I got up early on Saturday morning and we drove for an hour down to Ashdown Forest near East Sussex. The race was taking place in Pippingford Park (http://www.pippingford.co.uk/) and is right next door to a Llama farm - of all places !
So, I got there and registered, and got my race number and race chip. I nearly made the same mistake that Biscuit Boy made a few years ago and forgot to put the race chip around my ankle - and then I remembered right at the last minute - Phew ! The weather was nice and mild, so I wore short shorts, a new running top. I would have preferred to use a race belt rather than pin the numbers to my running top- but that was one item that I did forget - but as it happens, it didn't matter...
I also decided to wear my off-road Solomon trainers as they have a greater grip and support around the ankle. Although I hadn't run this terrain myself before, Biscuit Boy has and more significantly I have seen the state he has been in after a run here..
It's true to say that you really never can say how popular a race is going to be until the day, and I have to say that this was a very small turn out. In fact, there were onlly 38 runners in total. The event also consisted of a dualthlon and triathlon so I guess many people had signed up for that instead of the 8K run.
I won't give you a blow-by-blow of the race, suffice to say if you hadn't done your hill training you were going to be stumped. There were LOTS of hills. I have been doing my hill-training, so I was ok (sort of). Although I did walk some of the hills, but not for very long before I started my slow jog again, which although slow is a lot quicker than walking. The terrain was very rugged too, with plenty of tree roots to trip over (which is usually one of my favourite pasttimes), but this time I was ok. :o)
Looking back, I made one mistake, I thought the race finish was further away than it actually was.. so at one point I was walking and conserving energy, when had I known the end was so near I would have been running a lot faster.. well, I would have been running not walking let's put it like that. I was trying desperately to find out how much further there was to go, and in fact I had asked the last 3 marshalls on the course how much further to the end, and all I got was either an 'I don't know' or 'Don't worry, you're nearly there...'. To be honest, and maybe this sounds harsh, I didn't need the encouragement - I just wanted to know how much further it was, and I can't believe the race marshalls didn't know.. surely they should know !!! So, I guess one of my lessons learned for this race (it seems every race has a darned lessons learned), is to check the course out properly, specifically familiarising myself with the end so I know when it's coming and can pace myself appropriately.
That said, it was nice to know that the end was so close and I managed a nice rapid run to the end. You can only imagine my TOTAL surprise when as I crossed the line I was handed a white envelope ... 'You got a third place prize'. Well you could have knocked me over there and then (quite easily actually, as I was exhausted!). Looking at the race results today, I saw that I was the 5th woman to finish (out of just 15 women), the 25th overall finisher (out of 38 runners) and 1st in my age group, so I don't know how the 3rd prize comes into all that, and I don't really care. My time was 47mins36secs. I had thought I would do around 50 minutes, Biscuit Boy knew it was a tough course and thought it would take closer to 55mins. So I was happy to beat myself ( if you know what I mean...)
It seems the compression tights worked their magic yet again. I raced in them for the first time during this race and took them after the run, and I have absolutely no pain in my calves at all. My thighs are another matter, but that is the result of coming down very steep hills at speed. For the same reason, my left hip also feels quite jarred. So I gave myself yesterday and today off the running and will get back into it tomorrow.
Nutrition wise for breakfast I had pancakes and nutella (all that sugary energy - oh yeah !) and I drank a bottle of Lucozade Sport Energy drink on the journey down) and a few sips of cold water just before the start (to get rid of that stressy dry-mouth feeling).
All in all, a fantastic start to the cross country racing season, and I can't wait for the next race !! Yippee !
FOOTNOTE: Biscuit Boy kindly made a video of the footage of the race. Here it is for your viewing pleasure (o: