PARAS’ 10 Colchester – 21 October 2012 – P-Company Challenge … 10 miles in military kit with 35lb bergen
Been, done it, got the tee-shirt (literally). Actually I’ve now ended up with THREE tee-shirts – bit of an overload. One, I bought for training, the second arrived courtesy of paracharity.org along with a collection box … and the third one has a big ‘FINISHER’ emblazoned on the front. Well, one can never have too many tee-shirts, I suppose.
Erm … you’ll notice there’s been a gap since my previous negative posting and this one. That’s because there was simply no point blogging limited training and slightly exaggerated tapering. What can I say only that I flipped the positivity switched, sucked it up and got on with it. Pre-race, I managed a couple of 10k runs – just in trainers – and an 8-mile and a 5k tabbing. Ten days before the race, though, my feet were just destroyed from those boots. They are comfortable, surprisingly, so no blisters or anything like that. It was just the Plantar Fasciitis in my left foot particularly – Ouch!! I seriously couldn’t walk on it. Early morning is one thing, but I knew I had to be careful when I found my foot was throbbing all through the day, whether it was weight-bearing or not. I decided to err on the side of caution. Fitness was not going to be a problem so my ‘tapering’ was on the extreme side, i.e. nothing at all! Thankfully, I wasn’t trying to break any records and I hadn’t managed to do any training on trails so I kept my expectations low. My original goal was simply to keep ahead of the Death Truck, which was sweeping at the 3-hour mark. By race day, my goal was to stick like glue to 15-minute-miles and come in at 2:30.
The comrades in arms: Nicki Edwards, Daryl Lee Chard, Mark Ahlin and Alistair Pizzey
The Incredible Supporters: Caitriona Hyatt, Hannah Tull
Early start for daughter Caitriona and myself. Left the house at 5.45 a.m. and arrived in Fairyland a.k.a. where Daryl lives (a whole other story lol) around 7.30 a.m. Finally found the army base, registered and hilariously, at the age of 50, picked up my PARAS’ 10 PASSPORT They don’t dish them out to ‘every’ 50-year-old, y’know haha
It was drizzly and grey but not cold. I got some very odd looks when I tried to weigh my bergan – could’ve been my age – or the fact that I almost fell over trying to lift it onto the hook. Turned out it was one pound overweight, but it was easier to leave it at that than start trying to remove stuff for the sake of 1 lb. The bemused expressions of the paras, though, changed to absolute horror when they pointed out that the water I’d be carrying would add on yet another 2 lbs or so. ‘Water?’ I said. ‘What water?’ They were shocked to the core that I wasn’t intending on carrying multiple bottles of water. I guess they thought I was actually going to be sprinting this race lol I didn’t dare tell them that it never occurs to me to carry water for anything less than a half-marathon. Besides, there was water available on the course, so what was the problem? Who knows?
Over an hour to wait, no cover and at the hot drinks stall my veganism soaked quickly into the mud underneath my feet and hot chocolate was the order of the day. Nicki, Mark and Hannah joined us and we amused ourselves mostly watching Mark’s heart rate monitor climb to ludicrously high levels as start time approached.
It was in the starting pen at warm-up time that Nicki and I realised we were somewhat in the minority here. The warm-up made me laugh a lot. No Jane Fonda step-touches, side bends or gentle toe-tapping here – all the sound of Cher. Nope! The gentle warm-up was good old army style knees-up, sprinting on the spot, pumping arms with a random partner, push-ups and plyo-star jumps. Fantastic.
The starting pistol turned out to be a cannon so no excuses for missing it! Nicki and I headed out at a good pace and I threw away thoughts of keeping to a certain pace and decided to ignore my watch completely and just do what I could. I’m always fearful of going out too fast (although in terms of ‘my’ pacing, this is all terribly relative haha). The previous night, however, I’d been reading a fabulous ultra runner’s views on this. His belief was that the majority of ultra runners slowed down in the latter part of any race (elites excepted) so in terms of racing you could either start fast and inevitably slow down or start slow and, yes, inevitably slow down anyway! It made me laugh a lot. It’s so true and 10 miles is by no means a ‘long’ distance so I decided to go with that philosophy and just ‘go’. Of course, it helped a lot having Bootcamp Machine Nicki running with me. I surprised myself and loved myself and felt extremely proud of myself that by the 5-mile marker we hadn’t walked and our pace – whatever that happened to be – hadn’t dropped. It was a great feeling – particularly for someone like me who will finish no matter what but never quite manages to leave everything on the trail. Yup – that still needs doing!!
The reaction of the paras at the weigh-in as regards my hydration worried me slightly and I started doubting myself. Stupidly, I subsequently grabbed the Lucozade they were handing out at the first of the two stations. Mistake. I gulped some down out of guilt and my body immediately screamed at me for being such an idiot. Yuk! Sugar, sweet, sickly … and all I wanted was water to wash it down! I grabbed water at the next stop and shouldn’t have bothered. I took a few sips and then spent the next 3 miles worrying about the damn bottle haha My environmentally-friendly head refused to let me chuck the plastic bottle into the woodland. I debated throwing it politely at one of the paras marshalling the route but every time I passed I just thought it’d be really rude so ended up carrying it. I know, I know, no big deal, but these little things take over and I HATE CARRYING BOTTLES!!!
Actually, I think the constant whining about that water bottle was merely a way to distract myself from the fact that I’d lost all sensation in my right leg. Damned ITB kicked in quite quick but I was determined to ignore it and it was desperately trying to make sure I didn’t, resulting in my leg literally giving way underneath me every now and again. That is all I’m going to say on the matter because for every darn race I seem to have some excuse why I couldn’t go further, go faster, blah blah blah. Bit fed up with myself for doing that. Yes, I’m injured. No, I can’t finish this race the way I want to and yes, I’m going to take time off and rebuild my knees after this until I’m back to running injury and pain-free again, ready for 2013. Done it before and I’ll do it again. Enough said. So yes the second half of the course had its ‘down’ moments. The ‘ups’ were the mud, which was hilarious, tough, mad, slippery and also made for some guilt-free walking (lol) – and of course the water, which I personally loved.
Three miles to go and Nicki was still keeping up that unbroken jogging stride. Head was down and nothing short of a 20 ft wall was going to stop her. My ITB was really inhibiting my running so I was down to Run 10 Stride 10 rhythm which I kept up relentlessly all the way to the end. If there was a downside to this day, then it was the finish. That last mile, I wanted to finish strong, instead of which as much as my head kept saying ‘Go’, my leg resolutely refused. I tried and tried and bloody tried and it just wouldn’t happen.
But what can I say? I crossed the line upright and at a run … and crossed it a whole 18 minutes ahead of target. That means … well, that’s a whole lot better than 15-minute miles. That’s a few 14s and a number of 13s – and I never thought that was going to happen so WOO HOOOOOOOOOO!!
Nicki steamed home a good 4 minutes ahead of me. Incredible effort. Mark had also been tabbing and stormed through in some ridiculous time – 1:33, I believe! Totally smashed the paras’ entrance cut-off of 1:50. I forgot to ask what his heart rate was at the end. I think his HRM had probably burnt out at that point!
Daryl – that crazy kid is an amazing runner and definitely one to watch out for!! He wasn’t tabbing but smashed through the finish in 1:07. Extraordinary and inspirational. Daryl, you focus that training and you’re going to be gracing many podiums (should that be podia?? Haha) before long.
Hannah and Caitriona – huge thanks for the support, the photos, the entertainment. Between the pair of you, lunch was hilarious. Shame it couldn’t have lasted longer but the gnomes needed to be deposited back to Fairyland before it all disappeared in a puff of smoke …
FINAL RESULTS: Gun time: 2:12:09 Chip time: 2:11:31
COMPETITORS: 541 FEMALE COMPETITORS: 35
OVERALL POSITION: 449 (Oops)
WOMEN’S CATEGORY: 17TH OF 35
VETERAN WOMEN’S: 4TH OF 6
But Hey! What’s the use of age grading if you’re not going to use it, eh??? LOL
AGE GRADING: 42.29
AGE GRADING POSITION: 7TH OF 35
AGE GRADING VET POSITION: 3RD OF 6
I knew I was going to enjoy being 50 PAHAHAHAHAHA