Gloucester 50k

Doctor Foster Went to Gloucester
In a shower of rain
He stepped into a puddle
Right up to his middle
And never went there again. 

Thankfully my experience of Gloucester was not nearly as distressing as Doctor Foster found his, although it has to be said, it was freezing cold and windy. 

The Gloucester 50k race was scheduled to take place on the 21st February 2018, three weeks after the marathon and plenty of time to repair, recover, and rest mentally and physically. There would have been just enough time to train and taper again with the intention to use the race as a quality training run. Unfortunately the race organisers had to bring the race forward a week to the 14th January 2018. You can imagine my horror as there was no way I would not be recovered enough for a quality run and the immediate taper was all a bit rushed. So I resigned myself to forgetting any goals and targets and just take it as it comes. 

I arrived on the morning of the race in plenty of time, with a pal Andy Wood a fellow runner who agreed to come along for kicks and company. 

The route starts in Kingways Woodvale Quedgeley and goes through the villages of Haresfield and Colethrop. The course is out and back to a single loop of 5.5 miles which you complete four times. I managed to make my way to the wrong start line and realised I was ready to start the marathon distance, panic. The 50 k starts about half a mile, from where I was and again I was probably now not going to make the start. Luckily a random driver stopped and shouted, offering a lift and I jumped on board, but not before, collecting another female (unbeknownst to me) Sophie Carter (last years winner in 3:43:45) who had made the same mistake and was running to the marathon start line. 

With seconds to spare the race was started, then it was stopped, and, we were called back , before it was restarted. All was a bit confusing and I don;t know what the issue was, however, we eventually, were off. My intention originally would have been a 6.50 pace, but there was no way that this would be sustained throughout the race two weeks of my marathon. Within minutes from the start, Samantha Amend came flying past and she gradually pulled away over the course of the race. I had no inclination to stay with her as I knew it would have been race suicide on tired legs. 

It's an undulating course, couple that with the bitter cold and chilling wind and conditions were far from perfect for a fast time. My hands were frozen and fingers numb, this distracted me somewhat and ran with them cupped over my mouth most of the race, trying to warm them up.

I didn't see any other females throughout the race other than the marathon and half marathon runners using the same route. I can't deny that there is a 'nice' feeling overtaking other runners, even if they are in a different race. There were a couple of men in the marathon that were running the same pace so we played a bit of cat and mouse in the latter stages, one of them going for a sub 3 marathon (which he achieved). I can't deny however, that I started to feel the tiredness in my legs after about 10 miles. By mile 20 they were shot. It took all my strength to maintain any kind of pace and my splits clearly show the deterioration in the speed from that point on wards, I couldn't pull it back around.   

Making matters more unbearable, was that I developed the trots, not major but enough that I had to make two loo stops in total. Really not what you need on a short race like this which was made so much more distressing because I could not pull my shorts back up after. My hands were that cold they were useless, fingers were not moving and so I started to panic and contemplate running with shorts around mid thigh until I could see someone and ask them pull them up for me. Seriously this was the only option and the clock was ticking by the minutes. By a miracle, the useless lumps of ice on the ends of my arms managed to pull them up and off I went. The second time I had to go was no different, a ridiculous state to get in.

Andy had the full commentary as I passed him on the side of the road at the lap turnaround point. Having a familiar face and support from people you know is gold and knowing that I could winge at him every time I passed was a relief. 

I kept the energy stores up with Mountain fuel and gels throughout, I'm still not at the stage where I want to risk bonking by not fueling on runs past a half marathon. I'm still learning my individual energy needs and my strategy worked great during the race. I had braved Trail Raider shorts as they have secure side pockets where I easily stored the gels and had quick and easy access, until the hands stopped functioning and gels were moved to being stuffed down bra, but slid down and were bouncing around in my clothing for the last hour. 

To my surprise and in spite of the woes, I was on for a time of about 3: 45 and to have been closer to a 3:40 would have been more than pleasing on this occasion as 3:42 is the qualifying time England Athletics set for the distance. Given the closeness of it, this became my focus for the last few miles of the race. I worked hard to keep the pace and get to that line sub 3:42. My watch was not accurate though as i'd not pressed 'go' until about 3/4 mile into the race and therefore I had an inaccurate recording to assess confidently how close I was and was too damn delirious with cold to work it out. All I knew was that I needed to run and fast and I may just do it. The last mile seemed like 10, I couldn't get my pace up as there was simply no power left in my legs and as I approached the finish the clock was showing 3:42:05. I had missed it, by 5 seconds. 

'Number, what's your number', 'number' , "your number' I could hear faintly as my senses were all shot to pieces. 'He's talking to me I eventually registered. My number was flapping about the back of my clothing somewhere as the pins had fallen off and it was hanging on by one corner. My cold hands were having none of it and I couldn't grasp the flapping bib to see my number. It was all a bit surreal and in my disappointment of race time and inadequacy of the finer pincer movement in fingers I rudely barked 'I can't see, I don't know'. On the guilt scale, this was an 8. Poor marshal, sorry.

I eventually made my way over to get my official time. 3:40:21, 'no way, NO WAY', I'd done it, jeez, I don't know how, but I'd done it, the event used chip and not gun time or the other way around, i'm unsure. I almost cried. First lady Samantha who had gone flying off at the start, had a remarkable race and finished in 3:30:56 some 10 mins in front of myself who finished 2nd and Sophie Carter some 2 mins behind me in 3:42:16. 

Final results: