Ranscombe Spring Challenge (2017)

This Saturday found me running the Ranscombe Spring Challenge for the second time. I ran it last year as it was near my birthday (as it is this year too), I was deep in my marathon training and the medal looked good, so I thought ‘why not?’ and I did.

It was my first Saxons, Vikings & Normans Challenge event at the time and I remember it was difficult. But something obviously made me go back as I completed the Winter one in January and then this Spring one (the medals for these really are the motivation here…)

20170408_080045.jpgAdam wasn’t running this time, but came along for the ride (literally) and then was going to run his own long run along the North Downs Way (just a bridge away from the race location) as part of his come back from injury.

It was a misty start, similar to January, but all signs pointed to that burning off and the sun warming our backs shortly, and that was how I had dressed.

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Many Shades of Grey and Blue Marl

Once again, I was in the queue for the toilet as the race started, but I was in no rush. The laps this time were 3.74 miles each, so 3 would get me to ~11 miles (not a half marathon) and 4 would take me to 15 miles (way over a half marathon). But with my (half a-) plan to complete a half marathon each month, I was going to have to target the four laps, which were not going to be run in any fast time.

The first lap was hard, as the beginning of any run is for me, but it was good to see the course again (same as the Winter challenge with the Mausoleum loop lopped off). There were some bluebells out, and the yellow of the rapeseed was poking through the ground and the terrain was good, so it was all quite pleasant.

I stripped off a layer on the way out on the second lap, regretting it at the first corner as my arms felt the chill (flashback to heading out on my second lap last time after sipping some water, but not taking anything with me!), but I told myself I would warm up and I did.

Coming in for the end of lap two I got my card punched (that is how they count the laps) and noticed the girl with the hole-punch had a large sign pinned to her with my car registration number on it… Apparently I had left my lights on! So I had to take a good 4-5 minutes to walk to the car park to turn them off – luckily time wasn’t something I was going for!

A little while ago we sorted out a ‘running phone’ for Adam to take on his long runs (unused handset found in my Dad’s drawer and a PAYG SIM topped up with £10), for emergencies/I-am-tired-and-broken-come-pick-me-up calls. So, at the end of my second lap I text Adam to let me know I was still going as he was only out for ~12 miles and so would be done soonish and would be coming back to cheer me on/see me complete.

The beginning of the third lap was getting a bit tough with the sun hotting up, and my lack of running recently (last run before this was parkrun a week before) wearing me down. But I told myself once on the hills, that it was only one more time around after the flat bits were over, and that didn’t seem too much to overcome.

Adam waved me in to the end of my third lap, and I convinced him to join me for a bit of the next one. He was resistant as he thought it looked like he was joining in the race, but I got him past that and told him he was just going to carry some drink and jelly babies for me, and wasn’t going to use any of the race facilities (toilets, aid station etc.).

20170408_105243.jpgHe walk/jogged down to the first field with me before peeling off to run another 1.6 miles on top of the 13.5 he had already run that morning. Yes, he ran more than I was going to do…

I had had it in mind at one point to possibly push my way to a marathon distance. If I could get the 15 miles done in 3:30, then I would still have 4.5 hrs to walk another 11 miles – very doable. But I was due to go out that evening with some friends and I knew how I usually feel after a long run (not good) so didn’t want to risk feeling worse (yeah… that was the only reason…)

The last lap was quite tough – I started to run a few times, but my body wasn’t a fan of that, so I did walk a lot of it. I tried to pick it up on the downhills, half-hoping that I could get under 3:30, but with a mile and a half to go in 14 minutes, that went out the window.

The last little bit is through some woods, and then out on to the road and back to base camp. I knew Adam would be waiting for me, so I made sure I ran that bit (looked better than I was feeling!) and on to the bell which you ring to show that you are done.

My official time was 3:38:02 for 15 miles, including the 2 mins in the loo before the start, and the 4-5 mins detouring off to the car mid-way.

As always, the medal and goody-bag are amazing at all SVN events, and this medal brings me up to half of the Ranscombe ‘season’ challenges:

I did feel quite broken for the rest of the day, but after some food, a nap and lots of ‘fizzy-feel-good’ (soluble paracetamol) I felt like I could face going out, and am very glad I did – it had been too long and apparently my friends are good and fun people – who knew! 😛

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On Sunday I felt even more broken; mainly in the legs, but also from a slight hungover-feeling which was totally unfair as I only had two glasses of rose! I haven’t drunk that much in a long while though…

Never mind! Sunday ended up being the best day I have had in a long time: Adam and I went out early for a weekly shop, had bacon sandwiches, strolled down to the river where we sat and enjoyed an ice-cream, put out some washing, brought in some washing, faffed about in the garden a bit, watched a film, had pizza… nothing amazing in any way, but I felt so happy, so at peace with the world, and so in love with Adam (sorry!), and it just felt perfect.

We have a couple of days off this week (on top of Good Friday) for my birthday, so am now really looking forward to those whatever we get up to.

Maybe it is the sun, maybe it is completing the run, maybe it was time with friends, maybe it is that I have only 5 weeks left at work before my four months off; whatever it is it long may it stay!

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