To race or not to race?

I was nervous starting race 6 of Foxtrail’s winter series. Nervous not about the race but about the pace I’d inevitably run it in. Back when I entered this I had planned to run it, then the next day get my long run in. Planning ultra training is hard. But as usual plans change and I was to run my long ru,n and longest long run, before the Ultra on that Saturday. Not wanting to miss out, these races are my favourite, and I’d missed most of the series due to Rugby days away, I definitely wanted to run it. So my plan was hatched and I’d run, then after I’d continue to run my long run. Simple!

My long runs these days have been about 6-6:30 min/km but I definitely didn’t think I’d do that. Instead I thought I’d just stay mid field and see what pace that was. 

The registration was swift as ever and quick chat with Bob I was ready to warm up. This is a friendly race and very well organised. The team at Foxlake are enthusiastic, nice folk who really love to put on events like this. And it shows. 

The rain was battering down, it was forecast to do this most of the morning. Perfect for a trail race you could argue. It had been all night, so I was expecting to get muddy and wet. Something I’ve missed of late with my running. I didn’t know what to wear for the race as I didn’t want to get wet just to slow my pace and get cold. So decided to keep my waterpoof on but lose layers underneath. 

I put my running vest which was carrying my spare road shoes and extra warm clothing, food and water into the baggage area then mustered at the start. Usual chats and good luck with folk and after a warm up we were off. 

I’d positioned myself in the middle of the pack and it was good going 4:15/4:30 pace. This was too fast if I was to get to Prestonpans after the race. I slowed down a tad but I kept on getting carried away. I decided to run to feel and make sure I was below threshold at all times. 

This seemed to work but I was still 4:45min/km. My HR monitor slid to my waist. Really annoying me so decided to stop and fix that with the thought I’d get some runners who were going at a more reasonable pace to pace me. It took me a while to fiddle with the strap, I got asked if I was OK? “Yes, fine cheers” see, nice and friendly race. 

I started running again, this time slower. The HR strap wasn’t right so just plodded on. I was running to feel anyway so didn’t need it. 

We’d ran around the farmers fields, mud clinging to my shoes, I’d noticed that my wee niggles weren’t there, and I couldn’t feel the nippy hamstring I’d been getting. I put it down to trail, as most of my runs these days are on solid ground. And also perhaps my Mudclaws which have little drop. 

I was enjoying the course, running past some llamas, ostriches and other animals of strange non local description. Over the bridge, the leaders were just on their way back. They were looking strong. I ran steady and kept it to a nice underthreshold pace. I was starting to overtake people. But this was ok as I was going steady. The turnaround point a marshal had music from a speaker. Brilliant I thought. She was so happy to be there in the rain! It definitely perked me up a bit. 

I over took some more, a lass spoke to me and said she’d try to keep up, she probably thought she was slowing but actually I was probably speeding up. We chatted for a bit but she eventually dropped off, I felt a bit guilty as I was very much in my comfort zone, which was good as I had a long way to run after this! 

The beach / dune sections of this area are great, the going was good and the wind at our backs. The folks at Foxtrail make great courses, constantly changing and keeping it interesting across so many different surfaces. Mainly designed to get you muddy 🙂

The forest section was strange, eerily quiet, you can see other runners in the distance through the trees going a different way, then a guy on a Segway would be standing there telling you which way to go. 

The last section along the estuary was muddy and rollercoaster undulating. My legs were getting tired, this isn’t a good sign. 

I slowed it down and trundled through. The return leg along a track was steady, the rain had stopped, my jacket was strung around my waist and I was running happy. Thoughts of the run to Prestonpans were now in my mind. Had I gone too fast? I’ll need to slow it down I thought, I need to fuel and get going straight away. 

I managed a kick on the finishing straight (sorry the guy I overtook) I finished in 40th place in 1:05. Maybe a little quicker than I should have done but the next 30km would be bad enough. 

I’ll blog about that run later, as the routes I took were great – such as the River Tyne from East Linton to Haddington, then the Haddington to Longniddry railway path! I’ll leave you with a quick film of it for now…

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2 responses to “To race or not to race?

  1. Pingback: The run after the race… | Run Spud Run!·

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