I’m currently writing this in the car on the way home from this race. Achey calves, dry throat and mixed feelings to say the least. To contextualise the race a bit for you, it was my last chance to qualify for English Schools and in the qualifying race for it (Sussex Schools – read about it here) I was still stuck with the flu. My running has been pretty sluggish because of that and a recently-discovered iron deficiency, so hopes were low. However, that doesn’t mean to say I wanted it any less. In fact, because of all this being against me, I wanted it all the more.
Nerves were pretty high the night before, but I managed a good night’s sleep (for once). I had my usual bowl of porridge for breakfast and sorted out all my race gear before we set off at 11am. Although my race was at 2:20pm, it was all the way in Bracknell, near Reading, and there was a major road closure en route so we wanted to leave enough time in case of delays. Well, I’ll be the first to say that we definitely didn’t leave enough time, and combine that with a bad route decision it took a total of 3 hours & 15 minutes to get there.
Yeah, I know. Stress levels – as you might have guessed – were through the roof, I reaaaally needed the toilet (had to stop at a pub in the middle of nowhere), and I knew that if I did make it, I would have no time for any sort of warm up. It really was touch and go, but we arrived at 2:15pm and I did a “warm-up” sprint to the start line. On the way, two girls who train at my club met me and got my vest and number for me which was a massive time-saver, and they really helped calm me down a bit. Because at this point, with less than 5 minutes to go, I was crying (#noshame) and felt completely hopeless.
touch and go
Thankfully, I made it to the start line and my fellow Sussex runners managed to get me in race mode (kind of). I’m not exaggerating when I say that I had no warm up, and the gun really caught me by surprise. The start, as I’d expected, was fast, and I mean really fast. The course was only 4km, but what it lacked in distance and gradient was definitely made up for in speed. At the half-way point, I was really struggling, and to be honest with you I just wanted to drop out. But after driving all that way I knew it wasn’t an option, so I just tried to hang in there.
Although I did lose a few places, I’m overall pleased with how it went considering I had the worst possible pre-race scenario. I know I could’ve done so much better, but sometimes you just have to accept that these things are out of your control. I probably didn’t qualify for English Schools, but I gave it my best shot. I’m trying to take a positive out of this experience, and I definitely noticed that while running I didn’t get the sudden energy slump that I’ve been having over the past 3 weeks. Hopefully, I’m finally seeing the “light at the end of the tunnel” of this prolonged-post-flu-recovery, so for me that’s a huge plus.
a learning curve
Lessons learned today (which is now yesterday):
- Leave PLENTY of time to get to your race
- Listen to ROAD CLOSURE advice
- If there’s a team coach going to the event, TAKE IT
You live and learn, I guess. Maybe this race just wasn’t meant to be. Who knows, but now I want to focus on the Half Marathon which is in exactly 3 weeks. Now that I’m starting to feel better, I’m hoping that I can smash my final few weeks of training and enjoy the day. Unfortunately, I also happen to have mock exams next week and the week after half-term which I feel incredibly under-prepared for, so keep your fingers crossed for me (pretty please).
P.S. I apologies for the lack of race photos. As you can probably imagine, we were so flustered that we didn’t really have the time to think about taking any.
Did you race this weekend? If so, I really hope you had a better experience than I did, and I’m sure you all smashed it.