One runner shares her review of the Harewood House Half Marathon, a British Heart Foundation event (you can also do a 10K or 2K fun run). Katrina Carter has been running on and off as long as she can remember, but this was her first trail run!
[This race] marked a new first in my running journey – I took part in my first trail run! Typical of my style, I jumped in at the deep end and opted for the half-marathon route rather than the 10K. There seems to be something in me that cannot say no to a challenge, even if I know it’s going to cause me pain. And pain this did indeed cause.
It started off like any other race day: usual incessant need for the toilet every few minutes while trying to get my running gear on; and simultaneously cram some cereal down my neck only to be met with more of the worrying tummy gurgles of pre-race nerves. So far, so normal.
I ran this race with my brother, as always, but we soon noticed as we were waiting for the race to start on the beautiful estate of Harewood House that we looked to be the only average Joes – everybody else looked like professional athletes. Now this is worrying, I mean, nobody wants to be the last one over the finish line, do they? Oh dear!
It was a freezing cold morning; so cold that we actually hid in a portaloo just to get out of the wind. Yep, you read that right – I’m a 32-year-old grown woman and I waited in the portaloo. And when you’re in Rome… if you know what I mean! Finally, the race started.
By mile three I was getting increasingly worried that I might actually have frostbite in my poor fingers. I was wearing running gloves, but I still couldn’t use/feel my fingers. I had to run with my fingers intertwined. I’m too old for this running in the cold business. It was not my usual type of running. I can handle hills; it’s just the gnarly terrain that threw me. It started off rock hard and unforgiving, then gradually turned to slippy, skiddy muddy mounds and thick gloopy sticky puddles as the sun warmed the earth a touch. I’m really not sure what was worse! Never gonna be easy to run 13.1 miles though, is it? (Not for me anyway!)
Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t all bad. There were some parts that I absolutely loved. It’s so freeing to be out in the pretty English countryside running solo (my brother and I parted ways quite early on), with the sun shining down on you and just having time alone with your own thoughts, and the amazing sights to be seen that you don’t normally get while road running too. I saw a herd of deer just sat chilling out in the woods watching the world and us humans running by, and a baby deer sprinting along a field. Stunning!
The last five miles were tough though; hill after hill after relentless bloody hill, and all on uneven ground that was just trying to break my ankle at any given time. It was a bit scary and I was getting tired, there was also a weird pain creeping in. The pain was on my right thigh and shooting up my arse cheek – what the hell is that? The dreaded shin splints were starting to try and make an appearance, and I had been dying for a piss since mile four.
The race needed to come to an end and fast, because – I’ll let you into a couple of little secrets – I hadn’t done nowhere near enough training (my last long run of 6 miles+ was five months ago) and also that wee that I needed was starting to make an appearance. My word, things had taken a grim turn!
No PB for me, but then that was to be expected. But it was a bloody good run, so much fun and such a nice day. Trail running may not be my thing, but I think I might be tempted to dabble in it again. But I did finish it! My time: 02:39:18.