TARPLEY 20 MILE 26/02/2018

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We were going to run the Tarpley 20 and it took about an hour to get to just outside Bury St Edmunds and the area looked really pretty. After getting to race HQ I made the all important loo visit and we collected our race numbers and got ready for the race. I had an energy bar then put loads of Vaseline on my feet and ankles, or as my running friend P puts it “I got vazzed up before my run”. I didn’t feel too self-conscious as the men in front of me were slathering loads of Deep Heat inside their compression socks. That’s a new one on me!

We dropped our bag off and found 2 Marathon group besties A and K who were also running and S who’d come to support. A was road testing her London Marathon unicorn outfit and she looked amazing!

After a banana (I’m taking this fuelling thing seriously) we made our way to the start line. I had a tiny water bottle in my hand that Verena had given me and decided to carry it until the next water station. In the end I found the little bottle so easy to carry that I kept it and filled it at each water station.

As we crossed the start line the first thing I noticed was that there wasn’t a rush to get ahead, the runners all jogged at an easy pace chatting to each other. This wasn’t a 10k race where runners were looking for PBs, it was a spring marathon training race and the runners were just looking to get over the Finish line.

Mr H and I don’t run together in races, training runs are different as they are done at “conversation pace” but in a race, everyone has their own goal so we run separately as Mr H is faster than me. I wanted to run slower than my usual pace and build up if I was not in pain so I did 5 miles at 6:00min/km pace and after that started to gradually increase. This was nice because I was comfortable, warming up nicely and chatted to A and K before going ahead.

The weather was beautiful, the route was so pretty and I was feeling really good. Another thing I forgot to mention last week was that Verena has always told me to “activate my glutes” while running but last week the physio told me not to. I wondered if that had been my downfall last Sunday as muscles are all joined so my glutes would have stretched my hamstrings and IT Bands. So I decided to squeeze my little butt cheeks as much as I could and after 20 miles I reckon I now have buns of steel!

From behind I must have looked a right state with my clenched bum, race vest that will not stay on my hips (Dear Jags, can we have new ladies vests please? Love Vikki xxx) and a back pocket full of gels with my lucky stone. I must have looked as if I had a growth on my lower spine.

I had a gel at 9k as I was feeling great and didn’t want to wait until I was tired. There was very little cross wind or head wind and although the route was undulating, most of the hills were down rather than up. The route was a single lap too so we didn’t have to look at anything twice. We ran though some beautiful villages and I had a fair bit of house envy!

I kept an eye on my pace and passed 10 miles at 1:35. My Freethorpe 10 PB was 1:20 so I was pleased that I was finding this pace comfortable but still in good time. I passed 13 miles at 2:04 which was my Lowestoft half marathon time in 2016. Again I felt really good. I had another gel at 18k and chatted to a few runners as I overtook them. I was glad I had not gone out too fast as a few of them looked quite worn out. I started to feel really warm but every now and then I’d pass a puddle with half an inch of ice on it which reminded me how cold I’d be if I stopped moving.

S popped up every now and then which was great for support and to see a familiar, friendly face, he got some fab photos of us all too!

At 25k I had another gel and then heard a cyclist call out “good running Vikki!”. I have to say the marshals were fantastic all the way round but there were also a lot of cyclists going back and forth giving people encouragement. I don’t know whether the cyclists were marshals or just from running clubs giving their runners support but it was a nice touch. As I looked at the cyclist who had called out to me (I have my name on my race vest) I realised he was Tom from Bungay black Dogs RC and TP Fit Coaching. Tom cycled with me for 2 miles and we had a really nice chat which helped me increase my pace and take my mind off the last few miles. As we chatted Tom asked if I’d seen Bill Wyman’s house earlier in the route. I’d craned my neck being nosey at so many houses but totally missed that one! Tom very kindly asked if I needed any rubbish taking away and if I wanted any more gels but I was fine so we parted ways as I headed for mile 20.

At 30k my left knee twinged, Argh! I had one gel left and I didn’t need it but decided to have it anyway to pass the time and take my mind off my knee. At my Marathon training day, the coach said to sip gels slowly over 1-2km as it helps digestion plus gives you something to do!

The next thing I knew I could see the finish line! Mr H was beaming when he saw me, he’d obviously been worried too. I crossed the finish line at 3 hours, 4 minutes and 44 seconds which I was over the moon with, I’d actually sped up for the last few miles, even dipping down to 5:00min/km a few times!

There was no medal although I had known about that, it was just a t-shirt. But it was a nice t-shirt and I was so happy to have completed 20 miles and enjoyed such a nice race that I could live without bling.

Howard Harper2.51.24FTBRONZE
Vikki Harper3.04.44FTBRONZE