For our wedding anniversary in July, Paul bought us a running analysis session and entry into the Marlow 7 (for me) and the Marlow half marathon (for him – see, he does love me really!). I know some people find that an odd present, but it was a lovely idea, a chance for us to get our running styles analysed and then the opportunity to work on what we’ve learned for a race. I haven’t done a lot of racing this year for one reason or another, so it was nice to have something to work towards over the last few months.
Then I looked at the course profile. Ouch! Hills aren’t my favourite and as most of my running is done along the Thames towpath, I haven’t done all that much hill training lately. Still, I’m game for
pain a laugh, so off we trotted into the fog on Sunday morning.
The start was slightly unusual in that the race village was a five minute walk from the start. The race briefing took place at the village, then everyone lined up and walked together to the start line. At least that was the idea. I was in a massive queue for the ladies and ended up with more of a warm up than I’d bargained for with a swift jog to join the pack, just in time for the rocket that signalled the start.
The first mile or so was more or less all up hill, firstly a gentle incline through the town centre, then up a steeper hill into the country. I found this ok, and even managed to overtake a few people. The second hill was not far after the first, and this was considerably steeper. I decided that this wasn’t a race for a time, so I walked the steepest parts (along with more or less everyone else). Shortly afterwards, at 2.5 miles, the 7 mile race peeled off from the half marathon, and the packed thinned out considerably. The next mile was fairly undulating. I don’t find running downhill particularly easy – I felt a bit like I was leaning backwards but trying to gain some time back too!
Before I knew it, a marshal was telling us that we were at the final hill, which was just after mile 4. This part of the course was lovely – through woodland that was eerily quiet in the morning mist, with just the pattering of feet and water dripping off the trees.
The course levelled out at this point, before the final descent back to the town. This part was particularly steep downhill and my knees started to twinge a little, but we were soon at the bottom and running to the finish. I had a little left for a sprint finish and crossed the line in 1.03.37. That was an overall pace of 8.59 mins/mile which I was really pleased with – that’s a little faster than my recent pace and given I walked some of the hill sections, it meant I’d kept up a decent pace on the other sections.
This is definitely a course I’d do again, it was very well organised (although a few more loos wouldn’t go amiss), the marshalling was great and the course was beautiful. Not sure I’d go for the half marathon (even more hills!) but the seven mile has a lot to recommend it!