Last weekend was a Bank Holiday weekend and it co-incided with the most beautiful weather we’ve had in the UK since we moved back. I believe it was the hottest Bank Holiday Monday since records began or something lovely. It was 26C and it was bliss. My boys abandoned me and headed up to London to see Big Brother for the weekend – I settled down in our lovely garden with the cat! It wasn’t unpleasant – all that sunshine, peace, rosé wine and ginger snuggles.
On the Sunday evening, I went to see my parents for dinner and my dad mentioned that there was a ‘fun run’ in a village near where he runs his model steam train. ‘You should do it’, he told me. ‘I’ll come and cheer you on’. Initially I said no because I’d arranged to meet Nic at 6.30am to run in the bluebell woods but Dad nonchalantly said I could do both…so I found myself signing up for an impromptu 10k trail race.
6.30 am came and Nic arrived at my front door. We ran six of the happiest miles ever – the woods were spectacularly beautiful with their carpets of bluebells. We had them all to ourselves so we ran and squealed and took photos and basically overdosed on endorphins. Definitely my best run since we moved back! We got back at 7.45. Nicola went home, I did some hasty baby-wiping, changed some clothes, got in the car and drove to Wherwell for the race.
This is a little village race but it was excellently organised. As I came off the main road, I noticed ‘Fun run’ road signs that directed me straight to the fields where it was being held. There was plenty of parking. Picking up my number took a second. In the clubhouse there were drinks and cake (and free water) and there was sunscreen available too as it was already pretty warm! People were friendly and chatty – good weather does this to Brits! There was a race briefing by a funny antipodean, we all lined up and we were off.
I had been flying high on endorphins the whole morning and was utterly convinced I’d crush the race. Within four steps, I realized my legs were pretty tired already and maybe the 5k would have been a better option. But whatever…let’s enjoy this.
The race was beautiful – one of the prettiest routes I’ve ever run. We crossed a little road, went under a railway bridge and started climbing through a field. For the next six miles we ran through woodland (‘forest’ is stretching it a little), through fields, down narrow little trails lined by hedges…it was always changing and endlessly pretty! I really loved the route. It wasn’t easy – there was plenty of climbing throughout the whole distance but also there were two aid stations with water and jelly babies and despite the heat, it never got too hot as we were in the trees for a lot of it.
Eventually I found myself running back down that first field as three deer danced across it into the trees and then I was back at the staging area and crossing the line. I’d run 6.4 miles at an average pace of 9.51 which I was delighted about, given the terrain, the heat and the six miles I’d already had in my legs at the start line.
My dad was there at the end to buy me coffee and cake, to give me hugs and to take bad photos 🙂
Amusingly, I was recognized during the race. I was slogging up a long incline in the woods, another girl a step or so behind me on my left. As the climb leveled out, I gasped ‘You okay?’ as a sign of solidarity. Much less puffed than me, she said ‘You were at the Fleet Half last weekend weren’t you?”. Yes I was. How did she know? ‘I recognized you by your running style’ she told me. In my blog recap of last week’s race, I mentioned how two women had commented on me running like a machine with my fast leg turnover – they’d kindly attributed it to cycling rather than short stumpy legs. Well it was those ladies again!! I caught up with them after today’s race and got to thank them for their encouragement last week. What a lovely small world.
This race cost the grand total of £13 – we got a sweet little medal at the end and a really gorgeous running experience. If we aren’t away next BH weekend, I will definitely be back. What a great day!