Two hilly runs and a hilly bike ride. Eek!
My First Ever Handicap Race
After running the frankly weird Crisis Square mile back at the beginning of June, I decided I would like to do a proper 5k race: properly measured, timed and with fewer runners, so we were up bright and early yesterday morning and on the tube to Cockfosters for the Trent Park Handicap. Not having run a handicap race before, I wasn’t sure what to expect, I knew it was something to do with everybody finishing at about the same time and, as it’s a series, you can try and beat your previous time the following month. We had taken Hector’s bike with us so we strolled along the long path through Trent Park whilst H whizzed along, stopping politely at the side to allow cyclists and runners through. When I found the Hockey Club I was asked by a friendly club member to fill in a form, handed over my £3 and was given the number 610, which I will have to keep for next time.
Before the race started a nice lady gave us newbies the lowdown, with a list of when we were all starting and a detailed description of the course (it is reversed each month and is marked out with arrows, no marshals). I was to start when the clock said 15 minutes. Even though it was very low-key and incredibly friendly, I still got a bit nervous. I had said I would probably finish in about 28/29 minutes, so had that in my mind, but just thought of this first race as a benchmark setter. So off I went. I was very quickly left behind by the group of men who were starting at the same time, and hadn’t appreciated that the people starting after me (mostly whippet-type men) would overtake me pretty soon after as well. Boo. This went on for a while and then I realised I was at the back, the last person!
The course is just lovely, running through the trees on tracks and paths and nice and quiet so you can really focus. I found it a real challenge: there were two long hills which I gasped up but I kept reminding myself it would be over soon, so I should just enjoy it. As I rounded the bend to see the final stretch I crossed the finish line in reverse while other runners crossed it the right way round. It’s a long straight road, so good for focus but tough when you can see exactly how far you have to go. When you get to the end, you run around a nice man who gives you some encouragement and then head for the finish line. It was here that I got a little burst of energy – and realised I was simply NOT going to be the last person crossing the line – so gave it a bit of a kick. I overtook three runners and leaped over the line in just under 28 minutes. Great!
Run Time: 27 minutes 26 seconds
Distance: 3.15 miles
Average Pace: 8.43
Best Pace: 7.29
I have decided I would like to try and do this race every month and attempt to improve my times a bit. This calls for some serious hill training if I am to overcome those tough bits.
Today we were out early again, on the bikes up to Hampstead Heath. Arrrghghghghgh, my thighs! We tackled some serious hills on the way, the sort of hills where you feel like you might topple over on the spot or that you are going backwards. Once Edward and Hector were settled in at the playground, I went for a run…up some hills. It was lovely, I do love the heath. You get a better class of dog there, and a better class of owner – Simon Callow walking his beautiful boxers. After yesterday’s run and the challenging ride up to the heath, my legs felt like lead so I didn’t go that far but I did go for it on the hills. Towards the end, as I headed back down to the playground near Gospel Oak, I got to the bottom of the hill and decided to run back up it again. Yes, really.
Run Time: 42 minutes 41 seconds
Distance: 4.30 miles
Average Pace: 9.56
Best Pace: 7.01
And a roughly 10 mile bike ride too.
We had planned to go for a swim in the ponds, but Hector is not allowed in, being under eight years old. I can see why they have to have this rule, but what an arbitrary age – many adults can’t swim, or would struggle in open water, and many young children would be just fine. Anyway, I said Edward should go in as he’s been wanting to for ages. He loved it 🙂