The day was absolutely perfect in every way…for the beach. For a 10 mile run – my first race since the marathon – it wasn’t quite as perfect. For my readers over in Australia, when I say it was 27 degrees celcius, you may scoff, but my goodness it was HOT! It took me back to London Marathon day 2007 although the temeperature was even higher. Still, it was wonderful to be racing again and I had a fantastic day.
I parked up not far from the delightfully atmospheric hay cart.
The race was in Heckington in Lincolnshire. Why I was racing that far away from home is a long story which I won’t bore you with here, but actually, it wasn’t too bad. I will be comfortable looking for races which take me more than 100 miles from home again after this one. I left home at around 7.15am for an 11.00 start. It was already warm at that time so it was fairly obvious the day was only going to get hotter. Despite both sat navs telling me different routes, 20 minutes of confusion as I found myself on a new road which neither of the sat navs had any idea about (according to both of them I was driving through a field) and sciatic problems (solved by some strong Neurofen), I made it to the Heckington Show by 10.00am. The run was part of the local agricultural show which was a pretty impressive event. I parked up, put on lots of suncream and went to find the start line and the toilets.
Because it was so warm, my normal loo loop didn’t happen. Obviously my body was determined to retain every bit of moisture I put in it. I was glad, I needed it. When the starting gun went off for two circuits of the main arena before heading out to the two loop route around the country lanes, it was clear that the weather wasn’t going to produce any stellar race times.
Nevertheless, with walking and trying to cool off, I still finished in 1:27.11. Imagine what a time one could have produced if it hadn’t have been so hot! This is because the course was flat and fast, and you know my liking for two loop routes. Anyway, here it is again…the good, the bad and the ugly.
- The scenery: The Lincolnshire countryside is glorious. Coming from London, I can just drink in the English countryside endlessly. From the hay carts and hay bales to the endless fields, it reminded me why I love the countryside so much.
- The marshalls, especially the wonderful lady at 5 miles: As I came to the end of my first loop, one of marshalls saw how hot I was. She asked whether she could take my hat to look after it. Of course, this is my lucky hat with tiger ears so to hand it over was a bit scary, but I was just so hot. I gave her my hat and my Shuffle and oh! what a relief. I was so grateful to her. And better still, just as I was coming to the end of my race, she retrieved my belongings and gave them back to me with a huge smile and word of encouragement. She, and all of the other marshalls were truly fantastic.
- The trophy: That’s two 10 ton laser cut glass trophies I have now! Both Heckington and Leith Hill are now sitting proudly on my dressing table. Much as I love medals, these are really very cool.
- Two loops: I do like these and out and back runs, simply because it is a lot easier to anticipate how close you are to the end. Of course, it also means that the front runners go past you well into their second loop before you have even come close to finishing your first, but I didn’t get lapped so it was fine.
- The Heckington Show: This was just like the Royal Adelaide Show on a small scale! I adored the Show when I was a kid – we would save for it for months. Wandering around Heckington, I looked at the chickens and the baking competitions, the draught horses and the dog show, the embroidery, the nik nak stalls, the sheep and the farrier. Honestly, if it wasn’t so hot and if I hadn’t promised Bachi I would be back in London for 6.00 I would have stayed all afternoon.
Horses! This made me very happy after my long hot run.
- The heat: I have gained a new level of respect for Ethiopian runners.
- The lack of shade: The route was along a series of country lanes, most of which went through fields and lacked any kind of overhanging shade. All you could do was put your head down and plod on, promising yourself you would stop for a breather at the next bend or the next fence post. Fortunately I had covered myself with suncream before the race so I didn’t burn too badly, despite the amount of sweat and water I poured over my head.
- Not enough water: One can’t expect the organisers of this fabulous little local event to anticipate the kind of temperatures we had, and with only 175 odd runners, water at 2, 4, 6 and 8 should have been plenty. But I am not sure whether it was and I am grateful to the tiny little additional water station which seem to have been set up between 3 and 4.
- Trying to get changed after the race: picture this – stinkingly hot car, without much room to manoevre. Soaking wet Nancy from a combination of sweat and water over the head. Busy car parking area with very little privacy and a need to replace the running gear with something a little more respectable to wander around the show in. Fortunately, the car has tinted windows at the back, so with the help of a towel, I did manage to finally remove the nasty soggy running gear and put on a pair of shorts and a singlet top. But I think I was sweating more by the time the exercise had been completed than I had been finishing the race.
Fortunately for these chaps, they were only doing a bit of marching – not setting off for a 10 mile jaunt.