“It’s less than 12km,” I say. “How hard can it be?” I add turning to hubby Steve. We’re sat planning a few races.
We’ve spent the summer entertaining Ultra Trail Spain running guests and races always have to fit around their needs.
I’ve also been recuperating and rebuilding post injury. It’s taken around six months. There’s been a few niggles and the obligatory torturous Global Postural Reeducation reviews. My running style has changed, my stride is shorter, and I’m a lot slower.
Hitting the tarmac too!
Steve has also been embarking on a ‘wheelbarrow workout schedule’ as we undertake a pretty epic construction programme in our house.
We’ve been churning out a short road race at least once a month since June, we’re a tad rusty racing off road. Of course we trail run all of the time but it’s not the same as getting onto some unchartered territory. Spoilt for choice on the trail race front at this time of the year we decided we should get racing off-road before a little ultra we’ve scheduled toward the end of the year (my first this year!)
Our online choice – a 30 odd km race or what seemed a very short trail race. Both our training plans had a 50km scheduled earlier in the week and so the shorter option seemed a fitting choice.
Wise to my world, Steve piped up: “What’s the profile look like?”
“Um, I don’t know!” I replied. “It’s not going to be high altitude though.”
We duly enter.
On the Friday before the Sunday’s race, I happened across a Facebook post confirming the route of the III Coliseo race, downloading the file to reveal a rather jagged profile. Oops! There didn’t seem to a 100m of flat anywhere on the course.
Breaking the news to Steve, I quickly glossed over the 600m +- profile information, by reminding him how short the route was.
A new way to start a race
We rolled into the nearby town of Almedinilla. It’s of Roman villa fame, with the race taking its name from the rebuilt coliseum. After a sombre blessing to the Roman gods (yup, new one on us too!) we were off and over the startline, with me strategically placed last.
Knowing this course really wouldn’t be suited to me, I just wanted to nurse my knee round, come back injury free, and firing on all cylinders. With a 3km road start, I couldn’t help but lace my way through to the middle of the pack, hitting the trails, we were immediately onto single track and heading steep uphill before coming to an abrupt stop are we queued to scramble up a bank. This was to be a theme with plenty of stop starting and natural obstacles to negotiate along the way.
Runners were assisting runners, turning and pulling each other up rock faces as well. as shoving each other up…although I think in my case this was fear by the guy behind who saw my backside lurching rapidly in his direction as my foot slipped on a thin branch.
I made slow progress but somehow made it home injury free and second in my age group – lack of female entries I suspect.
Back to the dreaded tempo
The following week was the final race of the Granada road series. So as to avoid a fine for not handing your timing chip back, pretty much everyone turns out for a final foray on a two lap fast and flat 10km course.
With over 1000 runners packed into the starting pen, we were nose to tail, and it’s impossible to get a clean start. Regardless I had my 4:20 min/km target and off we set streaming down the road. The first lap was crazy, with much ducking and diving to get away from the masses. The crowds thinned over the second lap, and I was cat and mousing with a chap who’d decided I was his official pacer.
Determined not to get caught up in a charge to the finish, I doggedly plugged away running a negative split, backing off as soon as my average pace was correct. The guy hung on my tail, chugging along, before nipping past as we entered the stadium and headed to the finish line. No sprinting for me this year – lesson learned from a pinched hamstring last year.
All in all a decent tempo run on the dreaded road! And yes, the road race felt much harder than the trail race the week before.