I thank God that I am back into running properly now, following my posterior tibial tendonitis. I used three races to build up my confidence again in my body’s ability to be able to cope with speed and distance after recovering from the injury, and to get back my mojo again. So I signed up for three different distances: a 5k, 10k and a half marathon. Below is a short summary and my verdict.
Stockley Park 10k
This race is organised by Purple Patch each May – having done a few of their races already (such as the Up Tow – Down Flow and Burnham Beeches Half Marathons), I was fairly confident I was in for a good race!
This race is a fairly small affair – given it’s closeness to the Milton Keynes Marathon & Half Marathon, the numbers are naturally on the lower end of the scale, however it is not necessarily a bad thing – no overcrowding and stepping on toes, all of this coupled with seamless organising and a great venue. Stockley Park is a hidden gemstone near Uxbridge, a business park surrounded by a beautiful parkland, running/walking trails, wildflower meadows, orchards and a large golf course. I am so jealous of those people who work in this business park!
I bagged a sub 50 minute time on this mostly flat course, which was exactly what I had come for – a realistic yet challenging target after my long hiatus in the winter.
Obstacle Colour Rush 5k
This is an international series of 5k fun runs, being hosted at various different locations in and also outside the UK. The event combines color powder being thrown at you whilst you are running and a variety of giant inflatable obstacles along the way. I persuaded my Hubby Simon to do this run with me at Villen Lake in Milton Keynes, as this definitely looked like something you would want to do as a couple or in groups.
The day was really cloudy and grim however this did not stop us from turning up. We all began with a fun Zumba style-warm up and then began running in waves to avoid overcrowding. Given that Simon and I were in one of the earlier waves, there was not a huge number of people – on the plus side, this meant we did not have to wait around and queue, however on the other hand, it was a bit awkward running almost on our own without any other runners else in sight during the entire race! The obstacles were quite cool but I wish there had been more of them to add a bit more variety – most of the stations were colour stations, where the helpers threw paint at you but I feel that this could have been done in addition to the obstacles, not instead of.
Messy and proud!
On the whole, I would say that it was an ”OK” experience, it was fun to get messy and do something together with the Hubby, however, the pictures on the organisers’ website paint a much rosier picture of the event than it actually is. A bit more sunshine on the day would have definitely helped, however ultimately, for the price we paid, I would have expected a bit more challenge and variety. As my Hubby said this a ”running event for those who do not run”.
Stowe Half Marathon
Phew, it looks like I have managed to pick the hilliest and bitchiest half marathon within my reach! The main event was a triathlon and there was the run only option (5k, 10k or half marathon) for those of us who did not want to go for the ‘full monty’. For this reason, there was a very broad range of participants, from giggling groups of girls wearing their pink tutu skirts to hard core ironman-bred triathletes looking extremely focussed.
The Temple of Venus temporarily transformed into the race HQ
The race HQ was buzzing with swimmers in their tight black wetsuits and bikers changing in the depot when I arrived. The run did not begin until nearly midday, by which time I had consumed two breakfasts to keep myself going. It happened to be the perfect weather for running – mostly cloudy and drizzly, a bit of wind and occasional sunny spells. Anything more and the race could have turned into a ‘survival of the fittest’ event (similar to the Burnham Beeches half marathon I did some time ago). The course was designed in a way that those of us who signed up for the half marathon distance had to do 4 laps of the same route, so roughly 5k each lap.
I would like to emphasize ‘roughly’ bcos my watch measured over 23km’s instead of 21km, which is quite a significant difference, especially on such a challenging course!
After 5km, I was like ‘WTF?!’
After the second lap I was like ‘no more’
After the third lap ‘I might die here’
During the fourth lap ‘I have not died yet – I am just too tough to kill!
The beautiful sights along the way somewhat took my mind off the pain
That was a nice downhill bit!
There was a lady in a purple running club vest who I latched myself onto during the first lap (hopefully she did not feel being stalked too much…), and eventually managed to overtake near the finish. Thank you purple lady, I managed to pull through and survive.
Having just looked at the race results, I finished somewhere in the middle of the pack and the first person to finish the half had a slower finishing time than my humble half marathon best, which shows how difficult this course was.
There was still some energy left in my tank for a finish line sprint! – This is my ever favourite race picture 🙂
I am glad though that I have done this race, I have achieved my purpose which was to finish it and use it as a confidence builder for doing some more serious prep for the autumn race season. In retrospect, I think it was for the best that it was not a fast PB potential course, because this way I did not have to worry too much about my finishing time but focus on getting through instead, and practice mental strategies when facing the worst segments. The venue is beautiful and it is worth bringing someone with you because your ”plus one” gets a free entry onto the site without having to pay the usual National Trust entry fee.