Running with the boys – Salisbury 50km

I had this race on my, maybe if I can fit it in, race calendar. It is run by the Salisbury Fire Station and there are the options of doing 10,20,30,42 or 50km, its called the 54321 because you go over 5 rivers: Avon, Bourne, Ebble, Nadder and Wylye.  Climb 4 hills: Old Sarum, King Manor, Clearbury Hill Fort and Salisbury Race Course. Visit 3 Country Estates: Clarendon, Longford and Wilton. See 2 Castles: Old Sarum and Longford (oops missed these) and 1 Cathedral.

I didn’t really want to taper into the race, but have learnt that you have to respect the distance and even as a ‘training’ race you cant go in with completely smashed legs as otherwise you ll end up doing more damage than good and having a pretty miserable time- as I have learnt! So I did one hard session leading up to it this week and the rest pretty steady and easy miles so legs were tired, but still able to bend-always a bonus!

Up at 5.30am to get things ready before the kids were awake and make the designated number of ‘jammy sandwiches’ which are an essential part of an under 2s race day nutrition! My eldest wakes up so excited on race day morning, he loves getting in the car in his PJ’s and getting stuck into aforementioned jammy sandwiches, in fact incorrect calculations meant all sandwiches were eaten before we had even left the driveway!

Easy registration and then back to the car to get the kids dressed and clear up mess of jammy sandwiches. It was pouring with rain so I decided not to treat Wiltshire to my crop top, but a good old vest which makes carrying gels a bit easier. I wasn’t sure about the aid stations, but took the risk that I could manage with enough water from these and carrying my gels. The kids start to get a bit fractious when they realise Mum is actually running away from then, so hubby took them off to the swings, so I could stand around posing/strecthing for a few minutes before the gun. I love having the kids at the races, but it is sometimes so hard to even get a number on my vest when they are both vying to be carried or fed. Hubby and I have already decided for my key races next year to enlist the help of grandmas and grandads as its exhausting for him too trying to crew for me and cart them around the county.

I didn’t bother with a warm up as thought 50km was long enough to get into my groove, but positioned myself at the front of the race so i would know where I was in the field in the first few miles. The lead men set off at a cracking pace. My flipping garmin has finally given up the ghost so I had no idea of pace or distance, but wasn’t that bothered till the last few miles when I had no idea how far to go and was starting to lose the will a little bit. As we went through the first mile I asked the chap I was running next to our split, 6,05 he said, oops a bit fast, but I felt fine and thought a bit of adrenaline can count for that speed. I could see the lead man and bike about 50m ahead, with a couple of guys in between and I just let them do their own thing and tried to relax into the run.

I had two aims for this race one was to run my own race, not to worry about what others were doing and my other was to remain positive throughout. I really struggle with negative self talk, so I had two rules. My pace and only my pace was I to run and if the monkey got on my shoulder and started bleating my ear, I was to give him a good rattle then put him back in his cage.

Eldest suitably impressed with mums achievement

We did a 5mile loop before joining the marathon runners onto a 26 mile circular loop around the south of Salisbury. It was a beautiful trail with a few really challenging climbs, some rough downhills which I was hopeless on and lots of trails and tracks. I tried to stick to a good honest hard pace, not enough that I was blowing, but enough that I was having to concentrate. I felt really strong up the hills and was pegging back the lead men every time we had a long climb. I went through 10 miles in 1.06ish which I felt was perhaps a tad fast, but I felt good. The temptation to crack on and take the overall lead of the race was calling to my competitive spirit, but I knew once I had done that you instantly become the hunted and mentally the race takes a new dimension. So I let the two men ahead of me fight it out and just bided my time.

After about 8 miles the lead marathon woman ploughed past me going at quite a speed. I let her go, but after a mile or so pegged her back and then we ran together for almost 8 miles. She was cracking along and I was working hard to keep up, but it felt so good to actually be ‘racing’ an ultra rather than just surviving. We had 2 long climbs before the turn for home over the last 8 miles. On the first she strode away from me, but on the second I felt good, maybe more confident in my ability as the race progressed. At the top I pushed on along the ridge and was left to run the last hour on my own. I knew there were still two men ahead, so I put my music on and put my head down to ‘work’ all the way home. It was a lovely long downhill stretch and then a long pull into Salisbury around the back roads. Unfortunately either all the markers had been removed or it was presumed people would know the way, but I didn’t have a clue where to go. Fortunately the 2nd place marathon man came alongside me and I followed him through the back streets, desperately trying to keep up and not lose sight of my route to the finish! As we approached about 3 miles to go I overtook the 2nd place ultra male runner , sad that he was struggling in the closing stages, but elated that I was going to finish 2nd overall. I estimated that I went through the marathon in about 3.08 and thought a 3.45 finish was a good result, but the final two miles through the centre of Salisbury on crammed streets with little direction meant I lost a bit of time. But I wasn’t bothered, I was so happy to have run so strong up to them, to have stayed positive and to see the effects of all my long hard lonely training coming to fruition.

A cup the size of a toddler from a fireman what more could a girl ask for?!

And  it was all over, apart from the then 2.5hrs to wait for the prize giving, when they put my result down in the marathon times and the nice lady questioned whether I really could have beaten all those men?! Nice lady take a look at my thighs!!

Hubby and the kids did me proud on what was a rather dull day for them. The sugar high inside the fire station after being fed a dubious number of cup cakes was something to behold and when we finally got home they (the kids, not hubby)  insisted we set up a check point which they kept running past shouting ‘gels’  and ‘water’ and I got repeatably told off if I didnt clap or cheer loud enough! Now where have they learnt that from?