The last fell race I ran I came last. I was hoping to better that result this time. I don't know whether anything south of the peak district can really classify as a fell race and I did see at least one guy wearing tights so figured this was a southern softie thing. The Box Hill Fell Race was going to include a few ups and downs though.
I have run (or walked) up and down box hill many times, this is as close as London gets to having a big hill. I have decided to do more stuff like this rather than plod as many ultras as possible between now and the Grand Union Canal Race. I need to be lighter and faster and figured burning myself 9 miles at a time would be more beneficial that shlomping another 50 miles. I blame Robbie Britton for this thinking.
Plus this was an event with a huge serpie turn out. There were some of the same faces there that I am used to. I find the starts of these races offer a different kind of endurance, for example I have to endure the comment "Isn't this a bit short for you" at least every five minutes before the start and during the race. Also I don't think people here know about ultra-crapping. If there is one thing ultra-runners are much quicker at it is expressing their bowel systems. Often it has to be done outdoors with a 20 second window of privacy and so you learn to crouch, push, wipe and run almost without breaking stride. Why were the people in these cublicles so so long, did they take a paper in there to read?
The start is up the grassy face of Box Hill, over some long grass. Everyone was keen to show that they can run uphill and whereas normally I'd be walking this and having a sandwich but 100 meters into a 9 mile race it didn't seem appropriate. A few minutes later we were at the top and running on some lovely trail.
For the first time in a while I actually started to feel like I could do some actual running. I was running down the hills with great gusto, careful not to plow into the back of others in front, I thought "wow - I'm not the worlds shittest fell runner".
The usual behaviour of opening gates and then holding them for the next runner went out the window as we all just pushed them open and left them to fly back in others faces. I was wearing Walsh's like a proper fell runner which gave me amazing traction on the ground, I should have used these for the Country to Capital last week.
It felt good to run some miles on a trail that were faster than canal boat. I wasn't pushing too hard and didn't feel as out of breath running up some of these hills as I did when walking some last weekend. The ground was pretty dry actually even though low down the fields were under water. It has been some time since I ran up a hill and it felt great.
Some runners commented at the end that they never spent so much of a race walking. For me it was the opposite, running 95%. I supposed 5% walking is a lot for some but most of my races have much more than that.
So - how about this for awkward.
I was running behind a girl, she was doing a great job of sweeping the hazards ahead of me and so I was happy to let the gates and trees hit her in the face (yep, no chivalry in fell running) and for her to slide on any slippy bits. A some point she turned around said to me
Hey, your that guy who posted on Facebook about that game you play where you try to guess a girls underwear when running
What is the response to that? "I have no idea what you mean dear now let me pass".
She could actually be talking about one of two things. There is a game that I am sure many a man plays when tired in an ultra where you try to guess "pants, thong or commando". It can help pass the time when things get hard.
However I think she was refering to my "confession" I made on a facebook group recently where I say sometimes in a race I am very tired, I play the same game but then sometimes realise that I have been playing it with another man who is wearing tights. On realising this I just shrug and think "no one else is around, no one needs to know, I'll just carry on playing".
Anyway, perhaps I need a therapist.
I got chatting to her (Jenni) who was at the talk I did last month about running and the mind. It's funny how every race I have done recently I have got to the stage where I wanted it to be over at some point and didn't enjoy the last few miles, even in 5k and 10k races. With about a mile to go I was still full of energy, the climbs and descents not whacking me as much as I would have thought.
The last half a mile is a nice steady down hill that you can get a good pace on. I have no idea what time i finished, about 1.20 ish or something I think which was faster than I thought I would I could do something that bumpy in my current state.
SO, more stuff like this please.