22nd April 2018.
The Longhorn Trail Marathon
The Longhorn Trail Marathon
This was a last minute entry into a race again with the intention to make the long runs more interesting and enjoyable. The race is held at Thoresby Hall Estate, and my life, what a beautiful estate it is.
There is a 5k, 10k, half marathon, full marathon and 60km Ultra. It's a well attended race and the atmosphere is made through a village fate kind of event, with plenty of retailers with marques selling their wears, attire, food, beverages, massages and so forth. Families and runners enjoying the sunny day with the threat of summer around the corner.
In true Deano style I rocked up with only minutes to spare at registration, (you'd have thought i'd have learnt by now). Enough time nonetheless to get in line and make my way to the start. I've inched my way forward on the start lines recently when I've wanted to put a bit of an effort in. From the 'off' I was a little keen and within the first few miles I hoped i'd not gone off a little ambitious.
The marathon consists of 4 laps of a (just over) 6 mile route around the estate. The sun was out and it simply made the day a fabulous experience. I adore the heat, I fair well in the heat, I struggle in the cold. Underfoot it was a mixed terrain, concrete, forrest path, mud and metaled path. It's been a while since I've ventured on to the trail and I realise just how much I adore it. There was a total of about 1,200 ft of climb in this run, so a great hill session.
I sighted the two leaders after about 2miles in, and they looked strong, conversing with ease and in good spirits. I sneaked passed with a shadow of doubt that it was only two miles and not to be too impressed with me overtaking at that stage.
As the race progressed, I just felt good. I was expecting my ambitious start to have it's consequences about lap 3-4 so tried to keep the pace consistent, the best you can on an undulating trail marathon with the impending and inevitable slowing down considerable in the latter stages.
Fueling was entirely on real food for this race, as i'm trying to work out what's affecting my need to go to the toilet when i'm running a bit faster in these types of races. In fact I think trail/ultra running is the only sport in which you can easily talk about your bowl movements and gastric distress with complete strangers (other runners) either during or after a run. As I did at prize giving with third lady and her partner. haha. It seems that eating the sweet stuff, the jelly babies, flap jacks and jaffa cakes doesn't suit me from the off when i'm running with a bit more speed. Thankfully, the Mountain Fuel doesn't have the same effect and still gives me the fuel without causing distress on my stomach.
The sun shone for the duration and there is no doubt that it brightened my mood as well as the day. The heat from the ground of the woodland, the smell of summer through the air, even the farms had that luring summer ora as we ran through them.
The Ultra started at 8.30, so an hour before us, 10k at 11, half marathon 11.25 and 5km at 11.45. The effect upon my race was that it simply made it more distracting and interesting. It was great to run a trail with lots of other runners around (for a change). I'm sure you're aware of the lonely running at times on the trails when you're in an Ultra for example and you can be on your own for hours. OK so it wasn't an Ultra for me today, however it was great to be among the other runners, dodging, skipping and flying my away round them just kept me interested and distracted for the best part of the race.
Come mile 21 I started to feel a little tired and whilst I didn't slow too much, I was having to work harder and concentrate on keeping form, keeping speed and staying strong. It was about being consistent and pushing through the physical tiredness in order to perform to my capacity during this race. There was no expectation on winning or staying as leader of the marathon, it was more about running within myself and to my capacity. The results were unimportant, that i was doing my best, pushing myself, working hard, using my strategies, was the goal, the process, rather than the outcome.
One mile to go and the toilet stop couldn't wait. Darn it! So I jumped behind a fir tree and within a minute I was back on the trail and emptying what I had left in my legs on that last section of the run now that the discomfort of needing the loo had dissipated. (ahem).
The finish was a little unremarkable. The 10k'ers were finishing and I stealthily sneaked past them to cross the chip timer. I don't think there was a soul aware that the marathon runners had just started to come in. No one there, no marshals with medals, no claps or recognition, I just mingled with the 10kers and when I eyeballed a marque with what looked like a funnel for getting a goody bag, I headed to it obviously to claim my banana and packet of crisps. That why I adore trail runs like this. Unremarkable, do the run, finish the run, low key, and at some point grab someone and ask for a medal, before a quick table is set up for the trophies and you're awarded with no one else around other than the three who came in 1st, 2nd and 3rd. haha.
Yes it was great and unexpected to have finished first lady today, and more unexpected to have won the race out right. That's what made this race more special for me. It's the first race I've won outright. What a wonderful end to a super day.
Thanks to the support of Raidlight and Mountain Fuel, who's support affords me the opportunity to perform and race in the manner that I do. Thanks further to the advise I receive from N. Wilson in terms of training and racing who's knowledge and responsiveness has proved to be invaluable. A diamond hidden among in a world full of costume jewelry.