We're on holiday, so of course we're going to be running a 10 mile race on the 2nd day of it!
That's one of the lovely things about low-key local running races is that you can turn up and enter on the day and it'll be lovely and everyone will be lovely. And we did, and it was, and they were.
The Cumberland Ale 10 is a 10 mile foot race that starts at the Jennings Brewery in Cockermouth, Cumbria. It's not flat, but it's a cracking course. The route is a lollipop with a water station at the top of the stick (in both directions) and there's about 250m of elevation gain over the route with a couple of appreciable hills - one after you go through the water station for the second time where I finally gave in and walked, and just where the official photographer is lying in wait. Yay!
I put in some effort for this race. Starting off at a reasonable pace for the first mile (which was all uphill with a gentle climb out of the town), I turned it up a bit after that. This race was all about having some fun with no targets, no pressure, no goals other than to enjoy it. And enjoy it I did.
The other thing about local races is that the field is very different from larger, mass participation events. You find that most of the runners are part of local running clubs and the finishing time distribution is very compressed compared with those mass participation events. Having started out right at the back, and put in quite some effort all the way through (max HR 201! Downhill!), I only managed to overtake 8 people over the course. Coming in 19th lady out of 25 (and 55th of 64 runners overall) is a bit demoralising given the effort, but... (context is everything).
I spent 6 miles of the race trying to reel in a local runner. She'd pull away a bit on the uphills and a tiny bit on the "flat" bits and I'd pull her in on the downhills that were steeper than totally trivial. Overall I just couldn't quite manage it in the end, but she kept me honest and kept me from chickening out and taking it easy (apart from that one uphill...).
I can certainly say I put in a pretty even effort throughout, and high even for me. It's encouraging in that respect that I'm remembering how to hurt again, in terms of putting in the effort rather than actually being quick at all. I've never been a quick runner really and with vanishingly small exposure to hills beyond pimple-like undulations, it's only to be expected that on this course I wouldn't do anywhere near as well as the locals. I am pretty pleased that I ran all the hills bar one and that my effort and pace was pretty even. OK, so it was only 10 miles, but it was an honest, fun 10 miles.
The spread of food afterwards was amazing! And a bottle of beer as a finishing token - never mind your t-shirts and medals; beer is where it's at!