The last two days of the Tour of Merseyside.
Race 5 (day 6) is the Knowsley Cross Country, followed by Race 6 (day 7) the Wirral Coastal run.
Between finishing race 5 and 6, there's only about 14 hours recovery - after a tough cross country course, followed by a 12 mile run, this was never going to be easy.
Sarah updates us on the last two days...
This is the Knowsley Cross Country.
This is the one I was kind of dreading a bit. Not because it was challenging, but more because I knew I’d only have 14 hours recovery before Saturday morning’s event. So even if I took it easy, there was going to be a pay off.
The race takes place at Stadt Moers park in Prescot – neither me nor my mum knew it existed and it’s huge!
Picnic packed by mum, we set off and were one of the first to arrive (for a change!)
We set up camp, while I paced nervously.
Baz was looking a little hassled, turns out they’d turned back as he’d forgotten his Garmin. When he picked it up he also found his Boosts! He still managed to forget his Shabba shirt though! Just as well he went back, as cross country in flip flops would have been interesting!
The first mile was awful. Lots of ups and downs (which are tough, but I don’t mind) but with all the twists and turns it was NEVER ENDING! Only bonus was there were loads of chances for the spectators to see us, and we had chances to cheer on each other as we passed each other going in opposite directions. Loved miles two and three, with the last mile ending on a fast downhill.
On the last downhill, I spotted my aunt with a camera at the bottom so may have aeroplaned down the hill – although her camera didn’t kick in to catch it! Luckily the official photographer did!! She then jogged in with me, and threatened to outsprint me to the line – well I’m too competitive for that – sprint finish again!
Day 7/Race 6 – Wirral Coastal Run – 12 miles out and back, along the prom including ½ mile along the sand.
I was a little overwhelmed at what I was about to do.
Thank goodness for me friends and family.
Dad came to watch, and Paul and Ian were running as guest runners, and I got a good luck call from Chris as he drove to parkrun at Walsall.
I settled down.
It was windy at New Brighton. Very windy. But as the hoards began to arrive, I started to get excited, rather than nervous.
Then the Shabbas arrived, with families into – the children just loving playing on the beach. Just as we were posing for a picture on the beach with our flag, another one arrived – Byron and Marissa had come to support – Byron secretly booking a guest runner place. So lovely to see them.
With one final call of “TOURISTS!! OGGY OGGY OGGY!!!!” the starting klaxon sounded and we were off.
I fell in very quickly with Clare (who I’ve been level pegging with all week), and Deb from St. Helen’s Striders, and we ran along steadily and chatted about the week. We’d all taken the decision not to push, but to enjoy the run – although we all said we felt heavy legged!
After her running belt snapped, Clare dropped back (I found out afterwards, her leg had pulled), so Deb and I carried on.
After a while, we started to see the faster runners coming back the other way. This was ace because we got to see all out Tour friends, and cheer them as well as our club runners – Paul was flying along just like his shirt said: Rocket! (he finished 1st guest runner!!); Then along came Ian – girly hands agogo (sorry NM) (he finished 3rd guest runner!!), then Baz – powering away head down (this time in Shabba red as he’s remembered his shirt!). Then Byron – being a grumpy yorkshireman saying “it were ‘ard!!”. Not forgetting Mark, whose bionic legs had held out long enough for him to have a good crack at the run today.
We got to the drinks station at mile 6, turned round and headed back across the sand, singing “We do like to be beside the seaside...”
The sand was tough going. I thought it was harder than the mixed terrain sand at Thursaston, but I appear to be in the minority on that one!
Deb was brilliant. She chatted, distracted, encouraged me the whole way – she clearly had more in her legs than I did, but was content to run alongside me keeping me company.
As we approached mile 11, I could see a few red shirts, all doing random stretches in their lycra – like some weird 1980s Olivia Newton John video.
The boys had come back for me. Debs told me to join them, and she stretched her legs off into the distance for her final mile of glory, as I joined the Shabba boys for the last run in.
I was tired. I’d been flagging since mile 9 – I was going to finish, but my legs felt about 10 tonnes.
Yet again, the boys were having none of it. They joked and bantered me all the way. Someone made a comment about me looking fresher than them – at which point I started correcting their form “head up! Pick your feet up! Knees up! Hips flexed and Belly button in!!” I might have been tired, but I felt happy, and hope that came across!
I crossed the line, hugged Debs, found Mark and hugged him. Found the Shabbas – and blubbed.
I’d done it.
I’d surpassed every expectation I’d had of myself – but I didn’t do it alone.
I’d had my family with me all the way – Chris and the kids cheering from home, mum and dad putting me up and looking after me, and my extended family both running and supporting. The Shabbas were amazing – both those who were able to come and run (like Paul, Ian, and Byron), those who were there to support in person (like Annmarie, Karen, Mick, Callum, Nic, Martha and Marissa) – and those who were sending me messages all week and cheering on Twitter/Facebook.
Not to forget the Tourists – I didn’t get to know all of them, but those I met at the races and online have built a lovely community of runners and I’m honoured to be part of it.
Baz was amazing – kind, encouraging, generous and utterly inspirational to watch him run the way he did that week. Thank you for making me jealous last year Baz – I’ve had the week of my life.
I’ll be back to the Tour – maybe in 2017, but it’s been special and I wouldn’t change a single moment.
In the words of the Tourists.... We go again.