Trials And Tribulations Of A Long Distance Runner

What lengths would you go to to get yourself to and from a race? Today has felt like a scene straight out of Planes, Trains and Automobiles. I had been online and checked my travel plans. Now, in a perfect world i could have got the train to Harlow Mill and then cycled the 3 miles to the race. As per usual being a Sunday there were engineering works on the railway so a bus replacement service was in place, awkward for the bike. No bother i’ll get the bus to Harlow Mill then jog the 3 miles to the start, it’ll be a good warm up. So i looked on google maps to check the quickest and safest way of jogging there. All my kit was ready and i went through the usual pre race rituals of porridge and honey for breakfast and a good stretch. Waiting for the bus and the first sign of things to come was the bus was late. Mild concern washed over me thinking it wasn’t going to arrive but fortunately a few minutes later it arrived. Continuing merrily along we the left Bishops Stortford and the driver decided to drive down a one way road the wrong way! Cars were tooting and swerving out of the way, great that’s all i need to be involved in a bus crash. We made our way out of the road without incident and after another 15 minutes or so arrived at Harlow Mill. Now to follow my rough map i had drawn out, a gentle jog and i should be there in good time. A short way down the road and i got the feeling google maps isn’t all that up to date as what should have been a cricket pitch appeared to look far more like new Flats and houses. Don’t panic just follow around the outside of the buildings until you get back on track. Further along i came to a bridleway that was going in the right direction, phew! another 20 minutes or so and i should be there. Except i was now lost in an estate that the bridleway cut through. A bit of common sense, ask someone. Pointed back in the general direction i should be going i came to the common i had to cross. What is marked on the map as a common i would have been more inclined to describe as a swamp! Can this get any worse today! with shoes filling up with water and mud i really wasn’t happy. i eventually made my way of the common back on to a road, another mile or so and should be there at last. Sure enough down a country lane, up a hill and i had made it to the start with some time to spare. What a start to the day! With the bag safely stored i met up with the other club members as we all prepared for the start. With the more than adequate warm up and not being in the best of moods i was determined to get it out of my system by having a good run. We were off! i got off to a cracking start and felt good. Once people had spread out i checked my watch, i was running at 6 minute 30 second miles, well inside my PB. At 4km i was with one of our clubs best female runners Fiona Halls and was thinking “either she is having a bad day or i’m going quite fast!”. I made sure i didn’t ease up and kept pushing the pace and my comfort levels. Eventually my pace did start to drop but as long as i stayed inside 7 minutes 30 seconds per mile i would be on for a PB. At kilometer 6 i really started to feel tired and all i was thinking about was getting on to 8km which was slightly more down hill. The 8km mark came around and i used the down hill to relax a little and try and let my legs flow a little more, i was really starting to feel it now. One of our other Female runners cam up along side and gave me some encouragement which was really welcome. Then shortly after that another competitor ran up beside me and asked what time i was trying to achieve, so i told him sub 45 minutes. He then went ahead of me but was really helpful that he kept shouting me on and telling me not to give up. The last kilometer was absolute agony and i was really spent and didn’t have any energy for a final sprint that i would usually manage. I crossed the line in 43 minutes and 27 seconds knocking 1 minute and 33 seconds of my 10k PB. I was so pleased i had really pushed myself and i knew i couldn’t have given any more on the day. After collecting my finishers medal, getting my bag and catching up with the other Saffron Striders i now had to make my way back to Harlow Mill to get the dreaded bus. So i set off on a gentle jog knowing what time the bus was due, 3 miles later i had made it back with 6 minutes to spare. The time for the bus came and went. It was now 10 minutes late, something wasn’t right. i turned my phone on and checked up on the travel detail. The trains were now running and i was standing waiting for a bus that was never going to turn up! The train had long gone and i was faced with having to wait almost an hour for the following train. I checked the bus timetable and there was a local Sunday service running. So i ended up getting on the local bus back to Bishops Stortford making it just in time for a train to Audley End which is 2 miles from home. At least if i got back there if my wife was in i could get a lift if not another 2 mile walk to ad to the 12 miles of running i had clocked up today! Fortunately for me my wife was at home and came out to pick me up. What a day! So what would you do to get to or from race day?

st claire


Having to leave soon after the finish i didn’t wait around for the results. At tonight’s club meeting i found out i helped contribute towards winning the men’s team trophy. My first trophy since taking up running seriously in March 2012. For everyone that reads my blog and has aspirations to better themselves…proof that hard work pays off!


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