I didn’t know what to expect this time. I’ve run bits of this challenge as reccie runs and I’ve gotten lost and injured myself so many times during those reccie runs that when I first managed to run this event I was cheerfully surprised that I have a knack for remembering a route. In detail!! Last year I had the instructions, etrex30 and map just in case I didn’t remember a bit of the route properly but I didn’t need any of it. I just knew where I was going! What made that more surprising was that I was extremely sleep deprived from running a midnight marathon through London Friday night and didn’t have a good nights sleep Saturday night.
This year I had tired legs at the start but not from running a marathon, this was from a daily, speedy (for me!!) 5k at lunch Monday to Friday for the last two weeks. I felt good but my shins were feeling a bit tender and my feet already felt like they had run. Not the best kind of training to do before a tough 27 mile challenging run!!
The initial start was rough. The usual bag of bones feeling with everything just not working together. This didn’t take long to disappear thankfully and I felt great by the time we were out of the housing estate heading towards the Dunstable Downs. The first few miles to the Dunstable Downs Centre and up to Whipsnade felt great. Usually it takes me a good mile or three to warm through but this time I was raring to go from half a mile in. I didn’t take off though, I was unsure and held back. Plus I wanted to run with some club friends. So there was a lot of what felt like an easy jog but was actually quite a fast jog compared to my old usual speed and a lot of walking to wait for friends. This carried on while everything felt super easy. I wasn’t used to this “easy” feeling and was grateful for the company to keep me at the pace I’m usually running at. This easy feeling carried on until we got to the golf course and bit by bit the easy feeling started to dissipate and my feet started to ache like crazy along with the very tops of my thighs. An odd place for aches to appear!! Hmmmm. The last 10 miles after that were tough, very tough. I felt like I was running the last five miles of North Downs Way all over again. Determination not to quit and knowing the course so well kept my spirits up and sticking with Max and Karen was a bonus. It took all four of us – not forgetting Holly the super hound! – 7 hours 3 minutes to complete the course. Slower than last year by a whole 8 minutes but thoroughly enjoyed because I knew the route well. I’m still amazed at how well I can follow a route I’ve run before.
Next years plan is to improve on my time. I was fully capable of being able to complete this course in a much faster time and being unfamiliar with my faster self I held back. The 5k daily run has definitely improved my running and I’ve noticed my running form has changed as well. I’m using my arms more, lifting my legs higher – both of which is powering me forward more efficiently.
It’s rest week now. No 5k run but lots of core work and 10 minute turbo training. Sounds a bit odd to use the term rest week but it’s a rest from running, not from keeping myself ticking over.
Roll on the Beauty and the Beast marathon next weekend. It’s another tough one but here’s hoping I’ll have as much fun as I did at Dunstable Downs Challenge. Thank you Dunstable Road Runners. The course was challenging, well marked and cheerfully marshalled.