It was brilliant!
As I am writing my blog a bit later than many who participated in TR24 and having already read many excellent posts, especially those from my wonderful team mates, it is more than tempting just to post links to theirs, which between them give a complete picture of our weekend, and leave it as that!
So here you are…
But.. seeing as it was such a wonderful experience I’d better add my bit…
- Tent Envy. After slogging up the motorway on Friday afternoon I arrived about 5pm to find Alma and Chris who had bagged us what camp space was left and it became glaringly obvious that our team was seriously lacking in the tent department.
- Atmosphere. We knew we were in for a great weekend while soaking up the atmosphere while watching the Olympic opening ceremony on the big screen with many other runners and their families.
- Caravan Club. Thanks guys. ‘I will survive’ on the karaoke at 11.30pm accross the road from loads of runners trying to get some sleep in too small tents is not my first choice of bedtime playlist.
- Team. What we might have lacked in the tent department we more than made up for as a team. Our line up had changed a lot since we first signed up and in the end, Lorraine, as a friend of a friend and Jon, who mentioned to Chris on twitter that it sounded like a great event and was recruited, really turned up to a field to join a group of strangers and run! But you wouldn’t have known it, sitting round our little camp drinking tea in good company we did wonder why we had to run at all!
- Parkrun. Louise being a super parkrun tourist can’t possibly ‘sleep’ within 10 miles of an un-run parkrun on a friday night without getting up the next morning and running it! So on Saturday morning Alma and I accompanied her to Conkers parkrun for a 5K warm up. It turned out to be a really nice scenic, friendly parkrun, one of the nicest (in my small experience) that I’ve run.
- 24 hour relay begins Jon was up first as the relay began at 12 on Saturday and we sent him off into the unknown!
- Shock. Next up was me. Not the slickest of hand-overs in the busy pen but we learnt for the rest of the runs! The first km was falsely reassuring, I flew along at normal 10K pace downhill on grass thinking all was well. Then the course rapidly double-backed up a vertical bank onto trails in the woods. It was soon very obvious that there is ‘fit’ and ‘fit’ and I am definitely on the soft and squishy side! I was feeling the heat and could really feel the sun beating down on the stretches over open fields. I was annoyed carrying my water bottle but grateful for it all the same. I soon realised I was going to have to walk many of the hills as a good marching pace was more efficient than trying to keep running and easier on my calves. I also realised that my relative inexperience at running trails made me less confident about placing my feet where the ground was uneven or there were tree roots in the woods and therefore slowed my pace. Afterwards I was disappointed with my performance, however in hindsight I am more than happy with my time of 63 mins given my need for a lot more hill and trail practice. It was probably one of the toughest runs I have ever done and think my disappointment was more down to me having not enjoyed it.
- Dusk. My next turn was to be a double lap of 12 miles. I was apprehensive. Alma had had an argument with a tree and cut her head so we shuffled the order to give her a little more recovery time and therefore my run was an hour earlier than planned at 8.30pm. It was to my advantage, I had a really good run which dispelled all my bad feelings. Mainly because I knew what to expect and set out at a more easy pace so my pace was more even. It was also dusk and so beautiful. Light over the open fields, yet dark in the woods to get me slowly accustomed to my head torch. The point where the course rose out of the wood onto the ridge overlooking the surrounding area as the sun was going down and the lights were coming on was just stunning.
- Night. My double lap carried on into the dark and to my third time round the course. I was aware that the general pace of all the other runners around me was now easier in the dark and got into the mindset that it’s ok to walk! Such a great experience running around a dark wood, seeing and smelling the fires from the Marshall’s camps along the course and having a chat with an ultra runner on his 10th lap while walking round the dark twisty paths in the wood. At some points the course doubled back on itself and looking back it was an amazing sight to see rows of twinkling head torches moving up a path in the dark.
- Friendly. It was an extremely friendly race. 99% of overtaking fast runners said thanks if I moved to the side or paused to let them pass. Most said there was no need to stop at tight bits to let them pass, although on hills I was grateful for a rest and everyone said ‘hello’ or ‘keep it up’ as they passed or asked if you were ok if stopped to walk.
- Results. We were in it to complete not compete, but are still pretty chuffed with ourselves for clocking up 22 laps or 220km in 24hrs 50mins.
- Next Year? Yes! And I would love to challenge myself to try and run the course in an hour and complete 4 laps.
- Mileage. We all ran 3 laps (apart from Jon who ran 4). Louise, Alma and I added the parkrun to clock up 35K or 21 miles in less than 24 hours (in my case in 14 hours as my runs finished at 11pm!)