Actually I haven’t run a race for over a year. Because I hate running races.
But I am trying to change. And will.
The usual ridiculous pre-race nerves clicked in as soon as I woke on Sunday morning. Will I be the oldest runner? Will I be last? Will I face-plant in the mud? Will I need a poo mid-race/feel sick/have a race tantrum/give up and go home…the usual totally pathetic race-gremlin doing its bit.
And yet, I love running! Should any of that happen, so what? It’s only a bloody running race.
The Mapledurham 10 miler is a popular off-road December race that I have known about for some years, just haven’t plucked up courage to give it a go. But I did this year. It’s set in the grounds of the Mapledurham Estate in Oxfordshire. The drive there took me through places I used to cycle around as a child – I hadn’t looked at the route beforehand relying on Tom-Tom to do its bit. So I was a tad surprised to find myself passing through familiar childhood territory en-route.
Parking was easy, the layout of race-event tents and loos good – the usual long queues for the loos though…It was cold and drizzly and grey. Perfect weather for an trail run. Not.
Once we were off though, the drizzle abated, the beautiful countryside and farmyard smells greeted us along with a stampede of cows in the field beside us who obviously thought they’d join in. 3 miles in and I’m thinking, this is great, love off-road running, legs feel okay, head has shut up its tedious negative nonsense and all is well with the world.
Then there were hills and more hills and mud that we needed to walk tentatively through having been churned up by all the speedy lot and the 10k’ers who had gone before us. At one point I managed to eject myself into a thorny bush to avoid a face-plant in the mud. Probably a silly decision as the said thorny bush drew blood – it would have been a gentler landing in the mud!
My legs felt like jelly, my blood sugar felt low – I really must sort out my race nutrition…Anyway, I chucked a Clif-Blok in the gob and downed some water containing my RAW Sport electoryte blend which I’m experimenting with and hoped for the best – that’s all my race nutrition consists off at the moment. Surely that has to be enough for a 10 miler? So up hills, down muddy tracks, across mucky fields, through damp woodland and a few farm tracks with happy volunteers and big yellow arrows guiding us along the way. And by mile 8 I was feeling better – note to self, eat Clif-Blok earlier in race and down more RAW Sport water. I know all this really, so why don’t I do it? I dunno.
Anyway, managed the 10 miles in 1.49, so not too shabby as there was a fair amount of walking in order to stay upright. That brought me in as 4th woman in my age group which sounds good, until you know that there were only 10 women in my age group running! However, that result made me momentarily race-happy. Fab bling and I just might be back again next year. Highly recommended race if you like off-road running and mud.
And in 2018 I’m going to run 18 races for charity… with, or hopefully without, my gremlin. More news soon.