45 minutes in the hurt locker

I’m an ultra runner. I love lacing up, slinging my pack on my back and plodding out for a day on the trails. But I also know that the best and strongest runners are all-rounders.

As a species, us humans are inherently looking for an easy life. We love doing what we can already do, but this makes us lazy and in fitness terms it means we lose it. Over the last few years, I’ve started to find it more and more difficult to find the motivation to run a bit quicker. True, I do get injured more often than not when I do, but I’ve been shirking my responsibilities to speed.

So, in an effort to ensure I do regularly keep my legs turning over, and get some pace work in on the road, I’ve signed Steve and I up for our local ‘Gran Premio de Fondo’ series of races here in Granada. Yes, we won’t make every race but for 40 euros for the whole series, including timing chip hire, we can’t really go wrong.

Our first race of the season was a flat 10km alongside about 1,500 other folk on 19 February. I knew it wasn’t going to be a speedy, speedy one since we’d had a high volume guest with us all week, but running on slightly fatigued legs was an opportunity not to be missed.

Knowing there would be a large turnout, Steve and I arrived early to get a parking space…so had everyone else! The queues for number collection (including 30th anniversary long sleeved tech top) and toilets were long, but we were quickly at the front and pinning our bibs on our vests and lacing our chips on our shoes.

Gerbil wheel warm ups!

There was time for a quick coffee before the gerbil wheel warm ups. I’m not so keen on trotting around and around in circles so did my own dynamic warm ups, playing particular attention to sideways movement. I knew there’d be loads of lateral switches trying to get clear of the usual running road-block start.

With about 10 minutes to go, we headed to the corrals, which notoriously most people completely ignore! I got to the front of the 4-4:30 min/km pace – which is spot on where I can run….unfortunately there’s always a lot of very ‘ambitious’ runners ahead in these races. I don’t like to start further forward as I know that I do take a few km to get revved up, but for future races I’m going to have to bite the bullet and get my elbows out and muscle up front.

A quick catch-up with Eric of AAUT organization and we were off at 7:40 min/km. Yup, it was a slow start! After much weaving, shuffling and side stepping, I had a eureka moment and tagged on the back of a ‘guia’ guiding a blind runner. I’d spotted that when he shouted ‘guia’ people got out of the way and I could also slip through the gap!

The guia and his charge were breathing heavily at 3km and with a less dense crowd to navigate I passed by. Shortly after, I spotted Eric bounding along. He’s easy to spot, towering over the shorter runners. A few words and I was again on my way.

The course was now out of the town and into the campo, twisting up and over the motorway. Tagging a fellow Moclin runner at about 7km, he passed by me with 1km to go shouting for me to follow him…but if I’m honest it was starting to hurt…and hard.

Me – just in shot! My face says it all!

My time in the hurt locker was risking breaking me and I had to dig deep as the course headed uphill, before swinging into the finish, which I was mighty relieved to see. Coughing and spluttering into the finish tunnel, it was time to grab a goody bag (race tee, banana, juice, water, and croissant) before joining the beer queue.

Crossing the line in 44:24 was good enough for 9th woman and 2nd in age group. I can’t say it was pleasant but definitely a necessary evil. I’d taken about 90 seconds to cross the start line, so my time was where it should be for my current fitness.

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