This time round the long distance races were harder to find. In fact, the only one I could find that was fairly near (75 miles) was the Belper Rugby Rover 30K. And so, without much investigation or information, I signed up for it. And made SuperSal sign up for it as well. SuperSal was worried that I would take off like a rocket and so wasn't sure about running it but I assured her that my strategy was to 9 minute mile it. Secretly I thought that if we were feeling strong by mile 15 we could then kick in the 8:10s if we wanted to. Well har-dee-har-har. Pride comes before fall and all that malarkey.
We arrived well before time and fiddled about with race numbers etc. More or less at 930 about 400 of us set off. Within half a mile of a start we came to a standstill several times - we all had to wedge through a variety of little gates and this caused quite the tailback. Still, it's a good idea to start slow and I didn't think much of it. However, once through the gate it dawned on me. Oh. This was a cross country 30K. That is, off-road. And so it was. A single track along fields led to a stile (the first of SO many) and then off we were. Or rather up we were. Derbyshire is hilly and we had to go up the first hill. And not on a road, remember? So just through the grassy fields up the hill. And on. An on. Stony and root-covered trails were followed by more fields. I stumbled and fell at about 2M not hurting anything. I thought. By mile 7 we had reached our 2nd waterstop and we were at the bottom of a very high and steep hill. My heart sank. By mile 8.5 we had walked / run up most of this hill, climbed over dozens of stiles or little gaps in stone walls between fields (very rustic I know - but I wasn't really focusing on that aspect of things) and I was seriously contemplating a DNF. Berlin is flat. I don't need these horrible hills, not to mention the stupid fields, the cowpats, the gnarly trails. None of it. However, we were in the milddle of nowhere and the only way on was up. So up we went.
And then, almost out of nowhere, at mile 17 I was greeted by my nemesis. Knee pain! No! I haven't had this at all. And now suddenly, out of nowhere, here it was. I tried to stretch but this shot cramps into my calves and hamstrings. Walking was fine, but running hurt. I stopped and started, and eventually got back to a slow and not terribly painful pace. I came through, tired and demoralised, at 3:19. 3:19! That's 10:49 min/mile...
Thank god for Sally. She talked me through, didn't complain about her own footpain, and was very sympathetic about my knee. Not only that. After the shower (which was wonderful) and wedging myself into my new compression tights, Sally's husband Bob got a camping stove going in the back of his car and made us tea and bacon and eggs. Wonderful. Delicious. What a demoralised girl needs.
And then I drove home to my husband to celebrate our 12th wedding anniversary. And watch Usain Bolt power his way to a 100m win. And watch Jessica Ennis finally win gold.
This week is my second silver-bullet week - my son is going to hospital in London today and my mother and I will be staying down there with him. I always knew running might be hard, and given yesterday I think some time off might be the best thing for me. I'm not, at this stage, too worried about my knee. I think it was the hills, and in particular the screaming downhills, which did it. I suspect that, just like with skiing, my quad is enormously tight and will need loosening. As I can't see Jonathan my osteopath until next Monday I will take it easy this week. Take the beginning of the week off, see where I am Wednesday / Thursday for an easy 5 miler.
Finally, here's the profile of the race as posted on their website. As part of their logo. I should have paid more attention ...