Monday, 25 January 2016

RACE 2 - Lyme Park Night Run

Saturday night I travelled to Lyme Park in Cheshire with a group of 4 other Greenfield Greyhounds to take part in one of the National Trust's series of Night Runs. One Greyhound was recovering from injury, another was racing for the first time and none of us had run the course before. With a body like the National Trust involved, it's a well publicised event that attracts a wide range of skill levels and experience. I think that's a good thing, but we were not let off with an easy course!

The night was a little cold while waiting around at the start and although it was nice and dry during the day, the rain decided to pour down for race time. That didn't stop us, but it did mean the course was extra slippy. It's muddy to begin with and has lots of tree roots and puddles to jump over, but with some quite steep ascents and 250 runners churning the ground this became a very tricky course on which to remain upright.

The first hill was only a minute or so into the run and managed to split up the Greyhounds quite early. But it was a great sight to see a long line of bobbing head torches climbing up and have the wonder of Manchester arrayed before us at the top. We then turned away and into the forested sections. More climbing, more mud, more roots, and a few stiles to climb over. The course was well marshalled - thanks to all marshals who stand out there in all weathers to make sure we go the right way and get a heads up on tricky sections.

Towards the end of the forest section I couldn't see where I was going. By this point my glasses were full of rain and I wasn't able to run quick enough to clear the fogged lenses. Added to this, the night torch illuminated my cold breath to become a blanket of blinding white in the midst of pitch dark forest. I had a reasonable pace up to this point, but had to slow right down for the final crest. In the end I took my glasses off, as it was just too dangerous.

The last descent was long, working its way down the muddy hill to pick up a bridle path and eventually end up on the tarmac drive back towards the beautifully-lit grand house. A few final fast sweeping bends meant picking up more and more speed - a really good way to conclude the course, along with the cheer of the finish line crowds.

My current barometer for predicting a finish time is 6 minutes per kilometre. This course was supposed to be around 6.8km, so I was forecasting a 41 minute finish. I'd completed Hit the Trails at a speedy pace of 5:30/km, so had a potential finish time of just over 37 minutes in mind. In reality the course was even shorter - my Strava had it as 6.2km, although there wasn't any signal out there so that could be inaccurate - and I ended up completing the course in 41 minutes 50 seconds.

This is slower than I wanted, especially given the shorter distance, but I'm happy enough given the conditions and terrain. Looking at my Strava data, I can see my pace increasing after the first hill - from 6:49/km on kilometre 2 to 5:47/km on kilometre 4 and 4:44/km on kilometre 6. Can I just say that again... 4 minutes 44 seconds for the last km... for me that's very fast! That last hill was terrible - I slowed right down to 8:49/km pace! If I could run that again and see where I was going, I reckon I could shave a couple of minutes off my finish time.

So there we go - race 2 in the bag. A free bottle of water and a lovely cup of hot soup for the runners topped off a great race. We were given a goody bag of National Trust info, water bottle and snack... and a glow in the dark medal!

Next up is the Huddersfield 10km. It will be a nice change to have a road race, but this will have even more hills - over 100m more climbing than Lyme Park (which is already 158m)... oof!

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