Sometimes I think; “I really should read the race profile before I hit the start line”. But then again, it does add to my childlike excitement when every turn of the race is an unknown challenge.
King Of The Mountain in Panmure is a great race and I thoroughly enjoyed being able to push myself- not quite without restraint- at this friendly and eclectic course. Race start was 8 am and I turned up early to meet great people who give up their Sunday morning to promote our mutual love of the sport and physical well-being. My friend Jake from the Chiropractic Centre made me feel quite proud to be at the start line as he reminded me of the broken state my body was in a few months before when I went to see him for professional help. I stood in the line of the rising sun and waited for the incessant noise of beeping watches to begin. This is what I live for…..
I’m not good at pacing myself through half marathons. Knowing my strength lies in longer distance, anything that resembles speed work is a different challenge- and one my legs often begin an anarchic strike against. But I still love it. I set off at 6.20 minute/mile (I’m English sorry) and felt comfortable with the sun on my face and only three men in front of me. What I didn’t expect was the grass bog (my beloved Hoka Clifton’s held up despite being so worn down from overuse), the slippery walkways (not the best for someone as accident prone as me), the twists and turns (following the red cones should be easy but I lose all sense of intellect when I begin to sweat) and the dreaded sand (I really did not sign up for that nonsense). And I loved it. About two miles in I was overtaken by a bloke with a cap on backwards and an enviable bounce to his stride; I chased him down for the next 9 mile.
I loved the feeling of my lungs starting to burn a little- a feeling I’ve not had for 5 months- and although I had to reign myself in, unsure of how much my injured back and knee could handle, it was great to feel my body coping under pressure again. I kept Mr. Bounce in my vision and pushed on towards Maungarei, loving the fact that the volcano would mean I can catch some people. And I did. I overtook two men (Mr Bounce) going up the hill and shouted at my friend Julian (a top class runner who unfortunately for him went the wrong way and lost a few minutes) who was WALKING up the hill (he quickly sprinted off then) and gritted my teeth to get my painful knee down the hill. The race had to be altered earlier on in the morning because bad weather the previous day had made sections of the course far too boggy. So when my watch bleeped at 13 mile but I knew I had a bit to go yet. I was loving the speed and pushing and just enjoyed the moments as I turned the corner to the finish line. First lady, third overall.
A great stretch was provided afterwards by the local college for Personal Training and I felt satisfied. My smile well and truly back.
You can keep up to date with Claire Walton's latest news and updates via her website Clairly Running
We chatted to Caitlin about how they make their relationship work around their heavy training loads and transient race schedules.