Well 3 weeks into my comeback trail I ran the race that I never expected to do this year the Longleat Safari Park Half Marathon and it was amazing, HILLY but amazing hahaha but more about that in a moment. Last year after running with our lovely pals Ian and JoJo in the Arundel Castle 10k we all decided to book the Longleat half marathon together and even tho it was only in its 2nd year it had fast become known for its relentless hills but I quite liked that challenge so was looking forward to it. I then booked the Rome Marathon for next weekend and my coach Ant strongly recommended that I did not run Longleat the week before, in his words ” I dont trust you to run it sensibly Jules so your not running it” hahaha so there you go I called and cancelled. After damaging my Achilles in December and having to postpone Rome as a result I found myself with a free weekend so I called the British Heart Foundation and asked if I could still run to which they replied yes of course 🙂 so there ya go I was in again. I also missed the Longleat 10k a few weeks back which made today even more of a bonus.
After a mega long wedding yesterday I went to bed far too late and to be honest not feeling great either but I woke up stupidly excited about todays race but again I was not feeling top notch in fact for the first time ever pre race I had to take Imodium (enough said I think) Thankfully they did the trick and I started to feel better as we set off at 6:30am for Longleat. We had a lovely drive down and arrived at about 7:50 to pick up my T-shirt and grab a coffee, the T-shirt was a crappy cotton thing only good for bed 🙂 but the coffee was a costa strong and black which certainly hit the spot, After last nights wedding I came home to a pint of milk and 3 slices of peanut butter and jam on toast and that and my Porridge with Banana this morning I felt full of energy, although that might also explain my tummy upset 🙂 seriously I think that was some Fish I ate earlier but hey ho !
Soon after our coffee our friends Ian and Jojo arrived as well as my our club mate Trevor so we all hung out for half an hour until it was time for the last minute prep when I know we all have our own little routines so Sue and I headed back to the car to put on my various lotions and potions and then it was time to hit the start.
The start was pretty busy with around 800 starters and I started about half way back I guess with Trevor simply because I did not want to go off too fast because of those hills which for the record all 800 people were talking about :-).
The horn sounded and we were off, I had to walk over the line and for a good few meters after the line but I was very happy chatting to Trev and another chap who used to live in Lordshill but now lives in Cardiff and commented that he saw the mighty hiller’s in Cardiff parkrun so I told him that would be Dean and Emily I reckon 🙂
I ran past Sue with her camera with Trev and got a lovely smile before I started to break away from the clumps running up the first hill into the distance, this first hill was about .68 of a mile before it levelled out and headed back down towards Longleat House although it was not too much of a hill to be fair, I remember thinking if this is as bad as jot got then happy days, clearly it got a whole lot worse haha. The first 4 miles seemed to go up and up and up like no race I have ever experienced before eventually I saw the faster runners coming back towards us and I kept thinking great we get to run all the way back down again 🙂 again I was wrong coz shortly after that we had a massive downhill to the first turnaround point so all my dreams of a long run back downhill meant I had to run back up this bugger first, a while further and we had reached the 5mile point and it was down or flat until 6mile where there was the mother of all hills which went onwards and upwards for about a mile and each time you thought you reached the top all you could see was up up up up I kid you not they could have made a movie just from my reactions 🙂 about 300m from the top I slowed into a fast walk and I must confess I was knackered but I gave myself a quick talking too and stepped up the pace again knowing full well that the worse was yet to come, miles 8 thru 10 were reputed to be a living hell!!! having said that it continued to climb gently until we reached about mile 8.5 and I though once again “well that was not so bad” but then as I rounded the bend I saw the hills lol ! so into RunCamp mode I went and soldiered on up this bloody big hill only walking for a few brief moments to drink the bottle of water given to me at the last station.
As we reached the top of the hill it was actually about 10.6 miles and the view was nothing short of breathtaking, you would see for miles including right down (yes I said down) to the beautiful Longleat house and eventual finish line although to be fair I knew we had another loop to do and suspected another hill !
I quite easily managed to power down the hills which went on until mile 12, it was awesome and I felt like an Olympic runner, my form was perfect and I felt epic, as we reached the house I saw Sue with her camera and the crowds were going wild with excitement and if your a runner you will know what that does for you, I glanced at my watch and though to myself if I can knock out a decent 7:30 minute mile for the last one I will be on for a post injury PB which believe me is quite an achievement given this race, I powered on up the hill overtaking what felt like hundreds of runners but in reality this was my “gladiator” moment and it was probably a dozen people at best 🙂 but the important part was I powered up the last hill which was about .6 of a mile and then as I turned the corner and came though the massive decorative gates I saw the most epic site, the finish tunnel about half a mile away down hill ! I powered on hard and fast through the growing cheering, whooping and clapping crowds past my lovely Sue and into the finishing tunnel with a mention from the compare about my speed and style and it LOVED it, I absolutely loved it.
I crossed the line in 1:43 which was 3 minutes faster than the very flat silverstone half 2 weeks ago which means my form is definitely returning, I will update my exact time and stats when they are released on Monday.
I went for a good stretch and met with Sue who was delighted with my time too, we then sat and watched the race finishers for the next 45 minutes or so whilst waiting for all of our mates to finish, Trevor came in next within 9 minutes of a PB so was very happy and Ian and JoJo also within a few minutes of a PB and Ian actually had dental surgery yesterday so that was an awesome result for him.
I am pleased to say that neither my Achilles nor my knee injury gave me any problems today although sat here 5 hours later I do ache now 🙂
I loved todays race (just in case you missed that part) and I love my medal which is already on my wall in my Gym, the 5 of us headed back to the cafe and I had a hot roast beef roll with horseradish, actually I had 2 and a bottle of Magners which I think I deserved. After saying our goodbye’s Sue and I had a wander around the park for an hour and munched on sweets and ice cream so I knew I was feeling better. A great trip home so all in all a perfect day out.
Longleat was a great race and much better supported than I had expected, the BHF run some fab races so I knew it would all go to plan today, yes it was hilly but fun too, the camaraderie between the runners up those hills was like something I had not experienced before, simply outstanding.
Next Sunday see’s my 1 year running anniversary, I have come a long way since that first 26:30 minute parkrun. For starters I have knocked 6 minutes off of that 🙂 Next Sunday I have a few celebrations planned all going well injury wise and I cant wait to share them.
Thanks to all my friends for the support today and leading up to today, you are as epic as todays race was.