It was an awesome Easter weekend. The long weekend began on Thursday with some drinks with some fabulous people. We all met through ukrunchat and we had a super evening catching up and having lots of laughs.
On Friday I was surprisingly full of beans after the wine drank the night before so I went for a 4 mile easy run in sunny London and then got my stuff packed for the weekend away.
On Saturday I travelled up to Sowerby Bridge (near Halifax…I had to google it). I got settled into the airbnb and then went for dinner with the Davids (@jedi58 & @Davidnflf1) & Sam (@samabaxter). We went to the Mongolian restaurant ran by the guy who owned the house I was staying in. It was a great meal with great company. I had felt like staying in with a bowl of pasta in front of the tv but there was no TV in the airbnb so I went out- I’m glad I did as I probably would have been feeling more nervous on my own, plus I ended up having a lovely evening with the guys. We all wanted an early night due to the clocks going forward so we arranged to meet in the morning and went to get ready for the big day ahead of us.
I didn’t sleep very well but actually felt ok getting up and having breakfast early. I was feeling a little nervous and excited. I was a bit manic when I met the guys at 6.45am to walk down to the leisure centre to register & get the bus to Manchester put on by the race organisers. We were given our race numbers in a bag with our tshirts & medal! I definitely think they should have been given to us after. Plus none of us had a bag to leave at bag drop so we had nowhere to put them. We actually left them in the changing room at the leisure centre to pick up after.
The bus journey to Manchester was great. I got chatting to some girls and we chatted for the whole journey. It was a great start to the day having a laugh on the bus, as had it been quiet & I’d been left to my own thoughts I would have just felt nervous for the whole journey.
We got off the bus in Manchester & joined the long toilet queue. Once we got through the queue it wasn’t long before we started.
The ukrunchat team ready to go: (sorry to those that we couldn’t find for the pre-race pic)
I felt pretty laid back at the start. The day had flowed nicely so I was ready to get started and enjoy the day. It had been tricky deciding what to wear as it was supposed to be heavy rain & be really windy. I opted for my purple ukrunchat tshirt with sleeves, leggings, my GoBrutal bobble hat and my rain jacket. It was pretty cold before we started so I kept my jacket on. I think we’d only been running 2 miles or so when I stopped to lose the jacket as I’d quickly warmed up.
I had no race strategy…I never do…except run how I feel on the day. I didn’t check my pace or the time once in the race- I only glanced at my watch to see what distance we were at occasionally.
Earlier in the week the top of my left foot had been sore- I’ve felt it before but I’ve never felt it when running, until today – from mile 6 it started to feel sore. I had left my laces pretty loose so I waited till the 1st aid station and then did my laces up a bit tighter. It was a nice atmosphere at the aid atation, everyone chatting & checking up on each other. After a couple of cups of coke I carried on.
The route was beautiful. Running along the canal was great. The cobbles were making my foot sore but I had settled into my own happy pace and was ignoring my foot as much as I could. I figured if it got worse I’d take some ibuprofen. The 2nd check point was at mile 20 and we ran on road for a few miles after that due to flooding by the canal at the end of last year. It was here I realised my foot had stopped hurting which was a relief.
The 100k runners had started at 7am at Sowerby Bridge to run to Manchester & back again. I was at mile 8 when the 1st guy passed us running the opposite way- he was speeding along, soon to be followed by the 2nd guy. There was quite a gap before we saw the rest of the 100k runners. It was a lovely atmosphere, everyone saying well done as we ran past each other (The 1st 100k runner finished in 7:47:59 – Craig Holgate.)
I chatted to quite a few people. There were a few of us who saw each other quite a lot as we took it turns overtaking each other. Everyone was lovely, we made sure we were all ok and gave reassuring words for those finding it difficult.
We were so lucky with the weather. I got rained on a few times but didn’t put my rain jacket on as it would have been too warm. I was quite happy running in the rain, but even happier when the sun came out.
I felt pretty strong for the whole race. After the last 2 aid station stops was the only time I really felt my legs hurting and it was a bit hard to get running again but it only took me minute or so & once I was running again I felt great. The only thing I knew about my time was that a guy at mile 20 had said we were on for for a sub-6 hour finish. This made me pretty happy. I know ultras aren’t about time but it had occurred to me that if I did over 7 hours it would knock my confidence for Race to the Stones in July.
After the last check point we had 5 miles to go. I was excited to get to the end so had to restrict looking at my watch as it makes the miles tick over more slowly. There were a couple of miles that felt quite long but the last one went quite fast. Suddenly there was the finish line and a crowd of people cheering. I was delighted to finish in 5:45:53.
Once I finished my legs felt pretty stiff. I stuck around for a bit to cheer on other runners and have a bit of a stretch and a drink before I headed back to the leisure centre to get my medal & tshirt. I walked up the road to where I was staying and felt pretty cold, and there was a bit of a hail storm. I was glad I finished before that. I got back & had nice hot bath (well-nice apart from discovering some chaffing as I got in the bath-Ouch!).
David (nflf), Sam & I met for some much needed food. We went to Cobblestones for an amazing roast dinner. It was a dream. We’d all been chatting away but as the meal went on all of our energy levels dropped as the food coma started to set in. It was a massive meal that left me defeated and I couldn’t quite finish it.
The next day my legs were a bit stiff & felt a little sore going down stairs but I was quite happy as was expecting more soreness. I travelled back to London wearing my Canalathon t-shirt proudly.
I am really happy with that 50k- I really enjoyed it. After a bit of a disaster marathon that knocked my confidence a few weeks before it was great to have done Canalathon. I felt strong all the way & didn’t feel like I struggled at all. Bring on the next race!
These race weekends would be pretty dull without the ukrunchat crowd to see- always new people to meet & friends to catch up with. It was a great weekend.
I’d recommend Canalathon. It’s really well organised with a nice friendly relaxed feel. The only note I would give is that tshirts & medals are better to have at the end. Would I do it again? Probably not- only because it’s so far and I have so many races I want to do – lots of new places to visit & explore (although I’d probably be easily talked into it again lol).
Next for me is Brighton Marathon. I’m feeling quite laid back about it. I don’t expect a PB but it will be a really fun weekend with a massive #ukrunchat crowd.