Way back in May after completing my first 10km race my friend Tim’s (who’d done the race hungover and finished half an hour before me, not jealous at all!) Dad, Paul, messaged us both on Facebook about a trail run happening in August. The Elenden Farm Frolic, due to the word ‘frolic’ I went along with it because how can anything with the word ‘frolic’ in it ever be bad? Plus I was riding that 10k high.
Well, August rolled around and it was like “oh yeah we’re doing that run”, I was actually really looking forward to it because i’ve got a few half marathons coming up and still hadn’t managed to go over the 10k mark in training so thought i’d be able to push myself. The way the run was set up was that when you register you sign up for either 3 or 6 hours and see how many loops of the (frankly stunning) course you can do within that time. Myself and Tim signed up for the 3 hours having never done trail running before and Paul signed up for the 6 hours as he’s pretty much super human and does crazy ultra marathons and 24 hour runs. At the time I joked with Tim that he had the advantage because it was obviously in his genes. Little did I know!
So the night before I did my usual running rituals of a hydration drink, laying out my gear in a ‘flat Joey’. I then continued to freak out for about two hours about whether to wear shorts for the first time or not. In the end I realised it was due to be so hot the following day it’d be stupid not to.
The morning of the run we set off at 7:30 after having our oats and made our way into the English countryside, Tim in his welsh football top and me in my TFTR? top. I don’t think these trail runners knew what was coming. We turned up at Elenden Farm and were one of the first groups there. One thing I have to say is this was certainly one of the friendliest runs i’ve ever taken part in. So we went and registered, got our numbers, shoe chips and free Cotswold Running bit of kit, me a tech vest, Tim a tech t-shirt and we awaited the arrival of Tim’s parents while struggling with attaching shoe chips for the first time. Tim’s parents arrived and I started to get really excited, I’ve always looked up to Paul as a runner so was looking forward to taking part in the same run as him. Obviously we took the obligatory ‘before run’ shots.
You may notice all our race numbers are pretty low. That’s because there was only 36 people running! Seeing as the smallest run i’ve ever done is Parkrun and our local one regularly hits over 400 people I was in for a bit of a shock.
We made our way up to the start where family and friends were setting up deck chairs, gazebos and picnic blankets – believe me it was an amazing atmosphere. We had our safety briefing off one of the friendliest guys in the world and like that we were off.
Had I mentioned I’d never previously tried trail running? Well a piece of advice, if you’re going to do a 3 hour trail run, try running across a field first at least. I managed to run the flat and downhill parts of the first lap and came across the checkpoint in a respectable (for me) 45 minutes(ish), during the second lap I was walking more and more. It was getting really hot. Another major difference in this run was that it started at 11 so by the time I was on my second lap the midday sun was beating down on my soon to be burnt shoulders. I’d been smart though and had laden my hubby with a cool bag of water bottles and jelly babies to grab as I crossed the checkpoint. My aim was 3 times round but in my head I really wanted 4. During my 3rd lap I really struggled, I was slightly light headed and couldn’t concentrate on the uneven terrain.
Despite that I was actually really enjoying it and as I came up to the checkpoint I could smell the BBQ (told you it was a good event!) and just smiled to myself. I’d gone over 10k and therefore gone further than i’d ever gone before. On trail. In ridiculous heat. But I still wanted another lap. My body said no but my stubborn head said yes so I set off again, just one more lap I told myself. After rounding the first corner that i’d run the previous three times and not being able to on the fourth my head caught up with my body. I’d started new medication that week, I was dizzy and running further away from the checkpoint. There are sometimes when you’ve got to be brave enough to carry on and there’s sometimes you’ve got to be brave enough to realise you’re being too stubborn so I turned around and made my way back up the hill, collapsing into a camp chair. I’d reached my goal. 3 laps. Next year i’m aiming for 5.
After some full fat coke and sips of water one of the lovely race organisers came over and snipped off my shoe chip and gave me my medal. About 10 minutes later Tim came in after 5 laps and a while after that Paul joined us after 7 or 8.
All in all I really enjoyed my first trail run, i’d gone over what i’d ever done before and knew I’d really pushed myself to my own personal limit. It’s really funny actually because the night before I couldn’t sleep so I finished reading Chrissie Wellington’s book and this quote is at the top of one of the last chapters. Little did I know how many times it would run through my head the following day.
So what next? Well all road races! Half marathons and full on training for the Paris marathon in April and in between that i’ve set up my own Run Club in Newport to get more women running (but that’s a whole other blog). I really hope to do more trail running and especially more against the clock stuff as I found that side of it really fun. The medal was really cool too!
How ironic that I had to leave Wales to get a sheep medal?!