After a week long taper and curry the following evening race day was here again. The day was wet and full of rain that announced itself against the windows that morning and didn’t look any better when I peered reluctantly through the curtains.
Steve provided me a breakfast of crumpets, the only warmth I would have for the best part of the day, and drove me to Bath University. In the lower field Relish Running Races had set up their white tents just over the rise from the carpark. I’d intended to do the Marathon but in this weather I thought I’d do the Very Long Half Marathon instead as I wasn’t feeling entirely motivated.
The haunting memories of last year (scorching heat) aside I figured just one lap of the course for the Very Long Half Marathon should be reasonable in this weather. I’d done a ten mile run last week so I knew that I could cover the distance. All in aid of trying to add in a weekly long run to build up my endurance base. Just think of the positives, I tell myself, what great training!
Advertised as 14.5 miles the Long Hilly Half in true Relish style was actually a huge 16.5 miles. Of pure mud. And inclines and descents of trails hazardous hell. It sounds risky doesn’t it? Well, yes it does, and I thought about this whilst doing the course. Each run is a risk. You risk a fall, an injury, an epiphany. But that’s why we do it. We run to relish the experience. Because we know that running through rolling country in this weather isn’t exactly a smart idea but because it is exciting and exhilarating and it isn’t the same as another lap of that park back home. So whilst there is a risk it is worth it. It gives us the strength and courage to battle on through our race with gusto. It gives us adventure.
I thought of risk because I did see people fly forward stumbling over the tree roots in the University woods. I myself nearly fell in the canal not realising which bit was muddy puddle or waters edge at one close point out of tiredness. I witnessed one elderly runner on an incline nearly do a classic Tom and Jerry style banana peel slip down a hill incline like that to the left which two runners behind had to steady but still on they went enjoying every moment. Despite all that I don’t think health and safety has much of a place in races. It shouldn’t either. It’d ruin the fun. This is what trails are for.
This is a photo from the Relish Running website page for the Bath Running Festival which really shows who tough some of these inclines were. I finished the run in 3:56:03 (+1:39:53 for the extra distance). Last year I did the marathon in 8 hours ish hung over after a night out. I really don’t know how I survived the run at all last year considering how hard it was sober!
Survive I did though. This year I finished soaked through and practically limping by the end due to sore cramped leg muscles that continued to seize all day even when I got warm. I kept my legs up snoozing on the sofa for the rest of my Sunday. My foam roller sorted the legs out eventually and I didn’t need physio although my doctor said I’d injured my IT band my legs are fine now if not a bit tired still.
If this was an XBOX Achievement this would be 100G for sure. The medal was pretty fantastic. Relish medals are great and I really hope they continue these styles. Platters of chocolate bars, fresh fruit, Jaffa Cakes and the like awaited at the end. Totally worth it.