Marathon Diaries – A3

I’ve been flirting with an ITB flare up for a week or two. This is my bodies go to injury, I know it well and it has meant being sensible-ish, well more sensible than I normally am; Listening intently, stretching, and not pushing my running all that hard. I am still trying desperately to get faster, and as Amsterdam sneaks ever closer I can’t help but want to work every run, every session at max level.

This week was a rest week, well more of a rest than any other week, with 26 miles clocked, no PBs, and just the one tempo run. I also was a bit naughty and didn’t cross train all week! I took the days off instead, went for dinner with family, met friends for beers, and spent some much needed nights in.

On Sunday I raced Henfield half marathon under strict orders to not push it too hard. It was a local(ish) race advertised as being off road, flat and at the bargain price of £11. To be honest this just sounded perfect, plus some of my run club buddies were taking part which is always an added bonus.

In the warm up brief we got told to watch out for:

  • Cows
  • Stiles
  • tree roots
  • cattle grids
  • Mud
  • Flint/gravel paths
  • Uneven ground
  • Overgrown river banks
  • cyclists/dog walkers/famrers

And I can put a tick in every single box!

The course was pretty challenging, more than I’d anticipated at least. The first half felt simpler we ran on flint and gravel paths, through fields, up some short climbs and along the river bank. It was pretty windy and overcast at the start, but I sat comfortably under marathon pace, and felt really content with the speed, my breathing and rhythm. The simple easy flow your body falls into naturally when you start a race is just my favourite feeling.

It was beautiful out on the trails, like seriously beautiful. I’m so amazed at the beauty that is on my door step, the British country side has so much to feast your eyes on! There were kayakers in the river, dog walkers and cyclist galore on the trails and it really was a delightful place to spend some time running around!

The stiles slow things down a bit and there must have been a good half dozen of them. I can’t say I quite mastered how to climb over them with any sort of speed, style or grace!

The second half was definitely tougher terrain. It felt like the course had a lot more uphill at this point, the climbs were always short and by no means was it a hilly course, but after running on mixed terrain for an hour the uphill was a noticeable struggle!

The worst part of the race had to come at the 10 mile mark when you run for a mile+ back along the other side of the river bank. The bank was overgrown and seriously uneven, this was an absolute killer on the legs! We struggled to keep at any sort of pace, partly due to the terrain and partly due to the single file nature of this stretch. By the time I was back on solid ground my legs felt like they had 0 life left in them. The final 2 miles were more uphill’s and I’m afraid to say painfully slow.

I crossed the line in 2:02:05 with another Clare from my run club. We’d run most of the race together, switching between one of us tailing the other, to running side by side and having a chat. She really helped me push through some of those challenges, especially the final stretch! 

I’m eternally grateful for every single person I have ever met through running; be it run club or on race day!

It was obviously not a PB, and was never meant to be. I was happy with the time, the run, the performance and my body. No pain, no twinges, no damage. Just one happy runner with another medal and a rather large slice of Victoria sponge!

Well done to this team of superstars who clocked some amazing times, fought through injury and basically bossed it, they inspire me no end!


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