Good evening one and all!
First off, thanks to everyone who replied to my last couple of postings, relating to last week's Yorkshire Marathon. I realise I've still got some replies to attend to, but please bear with me and I'll get there eventually. It's been all go this last week and this weekend's been a bit packed, as you'll soon see!
The weekend's exercise activities started last night, Saturday, with the Sheffield Night Strider, for our local St Luke's Hospice. It's, as you may have guessed, a night walk. There are two distances available, the 10K and the HM distance. Originally I'd signed-up with a friend to do the HM distance, but she, sadly, picked up an injury at the marathon last weekend and only felt up to doing the 10K, which was fine with me. I totally understood as these things do happen and in any case, it would probably work out well for me for today too, but more later about today.
Meeting my friend Tracy at 1930 hours, the evening proceeded with a visit to a nearby chip shop, where I indulged in fishcake and chips. Very nice they were too. Then off to a nearby pub for a Tasty Sparkling Water. (TSW) In the pub there were plenty of other walkers in there, dressed in the Night Strider t-shirt which came with the event pack. Nice and bright and yellow. Some of them (walkers, not the t-shirts) were indulging in Pre Race Drinkies, (PRD) and again, more of that shortly!
The start time of 2130 rolled around and just before it was time for the warm-up, which I have to say was far more involved than warm-ups I've seen for most running events, including the marathon last weekend! It was interesting though and it wasn't long before 2130 (well, 2124!) came round and we were off.
It felt really, really strange walking over the start line and every impulse in my body just wanted to break into a run, but that is naughty and certainly not permitted! The roads weren't closed either so we were dictated by traffic, although it certainly can't miss us as to a man -and lady- we were all dressed in bright yellow and illuminated, some with Flashy Flashy Armbands (FFA; I had two pairs of the things on!) and other groovy illumination. A good part of the early bit of the course was uphill, more so than most were expecting, I think, myself included. Not long after the start, a lady came running up behind us, in a fluster, trying to catch her companions up. Her words were something along the lines of "I shouldn't have had them tequilas!". I'll say! A bit further on up the hill we saw her sat out on the kerb, with others helping her up. I'm no expert, far from it, but I can't really see tequila and a night walk mixing too well!
On we go at a reasonable pace but my Garmin isn't happy with this at all; don't know if it was the atmospherics or the close proximity to buildings but it keeps pausing and starting again, so much so that a good five minutes are lost on time. When we get back to the finish, Tracy's Polar M400 running watch tallies up with the clock on the finish line. Mine is five minutes out! Tracy's leg is playing up badly and we make the decision to stick to just the 10K, at the turning point where the 10K and HM routes part.
The rest of the walk is pretty uneventful, other than the interactions with drunken folk on nights out, of which there were a few, and some heckles, but nothing too bad. At least we're not causing a nuisance of ourselves and vomiting in the street, Well, perhaps Tequila Woman is.
The finish line was absolutely surreal. Due to the time of night, coming up to 2330, there aren't any crowds at the finish line really, just marshals, who were doing a grand job and as we were coming in sporadically, it felt like all the attention was on us, because, well, it was! Felt like megastars or summat! Walk complete, time to get the Shiny Shiny Medal (SSM) and also our mugs, which was a bit of a novelty and something I wasn't expecting! Pic of said medal, and mug, above. Quite happy with the mug, it's a bit different, as was the walk. I quite enjoyed it as a bit of a change; it was curious and almost whimsical, seeing the city at night. I do feel that there should be Night Running Races (NRR) on the roads, but of course, there's the noise issue. And also the fact that perhaps everyone else doesn't want to be out running a 10K or HM at gone midnight, but hey, I'd welcome it!
Also, in the goodie bag there was a small bottle of hand sanitiser with a shirt clip. I did find it a bit of a surreal thing to have in there really! Which made me think; what unusual items have you fine lot had in a goodie bag?!
So, off home, in just before midnight and after some hot chocolate in my new mug, it was off to bed, for around 0130 or so. Well late for me.
After a night walk, involving getting into bed late, the week after a full marathon, a lie-in is in order on the Sunday, is it not? Errrrm, how about no? Can you do no? I'm going to have to as today, Sunday, is the day of the Sheffield TenTenTen, a rather fantastic 10K trail race set in Endcliffe Park, and surrounding woodland, here in Sheffield. sheffield10k.com/ A great race; I did it last year and thoroughly enjoyed it. Had I done the HM walk last night, the TenTenTen would probably have been out as it's really something you need concentration for as a good deal of it is on uneven and dangerous terrain, if you're not paying attention. One bit of a lapse in concentration could easily land you in an Embarrassing Undignified Tumble (EUT) as later on we'll see. Up at 0745 then this morning, some porridge for breakfast and off I head to the park.
This race isn't about time for me; it can't possibly be as it would be seriously unwise to try and race it, after everything that occurred last Sunday. And last night. So, no goal time in mind, I'm just going to head out and aim to enjoy the race without worrying about my pace and about time. Just run to enjoy and it's easy at times to forget that's why we run, to enjoy it, and end up fixated on PBs, what pace we're running and our performance. I took my Garmin just to keep an eye on things and slow things down if necessary but the idea of this is not to race it. I arrive at the start line for about 0925 and pick my number up, pick up my event t-shirt, stuff it in my rucksack for later, and drop that off in the bag store, and generally mooch about warming up until just before the race, where I settle myself between the 60-70 minute pen and the 70+ minute pen. All too soon the race is underway and I settle quickly into a Nice Relaxed Run. (NRR)
A couple of zigzags around the park and we're out onto the road and heading toward the woods, on this two-lap course. Quite near to the beginning is the Hill Of Doom (HOD) which isn't just a short but rather inclinous hill, it's also grass, so fairly slippy, so extra special care has to be taken in getting up the damn thing. It's quite tricky although thankfully it isn't raining at this point so isn't currently a mudbath. Slowing my pace down a bit and keeping well to the left where the main Body Of Grip (BOG) seems to be, I'm up it.......... and into the bottleneck queue that leads into the woodland trail. I really don't mind in the slightest and am happy waiting. That's another reason why I'm taking it easy; unless you're right at the front, you're going to get caught in this congestion on lap one, but I really don't mind and ease my way through and go with the flow. Lots of stone, rocks and tree roots to be careful of here, and it's oh so very wise to keep a good distance from the runner in front, so you can see what's coming!
Not being a trail runner really, and being well and truly a city lover, I'm thoroughly enjoying the change of scenery. I'm enjoying this race as much as I did the first time I did it, last year. It really is a blast. Dropping downhill now and vaulting over the first of two felled branches, we make our way through another narrow opening, after crossing a (traffic-free) road and then after that the path widens a good deal and the opportunity for speed is there. I could go for it but I don't; I'm being good and really restrained, to my surprise. Mind you, I have to be; after last week's hamstring issues, I daren't go for it. This isn't the time or the place, for me. My speed does in crease a bit but I'm certainly not racing it.
Back toward the start area now and into lap two. Most of the way through this I've been grinning away like an idiot; I'm so enjoying myself. No pace pressures, no stresses to finish in a certain time and indeed, quite the opposite - I find myself deliberately easing off my pace a bit just to take more of it all in! Back around the park and I don't take water at the 5K water station as I still have half of my 750ml bottle of water. Back out onto the road again and up our Inclinous Friend again, going straight into the woods this time as the bottleneck has cleared.
We're into 4 miles now. At 4.03 miles there's an almighty clatter followed by a yelp, right behind me. I turn to see a girl has gone flying over a tree root (I think it was; could have been a rock) and has landed in a bundle on the banking. Myself and the lass behind go to her assistance and help her up. No damage done I don't think, it's just, I suspect, embarrassing for her (not in my opinion as these things happen and if it were me I'd feel embarrassed even though there's absolutely no need to be!) with a few light grazes. After helping her up. she says she's sure she's fine, and with further confirmation that she thinks she is, off I go again. I don't mind the interruption and even if I was chasing a PB I'd still have stopped to help.
That little drama tended to, off I go again. The next mile passes without incident and at 5 miles in, or there abouts, maybe give or take a bit more, I see the photographer lining a shot up at me. See main pic above; I'd go as far as to say that's one of my favourite race shots of me ever. I love it. I give a big wave and carry on. At 5.25 miles or so I start to feel gutted that this will end soon. I've enjoyed every step and need to do this more often, run for the experience and not for the time. Enjoyment really is so important in running and in races too.
The music from the finish line is booming away now and usually it'd make me increase my speed and go for it, but I ease off the throttle a bit more, I'm enjoying this way too much! With the finish line in sight a bit later, maybe 400m to go, a lady, very breathless, draws level with me and announces "I've been trying to catch you up for ages!", which was a surprise! She'd given her all the whole way round and had nothing left to give, in her own words, so for the remaining distance I chat to her and be as encouraging as I can be, hopefully motivational, to help her, and me, over the line, which we cross soon enough. Big congratulations to one another and it's time to get the Shiny Shiny Medal. (SSM)
And what a medal it is; again, see above. As you can see, it's double-sided and even doubles up as a bottle opener. It's some medal, top quality! This race is one I'd recommend to anyone and one I'll keep coming back to. It's fun, a total riot of a laugh, but it's also a challenge too. If it's ever raining though I'm guessing that hill will take some getting up! The race is also really well organised and marshalled.
So what have I learnt with this experience then? Doing a night walk followed by a 10K trail race can be fun, but is also tiring! *yawns*
It's also important to disregard time, and pace, and just run for you; run to enjoy.
Oh and yeah, it's confirmed that I really, really like medals. I really like them.
And that concludes my Activity Filled Weekend. (AFW) What a strange week of events it's been! Thanks all for reading! And happy running. Always.