My running club is a member of the MABAC Running League, which “arranges a series of races throughout the year, particularly aimed at the fun runner” and after which “runners have been known to find a local pub”.
This morning’s race was an 8 mile affair in Windsor Great Park, and as I’d had the forethought to mention it to my coach it had miraculously shown up in my magic training plan. With an instruction to “Go for it!”*
I arrived at the car park early enough to guarantee a space and then followed the steady stream of runners towards the start. I chatted with some club mates, mostly about how very cold it was, went for a run to warm up, did some stretches and then made my way to the start line.
As is my usual tactic, I had skimmed the details of the route, but not read them in any detail, and as there was a four mile option and this was an eight mile race, I had it firmly in my head that it was a two-lap course. I therefore took great care to notice whether each of the first four miles were uphill, flat, downhill or undulating so that I could pace the second half of the run to perfection. The four mile marker came and went, with no sign of the start. Where was it? Just around the corner? We’re nearly at 4.5 miles. I’m sure this is an eight mile race not a nine mile race. There’s the five mile marker. Oh. Maybe it’s not a lapped course after all. Oh well. I’ll just follow the people in front and see where I end up.
One of the people in front was a club member who I know is much, much faster than I am, but who was obviously just out for a gentle pootle. I managed to stick with her for the first six miles, before she kicked (or I faded) and she vanished into the distance. At which point I turned to the blue man in front of me, who was adopting a walk run strategy which seemed to involve running just as I thought I’d reeled him in. I finally caught up with him on the last big downhill, and he was kind enough to talk me through the rest of the route, telling me exactly when the last uphill finished and setting me up for a sprint to the line.
After which, I didn’t go to the pub, but I did enjoy some utterly scrumptious seedy flapjack and pick up some very useful suggestions for ultra-friendly food.
And I will definitely be trying to fit a couple more MABAC events into my training plan this year.
*I didn’t really do this, but I did manage to deliver an average pace which was faster than any I’ve managed over the distance before.