|At the start: a bit blurry, but still beautiful|
It took me almost a half-mile to get the Garmin sorted and by that time, I had become mired in the midst of some slower runners who were using the flat, stone-free part of the path, forcing anyone who wanted to overtake them onto the cambered, rocky sides. Which, to the detriment of my blister, I did. I don't remember the paths being that rocky the last time that I did this HM, but I really struggled on them today. It was hard to keep my footing and the glare of the low sun immediately in front of us made it hard to see what was happening on the ground. I went over on both of my ankles a couple of times, one of which elicited a loud 'Whoa!' from the two people behind me. Still, it could have been worse. I saw a woman after the race with bruising and cuts to her face from a fall. I felt like an idiot, but at least I wasn't injured.
|Get. Out. Of. My Way.|
I also enjoyed the downhill bits. Normally I brake and hold myself back and thud and jar my way to the bottom of a hill. Today, though, I focused on light, quick steps and on relaxing my ankles and knees. I tried to keep my hips over my ankles rather than sitting back which meant that it felt like I was leaning down the hill. Initially scary but then it felt very joyful. My knee held up just fine, and I overtook lots of folk. Yay!
And then we were onto the road section. I like road running and it was nice to be away from the rocks, and it felt like I picked up the pace. I know that this race is advertised as mostly downhill, but IT ISN'T. And I am convinced that the first 3 miles on the road consist of a slow, steady incline. I think that I hated this section last time but today I enjoyed it. I didn't struggle at all and, despite the blisters (by now, there was one on the other foot as well), steadily overtook people. UNTIL...
Both lanes of the road are open during the race, and there are traffic cones along the left side to create a safe corridor for runners. Last time, there was often room for at least two runners which allowed for overtaking. Today, though, there were a lot of sections where there was only room for one runner and the marshalls were keeping an eagle eye out for people running outwith the cones so again, if you got stuck behind someone going slower than you, you were out of luck. I did at one point leap from the road to the verge where there was a small path through the grass but this was too uneven for me to run on and, more importantly, that leap tweaked my knee. Aaarrrggghhh!
By mile 8, my knee had developed a spectacular cramp that extended from mid-calf to mid-thigh. I normally can run through things like this but it started to feel like my knee was going to give way beneath me. After a a couple of times where it felt like it had started to buckle, I eventually had to stop twice to give it a good stretch. The cramping carried on until about mile 10, but I womanfully ran through it and then it disappeared as quickly as it started. Go figure.
The last three miles were great! I felt strong, my cardio was not a problem, and NOW it was all downhill! I overtook more people, waved at the marshalls and spectators, sang along to the songs on my iPod, dodged children on their bikes who seemed to view the runners as an obstacle course, resisted the urge to look at my Garmin, and generally felt very happy indeed. I had a brief moment of thinking that I was going to fall when I ran across the grass to the finishing line because it was quite bumpy, but I managed to finish upright and smiling.
There isn't a visible digital timer for this race - what there is, is a man with a stop watch taking a very loose measure of when people cross the finishing line (gun time), as well as timing chips for a more accurate record. I checked my Garmin and I crossed the line in 2:08; add in another 5ish for the very beginning of the race, and I expected to come in around 2:13ish. Not the best time in the world, but okay for me. However, I felt so despondent when I checked the online results and found myself with a time of 2:16ish. Grump grump moan moan, completely forget how great I felt for most of this race and focus on numbers numbers numbers. Such a healthy attitude...but THEN I found out that the online time is most likely the gun time which means that my chip time should be a bit faster...it really shouldn't matter, but it does.
So that's it. I'm now at home, icing my knee and cursing the blisters, which hurt way more than my knee does, and waiting for the chip times to be posted. I ran this race the way that I wanted, doing my best to be fully present and noticing and appreciating everything; even though I wish that I had been faster, I like that I ended my year of Fun Running by...having fun!
|But now, it's time for a rest!|