Race Running

Salcey Forest Challenge 6 hours 2019

This race I signed up to quite late, with only a couple of weeks to go.

This event sounded perfect – 6 hours to go as far as you can on a 5.3km route. It didn’t matter if you wanted to do one lap or ten, everyone was welcome.

I wanted to test myself, but being a self proclaimed slow runner, I didn’t want to put myself under too much pressure.

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So, I just had a moment and signed up. And immediately thought “what have I done?!”. What if everyone was a super sprinting ultra runner? What if I couldn’t go far enough?! Well, it was done now and I kept reassuring myself that I was sure the website said you could just do one lap if you wanted to.

I set a little goal in my mind of a half. I have done 3 halfs before – one as part of my walking marathon, a training walk for the marathon and a jog attempt last year for a virtual race that ended up including a lot of walking.

The week before I did 10 miles as a confidence boost and tried gels for the first time. Thankfully the brand I chose sat nicely with me and I was all set…

The day of, I arrived nice and early (parking anxieties ahoy!) and registered. Then my timing chip promptly de-attached itself and I had a panic as it was lost – the run director was the nicest guy ever about it. It turned up about 3 minutes later. I then safety pinned and tied it on. It wasn’t going anywhere a second time…

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The weather was cool and foggy to start with, but the day brightened up as we went on. After the briefing we were soon off and I met lots of the other participants. Walkers, runners, marathoners, ultra folks, people running by heart rate-ers… I had my headphones on but I only had them connected for important phone calls (at first), it was so lovely to be in the forest!

I set my Garmin to count down from a half, I always feel more motivated this way rather than watching the km clock up.

The first 5km I went off too fast – you always think you won’t be the one to start too quick… but I got carried away.

The loops were indeed 5.3km, and after each one you had the option to stop at the aid station, where you could leave your own things too. This was amazingly stocked with a whole array of sweets, water, squash, electrolyte drinks (yes please) and I wish I had sampled a bit more being honest and remembered to take a photo. The problem is running makes me not hungry.

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The first stop I took a chocolate mouse (I hadn’t seen them for years) and had some electrolyte drink and set off on my next lap.

The next lap I managed to PB 10km. Still going too fast. If (when) I do this again I will definitely learn my lesson. I think.

The friendly chats continued on the way round, with a few people saying how much they like the Lonely Goat Running Club / the t-shirts. I got chatting to a few different people as they wizzed past. I kept up my fast for me plodding.

After the second lap it was lovely to hear a personalised “well done, Kaz!” as I passed the chip timer thingymawotsit.

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Refueled again and prepared to set off on my third lap. I took two more chocolate mice, lots of fluid and had one of my own gels. Ready to go again.

This lap I forced myself to slow down a bit. This was my “photo taking” lap. I also did a few nice waves for the lovely photographer, Nick.

I amused myself with a few selfies, taking photos of the great signs dotted about and did turn my music on for a while. I still felt great, and was confident the half was within my reach. I did think to myself “is this really only half way on the lap?” even though I had done it twice before and knew perfectly well how far halfway was.

I came back to the aid station (I got a “well done, Kaz” again!) and chatted for a while. I got a bit carried away with my chatting and forgot myself a little. I couldn’t face any nibbles this time, even though there were some great looking bits out. I would definitely go to a Big Bear picnic if they ever hosted one…

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My new mantra

More water and gels and off I went.

Lap 4. This was a tough one. I text my husband during this one and he replied “less than a parkrun to go!” it was helpful but also… not.

I took my time, walked a km or so, until it got to the point where a slow jog was actually more comfortable than continuing to walk. This lap felt like the longest run ever. The tunes went on, I tried to visualise which bit of my home parkrun I was on and all sorts of mind games were happening.

Jelly legs even made an appearance!

I got to the bit where the runners come at each other either coming back or going out and I knew I was nearly home! I had to run the last bit, proper run, so off I went with lots of “well dones” from the other guys.

And then I was back! I rang the bell (a very lackluster ring, but it was all I could manage).

I shuffled my way over to get my medal and apple juice and also got a surprise flapjack. I sat on a sloped bank (I was worried if I sat on the flat I’d never get up again) and chatted to a few guys then took a few moments to myself (and the AMAZING flapjack.)

I was so proud of myself and the fact I managed to do it, and it was a lovely small event in a great location. The thing that I liked the most was the fact everyone was so nice. The other runners, organisers, volunteers…

And it was all over. I drove home, showered, and sat on my couch for 3 hours.

There were some great race photos afterwards, and I was really impressed by the speed of them getting them up.

Photo by Nick at Big Bear Events

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