Some may say I’m stubborn – some may say I’m determined. Whatever word is used to describe me, the fact remains, I did it!
Hill Series – you are complete!
Wednesday saw the last run in the series and that’s what kept me going. It was the last one. None of the series has been easy. I’ve had to walk in all of them, faced near death in many and required a change of underwear more times than I wish to admit to. So I was expecting another ‘kill me now’ 4 miles in this last hurrah.
It didn’t start off grand. I thought it was about a 20 minute journey but then I saw a Facebook post about a car share leaving an hour and a half before the race! A quick google told me there were two places called gateside – one 25 mins away and one over an hour. Oh hell.
A few panic stricken moments later I realised it was in fact the 25min away place I had originally thought it was but I had no hope of making the car share. The other half said he was coming with the kids and another road runner kindly offered to pick up my number for me so worst case scenario would be I would get dropped at the start line whilst he found somewhere to park. (Luckily though, we found a space).
The usual chatter at the start line and a few runners started talking about the route. ‘It’s undulating’ – great, my ‘favourite’ word……. ‘you get rest breaks’ – oh I fully intend to be taking rest breaks trust me. I only need to finish this race. This is the last one. Then they pointed up the hill. ‘We head up to that tree line, go through it and back down.’
What that tree line way over there?!? That’s going to be more than 4 miles! I must be looking at the wrong one. Nope. There is only one cluster of trees up there.
There was a handful of road runners there which is always great to see and I was able to ask someone about their trail shoes – an item I really should have purchased before now. I’ve been wearing New Balance road shoes which suit me but they don’t suit this type of running – as I’ve found out several times, much to my peril.
We were off and just 100metres in we were running past what I presume to be a local lad playing the bagpipes. Have to say I really did like that. Great touch. Took my mind off the fact this was a hill race (well, for a split second, as we very quickly started going up).
The first part on tarmac was a steady climb. One of those where you’re thinking it’s fine I can do this, but I would really like it to be the top right about now, oh come on how much further? Can’t stop now or I will look pathetic.
To my surprise my first mile came in about 8mins 40 – unusual for me on a hill race. It’s normally well over 10 minutes and my vocabulary has turned from someone who doesn’t like swearing to someone who could give the drunk vicar on Father Ted a run for his money. However I was still smiling. This was a positive.
Or did this mean death was actually just round the next corner in the shape of mud, rocks and vertical ascents?
Wasn’t that bad to be honest. I glanced at my watch and it said 1.76. And I wasn’t dying? I refused to be drawn in to a false security. This was a hill race after all, you will probably have to walk the next bit Ella. You’re not a hill runner. (And no, the Aviva Hill doesn’t count).
But I didn’t walk. I forced myself to the top of the track I was now on and begged my legs not to stop just yet. Imagine if I ran for the whole of the first half of this race! I would be very pleased with that. Rounding the corner it was tough but then, as advised, it evened out so I could get a rest.
Still no walking.
Through the heather, over rocks and mud, careful not to go over my ankle – but still running.
And then those magic, magic words.
‘Along to the fence then it’s down hill.’
Oh I love you Marshall!!
Staying steady but trying to catch the guy in front I stretched my legs out and started striding down. Gets a little tricky at parts but it’s not as bad as Ben Sheann. I genuinely feared for my life on that ‘run’ (I use that word very, very loosely). I’m soon back on the tarmac and retracing my steps from the start of the run. I like this. I like this a lot. This I can handle. Down, down, down we go.
Then we hit the bottom.
And it’s back up from here.
Well that was nasty. Still running though! I know I must be close to the finish – can’t stop now, must keep going, you might actually finish this race running all of it! Turn to the left and on to the cricket pitch. I hear my kids and spot the other half.
‘I’ve ran the whole way!!’ I say to him as I trundle past. I hear him laughing as I continue.
I don’t have a clue where the finish is. Can’t see it at all. So I just follow those in front of me deciding to stop when they stop. We go round the pitch and I only know I’m finished when a young lad offers me a bottle of water. So no sprint finish but….
No more hill races, no more death defying descents or heart attack climbs up to the sky. I am done! The nightmare of that first race has now been put to rest and justified now that I have completed the series. It was ‘almost’ worth it.
Will I do it again next year? Not a chance! Not now I know what a real hill race is. That’s a whole new level of crazy right there. I will stick to my sea level road races thank you very much. A challenge it most certainly was and I may have moaned and groaned my way through it but I did it.
Those hills did not defeat me!