I didn’t even know where Ansteys Hill was until last Wednesday night when I ran it with one of my semi-regular groups. I actually prefer NOT studying the course before running an event. (Except for Yurrebilla and Heysen where the training runs leave you with few or no surprises come race day!)
This was my first race since the Kuitpo Forest event in November. As regular readers (if there are any!) may recall, I had a pretty crap preparation for that event but ended up having a great run, so I joked that my pre-race prep from now on had to consist of copious quantities of wine, constant snacking and no actual dinner. Fortunately it didn’t come to that (although the aforementioned night WAS a great night), with my pre-race meal consisting of some pretty special pizzas thanks to running buddy Tory and her pizza chef extraordinaire husband Charlie.
My week had been up and down. I had been for a more successful swim on Monday (non-leaky goggles, yay!) and 2 relatively easy runs on Tuesday and Wednesday. Then on Thursday I got a bit carried away running with newcomer to our group, Peter. I blame him but it may have been me who set the pace. Either way I ran a lot faster than I have run in a long time. My left hip started complaining almost immediately the run was over. It is an occasional problem, usually in runs over 40km and when I run fast, and when I run up hills. Fortunately Sunday’s race would be ‘only’ 12.5km but it did involve hills and presumably would also involve running fast. I was a little concerned…
My Friday hill run was a struggle. Saturday’s parkrun I initially was going to ‘jog’ but after a slow first km (due to starting near the back) I quickly settled into a rhythm and ended up with a sub-25. Not as fast as recent weeks but comfortable. I then went for a good solid half hour swim and felt great after that.
Race day the niggle was still there but I wasn’t going to let it stop me. It was to be, after all, my last race for a good few weeks so there would be plenty of time to recover afterwards. Plus I could always substitute some runs for swims if I had to.
I got to the start line at 6:30am, an hour early, as car parking was limited. Despite a forecast top of 30 degrees C, it was cold when I got there! It was great to see so many people and so many familiar faces… trail running events in SA have really taken off this year!
This event was part 1 of a series of 4, one a month over the traditionally quiet summer months. It is run by Yumigo!’s Ben Hockings and once again he put on a wonderful event with a fantastic team of smiling volunteers. It was my first time running one of these events. I’d opted for the 12.5km long course because I think I tend to come good later in races, so the longer distance suits me better. Plus, both events were the same price so I’d get better value for money!
The race started with a hill. Hip not happy. Jane not happy.
But as I settled into my stride I loosened up. I didn’t feel the hip much after that. I did wish on numerous occasions that I had gone for the short course…
The short course started 5 minutes before the long course (I think because of the much larger than expected turnout!) That meant that, as we went along, we were passing short course runners. Now I am one who likes to know who my competition is, so I did ask a few people along the way, “Short or long?” This is completely acceptable in this situation but if I said it to a guy at the pub…
My biggest problem during the race, probably for the second half (I wasn’t looking at my watch) was a very sharp rock in my shoe, just under the heel. Every now and then I would manage to work it forward so it would be under my arch, but it kept finding its way back to my heel. On the downhills, which I otherwise enjoyed, I was running on my toes to take the pressure off my heel. Stopping to remove the rock was NOT an option!
Towards the end I could see a female runner in front of me. She had to be a long course runner. We had passed the finish line (which would have been my finish if I’d done the short course) and were on our additional loop. I was running with Leon and Neil at that stage and said “I can’t catch her, she looks too strong!”. They thought otherwise, and between them they expertly paced me to the point where I passed her. I managed to stay in front but was frequently looking over my shoulder to see if she was coming back at me. (I spoke to her after the race. Her name was Jenny and she finished not long after me. Turned out she wasn’t as strong as she looked – I need to stop psyching myself out!)
I knew a placing was out of the question – the top 3 were Lauren who is just a machine, Kazu who finished second at Yurrebilla and Bronwyn who finished third at Heysen and first at Kuitpo. In the end I was 5th female which I was pleased with. 4th in my age group though, ouch! Talk about being born at the wrong time!
At the end I saw Andy who I’d met at Kuitpo after following him for a long time on Instagram. He is about to move to the UK so it was great to run one last race with him before he leaves! I look forward to following his UK adventures via social media!
All in all it was another wonderful trail event – well done to Ben and his team – a perfect day!
I can highly recommend the Trail Series for runners of all abilities. I will definitely be doing more events in the series in the new year!