Early start for me today as despite Eastbourne not being very far to drive, I had to walk my own dog and fetch the Ferrari- sorry Brontë the pointer, and all her running gear before setting off.
It was a gorgeous morning, even in the dark while I was walking Bella Dogga, it was obvious we were going to be lucky with the weather.
I was heading to park on a road suggested to me by SunnyMummy when I realised I was seeing runners walking down the road beside me, so as the street had plenty of parking spaces free and it was indeed only just past 8:30am, I parked up, let the pup out of the boot, picked up all our clobber and followed them down the street.
Had to cross the road through the marathon runners waiting to start - they were all very good natured about it, many of them petting the dog as we went past. Found the Registration tent no problem, got my number, made sure to fill out the back, had a brief chat with a member of one of my Canicross running groups who was running dogless today, and headed off to bag drop. Bumped into SunnyMummy on the way - or more accurately heard my name being called and turned round to find her right behind me 😀 We had been messaging each other in here, but not arranged to meet up as we thought it would be a nightmare to try and find each other!
Could not find bag drop even though one of the marshalls had pointed me in the right direction. 🤦♀️ Finally found the bag drop - having walked the long way round to get there - dropped my bag (feeling very naughty to have the dog in a school building) and headed off for the loos. Was really glad of roseabi’s inside information as the queue for the portaloos near registration were REALLY long, and even more glad when a male runner said that the men’s loos had cubicles and no urinals and that several ladies had already nipped in there rather than queue in the ladies. \o/
This all looks like I’m kind of fixated by getting to the toilet, but there’s a reason for this. The first Canicross race I attended, myself and a running buddy missed the start as we were the last people out of the loos and had to run round a barrier and into through finish so we could turn straight around and run out the start. Which is harder than it sounds when you have 3 over excited dogs between you and everyone else is heading in the other direction!
Found the other canicrossers lurking at the back of the solo runners just as the starter announced there was 5 minutes to the start. Brontë was really good and greeted the dogs she knew very politely, and then waited patiently. It didn’t seem too long before we were on the 10 second countdown and then we were off-
The start at Beachy Head is very steep, and there are steps. If we’d been at the front we could have jogged up it - slowly I grant you, but we could have - as it was, we walked up the steps and then finally managed to break into a jog soon after that (managed to turn my ankle in a hole, but It was fine). Ran up the rest of the hill with a canicrosser who I didn’t know - we did introduce ourselves, but I totally forgot his name soon after he pulled ahead of me 🤦♀️ Got told to shorten my line by a runner who sounded like they were *nowhere* near me as I overtook people. I wouldn’t have minded so much but I was calling out that there was dog coming through and the people we *were* passing seemed to be fine about it - either thanking me for the heads up or putting their hands out for a (sneaky) dog stroke.
Once we were at the top the route was undulating in the main and views were fantastic. Spent a lot of time calling out, ‘dog on your right’ and thanking people as they made space for us (again gettingthanked for doing so). I had been worried that there might be stiles, but there weren’t. There were plenty of marshalls holding gates open though, so I gave them all a thank you as well.
Was genuinely surprised at the end of a short stretch of paved ground - the only bit on the course - I found we were at the halfway point. Having not found any puddles to drink out of, Brontë stopped for a big drink of water from the thoughtfully provided dog bowl, while I grabbed a small cupful.
Had a few chats with some of the other runners as we skirted the edge of the next field, and then we were out on the cliffs proper with The ‘classic’ view of Beachy Head itself before us.
Got to about 6k and my right calf started to twinge. Ran on to see if it would fix itself. It didn’t get worse, but it didn’t get better either. It was while I was worrying about my leg that Brontë did run across someone’s path and I had to apologise profusely. Luckily he was have me a walk break so no harm was done, he just grabbed her line and gave me a filthy look (which I deserved). Just shows what inattention can do when you’re running with a dog. Stopped briefly at 6.5k and tried to stretch it (OUCH!) Decided to keep running and only walk of it became unbearable. Soon after, a marshal announced that, ‘it’s all downhill from here!’
Short steps were the order of the day, and I will admit to feeling slightly embarrassed as Brontë and I were overtaken on the gentle downwards incline by so many other runners, but Brontë was very good about it and - after a couple of quizzical looks over her shoulder at me - adjusted her pace accordingly.
Really soon after - or so it seemed to me - another marshal was telling us, ‘only 5 minutes left’.
Managed to negotiate the steep steps down to the finish, even paused to let a couple of other runners go past us at the bottom. Then round the end of the fence and we were back on the road with the finish line ahead.
My lizard brain (hind brain?) took over. I’d had no intention of even attempting a ‘sprint’ finish - I didn’t want to cripple myself - but suddenly there I was, screaming ‘Go,Go, Go,Go Go!’ at Brontë all pain in my calf forgotten and going for it, full tilt.
Crossed the finish line. Forgot to get my medal. Had to ask the Timer Chip marshal to take my chip off as I was feeling a bit light headed (stupid slightly low blood pressure). Got hailed by roseabi who was queuing for her official time and had to tell me who she was - as again I’ve only spoken to her online 🙂. Grabbed an energy drink (I never normally drink them but it was pretty good - wish I’d taken notice of the brand!) and headed off to bag check using the short route.
Had to ask a partially clothed total stranger to pick my bag up for me, as I knew I was going to be in trouble if a bent down myself! Got the dog a drink and put her ‘after running‘ fleece coat on her. Had to sit on a handy table for a bit because I kept going light headed again.
Went over to sign up to get my calf massaged so I could drive home without crying (a tenner for 15 minutes sounded really good to me).
Felt REALLY light headed.
Told a couple of people how I felt and they suggested I sat down, to which I replied that I’d probably not be able to get up again, and promptly sat down.
Finally decided to listen to what my body was telling me and asked someone to grab me a First Aider.
Spent a fairly long time lying on the floor with my feet on a bench, and my head on some kind lady’s baggage, while Brontë was made a fuss of by the baggage drop marshals and other people, waiting for the St John’s Ambulance guys to turn up - dodgy radio reception was involved I think. I felt like a total fraud, but I’d rather have done that than actually blacked out and caused a fuss. As it was one lot of 2 SJA people were replaced by 2 more and then a few more turned upmjust for fun. Seriously, Inthink at one point there were 5 of them. I hope it was simply because there were no real emergencies elsewhere. They got me sitting on the bench, made sure I was okay otherwise, told me to take it slowly before heading off, which I duly did.
Finally managed to sign up for my calf massage, then wandered up to fetch my medal - Brontë got one too - while I was waiting.
Calf massage was wonderful, if a little painful, and while he was working we both noted that my tight spots were pretty symmetrical, which is something I suppose 😆
After all the drama, I decided I’d treat myself to a reminder of the day and buy an official hoodie. Alas the green ones were all sold out, so I had to settle for a rather lovely blue technical tee-shirt instead.
Brontë is now back with her owners. I have spent the last two or so hours sitting on my sofa icing my calf (and my slightly dodgy left Achilles’ tendon) with the tv on in the background while I composed this mammoth race report!
Weather was excellent. Really enjoyed the race. The course is great. The organisation seemed excellent. Runners are a lovely bunch of people. Marshals do a great job. First Aiders are awesome.