Ever since going round the Dan Booth Round back in December with Mark, I've wanted to go back as I knew I could go faster. Just how fast I didn't quite know! There was just never a good time to try again, until last week -- no structured training, and pools shut due to bank holiday. Go time!
We've been in the process of moving house so my access to internet has been pretty limited -- as a result, I didn't know Ben had gone again and set a really fast time of 3 hrs -- exactly the mark that I was setting for myself anyways.
We've had some amazing weather lately so I knew all the trails would be bone dry -- however spring has also well and truly sprung making most trails overgrown! To the point where you're fighting through the undergrowth, and I was covered in nettle stings.
From my previous attempt, I knew that I by setting off at the same pace, and keeping it together in the second half, should be sufficient to go under three hours. I started off strong and was on pace. However, coming down from the Newton St Loe trig point, despite the descending profile of the trail, I posted a 5min04 kilometer split (would preferably have been closer to the 3min55-4min00) due to the trail being so overgrown I grinded to a brisk walk. Nevertheless, I went through 19 km (halfway distance wise) in 1hr27, making me think going under 2hr55 was doable!
In the second half I kept the pace up. However I did lose some time as I stopped twice to tie my shoe laces, once to pick up my hat that had blown off my head, and another time to dip my head in a cold fountain as it was getting roasty on the trails! Furthermore, coming up to the bottom of Solisbury hill, I came nose to nose with some young bulls grazing by the gate that would lead me to the top. Choosing flight rather than fight, I doubled back, made my way through the forest and scrambled over the barbed wire fence. I lost some precious time there but it's all part of the fun!
In the end, I came very very close to going under the 2hr55 I had set my eyes on halfway through. Still very happy with the effort, and going just slightly faster than Ben's latest attempt!
I'm starting to know the course better and better, and there's always little things you can work on. I wouldn't be surprised if we started nudging the 2hr50 mark some time soon! I love this challenge, such a great way to run the local trails and get a real good effort in without all the faff of signing up for a race. Pick your day, set out the door, run your socks off!