Bath Half Marathon – trails edition
In the past month I’ve been keeping busy racing at some more of Relish Running’s events, the Bath Roman 10k and the Bath Trail Half Marathon at Bath Running Festival. I also finished my second Tough Mudder, including ‘Everest’!
Bath Running – Roman 10k
This event starts from Bath Racecourse, which is north of the city and not too far off the M4. What I have loved about Relish’s races so far is the friendly relaxed atmosphere. It is so different from the vibe at the big city events I’ve attended (Bristol 10k and Half, London British 10k), and while both types of events have their advantages, I much prefer a low-key vibe and not having to stress that there will be a huge queue for the toilets or having to go on a mission to get to the race start line.
There were about 250 people racing at the Roman 10k and we had a nice warm (but not hot) day with a breeze. As usual, Relish post detailed course descriptions and maps on their websites so I won’t repeat the details, but needless to say, like all the races so far, the Roman 10k is a hilly event, but definitely manageable if it is your first trail 10k.
There are a lot of gates and stiles on this one. Obviously most people don’t race these events trying to get a PB, but it’s worth knowing. Personally I love this, as I find I get to enjoy the running and perhaps a little of healthy competition chasing other people down without worrying about time stats.
I’m definitely still relatively faster over 10ks compared to my half time, especially when on trails. I was quite pleased with my performance on the Roman 10k but clearly need to keep working on up-hills, as I seemed to get overtaken when going up, whereas I can hold my ground and make up time on the flats and down-hills in particular.
As always, Relish put on great food and drink options on this race (and the Running Festival, below), and the medals are by FAR the best medals around, personalised with a relief of the local area.
Bath Running Festival
This event is hosted at Bath University’s impressive sports training village. I couldn’t help but wonder if I had gone to Bath University with that sports village, that perhaps it wouldn’t have taken me until the age of 29 to find that I quite enjoy sports!
The festival includes a 5k, 10k, half marathon and full marathon. I ran the half (which is actually a ‘Very Long Half’ at c.26km long). The course had 750m of ascent in total. I was not expecting it to be as hard as it was – in fact, after the Cheddar Gorge half that I ran several weeks ago, I was expecting this to be relatively easy… when in reality, this Bath Very Long Half has taken my course-record for being the ‘TOUGHEST THING I HAVE EVER DONE!’.
I wasn’t helped by virtually all the runners going the wrong way down the side of a steep hill 3km. I was a bit miffed as I had been doing really well flying down the technical terrain through woods, overtaking a load of people, only to hear someone further ahead shout ‘wrong way’ and for then us all have to hike back up to the top to recover the route. Obviously this was the same problem for a lot of people, but what it meant for me is that my legs were unnecessarily tired really early on into the run, and when my legs are tired, I start to get ITB pain, which this time kicked in at around 10k.
Still, the good thing about this (good?) is that at least I know ITB pain is pretty much temporary and I can recover within a few days. I think it also made me focus much more on form for the remaining 16km, as if I try really hard, and land flat, I can stop it hurting on SOME footsteps. By the 10km mark the pack had settled and despite the detour I expect everyone had ended up back in their ‘place’ in the running pack, and I found myself running with the same people. We had a pattern going, I overtook on the downhills, they overtook on the climbs, and sometimes we met and ran together on the flat sections, like the out-and-back flat canal path section to/from Bathampton.
I had originally signed up for the marathon, which is almost two laps of the half. I’m very pleased I stuck with the 26k course as I could not have faced going around again, especially with a sore knee. Perhaps if I hadn’t had the injury I could have done it, but it would have been very slow. I will do a trail marathon soon, but it doesn’t make sense to me to force it and risk more serious injury when I could just wait a few months and get some more training in to do it properly and hopefully faster and with less pain!
Well my time for the 26-27k route was 3h20. I put about 20 mins down to limping, but regardless, 3hrs is still pretty uninspiring so I will try harder in hill-training and work on leg strength with more squats and lunges etc so the ITB issue goes away. I know I can do this! I’ve overcome shin splints and some ridiculously big nasty blisters from a poor gait in the past so I won’t let weak glutes get in the way of trail running further and faster in the future.