Yesterday I ran in the Beachy Head 10k – the first year a 10k has been added to the Beachy Head marathon day. I decided it would be a good taster of what the marathon would be like and an ‘easier’ introduction to what looked to be extremely challenging terrain.
I knew there was going to be a massive hill (450 feet; 140m) at the start, but when we arrived and saw the hill – nothing could have prepared me for that! You see, when a lot of people say ‘hilly’ (those from Chamonix or the Lake District excluded) they really mean undulating! I love an undulating course, but this was something else! The race started at 9.30am – I wished Rich good luck and I tippy toed up the hill, which was quite slippery after the marathon runners who set off earlier had created a muddy path! It was so steep in fact it was impossible to go above 12 min/mile, I was breathing ridiculously heavily and by the time I got to the brow of the hill I was done, finished, kaput! My legs had turned to jelly and I lost any kind of pace. In fact, I did the first kilometre in a paltry 9 minutes!
After a relatively flat section between 2 and 5k though, I was able to regain the feeling in my legs and completed the first 5k in 30 minutes. However, there were cross and head winds of 40 k/h, which were so strong they made my cheeks flap around like spaniel’s ears! Then came the second hill – not as steep, but just as much of an elevation gain. I was more in my comfort zone here as steady inclines are more something I can cope with. By this point we had turned back from the lighthouse near Birling Gap and started to head back towards the finish at the foot of the very same hill we started from. A tail wind pushed us up the hill and was so strong I swear I could have leant back and it would have held me up right!
This section was so exposed that the sun was burning into my face and I was so hot that I really regretted wearing my long-sleeved top!
The home straight (8 to 10k) was thankfully flat and downhill – I cautiously headed down the giant hill, which, by this point, was quite treacherous.
I saw my dad in the crowd and heard someone shout out my name – to my astonishment it was Rich who had beat me by over 2 minutes, when I normally beat him on the flat! What a legend!
I was pleased to finish dead on 1h, but, even though the course was utterly beautiful, I found the whole thing so tough and I was so far out of my comfort zone, it wasn’t as enjoyable as it should have been. In fact, I found the race quite painful at times and I can’t tell you how many times I heard myself say “whose idea was this?’, “why am I here”, “someone please make it stop!”.
Things I learned about myself during this race:
– I suck at running up hills (strike that, mountains!), but rather than avoiding them I need to look at why I can run a sub 2-hour half marathon, yet have zero pace up a hill and work that into my training plan.
– Rich totally whooped my butt on this race, despite me on paper being faster over 10k and I think I know why – he does a lot of dead lifts, weighted squats and lunges and has amazing core strength (not forgetting the fact that he is 6’3 and I’m 5’4!). I do none of these and it shows.
– There is no way I am going to enter the marathon until I have addressed the above and can do it any kind of justice. Run/walking it isn’t an option for me – if I’m going to do something I need to give it my all.
– I have much more mental strength than I thought – apart from taking a quick picture and asking a fellow competitor if he was OK after taking a nasty rolling fall, I didn’t stop and walk once despite every fibre of my being screaming for me to stop.
Will I do this again?
Absolutely – purely out of dogged determination to come away at the end feeling good, and feeling as though I put in the work and did the best I could.
Diva rating: 4/5
– Great bit of bling
– Fabulous views and a great, if extremely challenging, course
– Well organised (although I think they could work on the chip collection more – my poor dad and Rich had to hand mine back after returning home and finding mine still on me!)
– Lots of space to run
Big thanks to my dad for taking the amazing pictures. x