All done now!
Harvel5 is a lovely race out from Harvel village (from the village green) through Trosley Country Park and back again. There are about 800 competitors and is listed as ‘cross-country’ but as it is through a park it more off-road really. (It sells out every year so if you fancy it look out for places early in 2017.)
I ran it last year with the aim of getting under an hour and got a very happy-making-Claire time of 56:45. I loved the experience though as it was my first non-Race for Life race (i.e. a real one with chip timing and a proper medal) and so immediately signed up again.
The day was lovely, the parking was simple, the green was full of the buzz of runners waiting for the off, and I would have been a complete stress-ball if it wasn’t for the fact that we had two new runners in our midst and this was their first race!
Two friends from school have been running for a few months and have been doing amazingly well, but they wanted to race, so I talked them into Harvel. Laura had signed up for a Race for Life 10k at the beginning of July, so I thought this would be a good experience for her: a close-enough distance and a chance to know what running a race is like. Sarah had a bet with another friend to run 10k, but that was called off due to injury so this was an alternative (Sarah’s injury but she ignored the pain anyway!)
They both wanted to get under 70 minutes as their A (in the ABC goal list) and were understandably nervous waiting around for an hour beforehand. This meant I spent my usual pre-race worry time on talking them down, talking them through the course, and how not to crash and burn in the first 2 miles, as well as reminding them to drink (and when to stop) and that they should use the loos when they can, but know that the nervous-need-to-wee feeling on the start line will pass.
We missed most of the warm-up, but made our way in the right direction to line up. Adam wished us luck and went up towards the front. I tried to move the girls forward a bit but they stayed rooted to the ’60+mins’ area at the back, so I left them to it and moved forward a little myself.
Then we were off. I had an ache straight away in my calf in a new place, but then it was gone and I got on with it. The 800 thinned out and I didn’t have much problem with people blocking the way (mainly as they were all going past me) and so I managed to just run at a nice slow pace and tick off that horrid first mile (horrid like every first mile; nothing to do with the terrain which was road).
Around the mile mark, through a residential area, I heard a large crowd start screaming for someone. He was ahead of me, luckily, as they immediately started chucking water balloons at him as soon as he got near. Those around him also got soaked, but I managed to avoid it, before thinking it would have been quite nice to have received some of the cooling water on such a warm day… Ah well!
Trosley Park appears to be lovely – the bit we see anyway. It is just trees in every direction, but with an easy to navigate path winding through it (apart from the massive, muddy puddles thrown in for good measure). It’s an out and back along a parallel path, and the return trip gives you a little glimpse down into the surrounding fields, which look stunning for all of the 3 seconds you see them for. We really should return there for a walk.
I didn’t feel great through the course, but it was better than I expected – I ran it all (bar the top of the slippery hill and through one water station) and I even picked it up on the last mile which was downhill and back on the roads. Well, I felt I picked it up but only just got under a 10min/mile in the end! But I did, and I was surprised I could especially when I got to the last 150m and started sprinting (my version of it anyway!).
There was a guy just behind me who had picked up the pace, so I ran to keep him behind, spurred on by the shouts and screams from our lovely supporters (Jo, Neil & Nita) as well as Adam who had finished in 34mins. I rounded the corner (which is difficult as it is very broken up road) and ran full pelt down the finishing straight, but was cut up by the guy in purple (I didn’t call him a b****** as he passed, not at all) and finished in ~58:46 (58:00 chip time).
Medal received, water in hand, I joined up with the support crew and awaiting the two newbies. At 1:08 we saw them coming down the road – we started screaming, (and I mean screaming!) at them that they had a minute to reach their goal and they picked up the pace, running past others and down the straight to come in at 1:09:48. I was over the moon for them (no tears in eyes, not at all)! They had beaten their target and looked like they weren’t dying! Maybe they even enjoyed it…!
We greeted them in the finishing chute, wrapped them in hugs and took lots of photos of the proud pair.
The results are printed as they come through and after checking theirs I got to announce that they actually got 1:08:32 – way under 70mins!
We then stood around a while before realising we could sit around at the pub instead – we had already planned post-race food in Meopham just down the road (the Cricketers if you are interested – beautiful, beautiful food) so we headed there.
I was feeling pretty rubbish: headache, tired etc. but the company and food were delightful(ish) though I was glad to get home and have a pint of Solpadeine before slobbing in front of the TV.
Harvel5 is a race I would like to run every year, and fully intend to. It may even become a little tradition amongst the group: once a year run 5 miles and go to he pub. Not a bad thing at all 🙂
So this was the end: I had done it – all three races completed. Not fast, not stylishly but it was done.
I can’t say I feel proud, or happy; relieved maybe. And glad that all the training came through and I survived with no injuries. (I really was very lucky not to get injured during my 4 months training, I know that.)
I also now understand those that don’t want to lose their fitness and start training straight away (who I had previously thought were crazy!), but I have always been a reluctant runner, so I have no problem with dropping down the runs/miles. Though I do have some new goals/plans and I will get back on those after just a little rest…