Wenlock Olympics 7 Mile Road Race - 2022

I won the race back in 2019 which was the last time it was held and so I've had the trophy for 3 years.  I didn't really want to run the 2022 edition due to lack of general fitness, having done no hard sessions for best part of 9 months and my back issue was so bad in the week leading up to the race I was often hunched over.  The only reason for doing the race was that I needed to hand the trophy back and it was a 130 mile round trip so I may as well enter if I could physically get round.  I was expecting a bit of a car crash though and so it proved.

The weather was about as hot as I've run anywhere (other than perhaps the Marathon des Sables in the Sahara!) and when the race finished it was 26 degrees in the shade.  As the race was in the direct sun it will of course have felt much hotter.  Even in normal circumstances a course PB would have been out of the question.

I set off fairly conservatively but I just felt sluggish and had no pace - perhaps not unsurprising having done no speed work for several months.  I did pick off a few people here and there and after the first mile I was in 5th.  At the half way point I managed to get into 4th but I was struggling.  I knew my splits were way off, but on a tough course like this its difficult to draw any comparison as its possible to be +/-30 seconds off a mile split due to the undulations.  Over the next couple of miles I gradually drew level into 3rd with 2nd about another 25 seconds up the road with the leader out of sight.  To be honest I couldn't be bothered and just wanted the race to be over so I could get on my way home.  I knew being top 3 would result in having to stay round for ages for the presentations so I decided to just shut things down.  I let 3rd pull away and I jogged the last half a mile or so, with my fellow competitor believing we had had a battle - pretty bad etiquette really, but I guess it came from not really wanting to be in the race in the first place so mentally I was never really there.  If I had been more motivated I would have guessed 2nd was achievable based on the race situation at 5 miles, but would have been more touch and go.

I was expecting a bit of a car crash and frankly it was even worse than I had thought, but I had no reason to expect otherwise.  Post race my back had stiffened even more and I was basically immobile for several days after, so it continues to be an issue that I think will be with me for the long term as I've had it on and off (more on than off) for the last couple of years.  I think it reinforces that I will not be able to do much, if any road racing and running at speed just over stresses my back.

Trotting into the finish.

I do have a couple of races planned - the North Downs Way 100 miler in August and the Sri Chinmoy 24 hr Track Race in September.  Low intensity and much longer should be better suited to me but I'm still way way down on overall fitness so have no idea how I will fair. 


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