they need more portaloos! I was busting the whole race, and close to wishing I was a man and could just whip it out behind a tree and two, they should think about setting the Canicross runners off separately to the main body of runners, as navigating around other runners is hard enough, without adding in wayward dogs and dog leads – although once the pack thins out a bit this does become less of a problem.
All in all I would highly recommend these races and I’m sure to be doing more of them in the future, and I’ve learned that sometimes the best way to race is to take the time to stop and smell the bluebells!
Week 5 Running total: 27km