Friday, 17 October 2014

Ridgeway Run 2014 - heavy breathers and fast women

The Ridgeway Run for 2014 was again a good experience although the heavy breathers and fast women were an unexpected feature.  My last participation in this lovely race was 2011 and I remember it as a nice, smallish, local race which was free from the commercialisation and fuss over bigger events.  While the runner numbers have clearly grown over the years, it still has the same feel about it.

The route is the same as far as I can remember apart from one small tweak.  The route goes from the edge of Tring in Hertfordshire, up to the Ashridge monument, then heading northeast through the woods and down onto the Ridgeway footpath.  Virtually all traffic free on tracks, paths and along the side of a golf course all makes it scenic and very pleasant.

The start!

There were apparently 500+ runners all lined up in the ordinarily and  quiet cul-de-sac on the edge of Tring, a well-to-do little town.  I think I was in the middle of the field when we started to shuffle forward as none of us actually heard the starting gun.  The first mile or so is on a straight lane, wide enough for 2 or 3 runners to run side-by-side and it was then I realised I was surrounded by the heavy breathers.  They really were heavy breathers, some gasping and struggling a bit as we all got warmed up.  Gradually the field thinned a little and dog walkers stood patiently as we all went by, occasionally someone would say something by way of a "thank you".

Single file

It was on this straight lane that the fast runners will have got away and made the most of a potential PB segment but alas I was still in the main pack.  Once on the other side of a main road the climbing started and this is where things ground to a halt somewhat.  There was a single-file stretch and naturally that slowed things down before an uphill climb.  At one point we were at a stand-still and I impatiently thought "man this is a race, the clock is ticking.... stop dawdling and get going!".  Again heavy breathers were making themselves heard and they were all men as far as I could tell.  As we gradient started to climb I easily overtook a few where I could.  Likewise I got overtaken by a couple of women who were seriously faster than me!

Ashridge and the Bridgewater monument

At the top of the climb came the first water station and then a fast woodland track heading away from the Bridgewater Monument, a place I know well.   At that point we thinned out even more but I was never far from any of the other runners.

I remember there was one runner giving us all a motivational and well meaning commentary... "Wow we're doing a such-and-such pace now, not bad, keep this up and we'll get a X finish time..... I'm gonna put the hammer down in the last few miles.... thank you marshall.... you're awesome..... we doing great, this is a great run....."

The half way point came, I looked at my watch and realised I was running a slow time.  I also realised how wonderful the scenery was and it was looking wonderful with autumn colours coming on nicely through the woodland areas.  There was then a downhill stretch where I picked up the speed a bit but real care is needed not to trip and go flying.  I latched onto one of the women that had previously overtaken me as she was clearly a good pace maker with a good running form.  I was able to keep her in sight for quite a long time until she overtook a slower runner and I was effectively blocked behind for about 5 minutes, waiting to overtake through another woodland part where it cold only be single file.

The final stretch!

Back onto the straight lane, heading south east and back to Tring.  This was the place to pick up some speed.  I remembered the first time I ran this race and foolishly thought the end was in the same place as the start.  On that occasion I put "my all" into sprinting to the finish, only to realise it was a further half mile!  I can tell you that was embarrassing as everyone I'd over taken, then overtook me.

So I didn't make the same mistake again.  I came in 5 minutes slower than I did in 2011 when I last ran this race.  I was just in the top half and felt frustrated because I know I could do much better (and already looking forward to next year!).

I think I am paying the price for not running much earlier on this year (because of cycling).  While I was running this race my legs felt very tired every now and again but I was never out of breath.  This tells me my cardiovascular performance is pretty good but my "running legs" need some more training - some interval / Fartlek training wouldn't do me any harm.  Plus my weight is creeping up towards 11 stone and this is freaky stuff!  I feel heavy and I don't like it.


After the race I found myself talking to a fellow runner, Roger (pictured below).  I think I remember Roger from a previous race when he was my pace setter and we over took each other a few times, a kind of cat-and-mouse affair before he finally beat me.  This time I beat Roger, but only just.  He was such an easy man to talk to, natural in his conversation, well spoken, unassuming but remarkable as a 70 year old.

I recall saying that I'd be pretty pleased if I had his fitness when I'm 70 years old.  That will be cool.  Being that fit then depends on a number of things, mostly in my control and this is of course about maintaining that level of fitness now.  Avoiding illness and injury is important too.  For any of us, what we do in our younger years will have a bearing on our health later on: some things are "repairable" but other things aren't fixed so easily.  Either way I am planning to be as healthy as I can now I am in the second half of my life.

And thanks to....

Tring Running Club - I enjoyed this race once again.  I like the organisation which is great, the route through beautiful scenery, the atmosphere, because it is good value and because  it is not a huge scale commercially orientated race.

My thanks go to all of the volunteers carrying out all kinds of different roles (marshals, first aiders etc).

Here's the website for Tring Running Club - click here

And here are a few other random shots at the start and finish:

Ridgeway Run 2010
Ridgeway Run 2011
Healthy living and old age
Running in old age

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