After the superb support I enjoyed in Brighton normal service was resumed with Mrs Trihard declaring it was too frosty for the family to be hanging around for an hour or more. So after scraping off the car I headed over to Crowborough on my own trying not to think about the freezing cold ford I'd soon be running through.
As a result I decided to plug in the tunes. However as the race started I soon realised that for once S Club Seven's Reach for the Stars wasn't firing me up as normal and I was actually finding the music rather distracting. Once I ditched the headphones I actually, NEWS FLASH, started to enjoy the race. The first few kilometres were all downhill but as I knew I had an epic climb ahead of me I took it rather easy, certainly a lot slower than I had in Brighton. I've learnt from bitter experience that it's tempting to charge down hills at top speed only to find you've got nothing left in the tank for the remaining 75% of the run.
Once I reached the ford we were directed over the tiny bridge so I didn't have to get my delicate tootsies wet in the near freezing water. So far, so good. Then it was time to scale, what one EGTC member had described the previous day as, the cliff. I didn't quite make it to the top but I am proud to say that there were plenty of other competitors who resorted to walking before I did. In your faces non beer belly runners!
According to my magical heart rate monitor this was a climb of 196 metres. After a bit of a plateau it was then downhill again and I was already half way round. Perhaps I wasn't going to finish last after all.
Once again I paced myself on the descent and managed to get a considerable distance up the cliff before having to take it a bit easier. Once at the top there was only a couple of kilometres to go. A little while later after rounding a bend, one of the many extremely friendly and supportive marshals said there wasn't far to go, so I picked up my pace a little.
Then another marshal cheerfully announced: "Just one more small hill to go." What?! Another flipping hill?! I was concerned I'd mistimed my final surge and wouldn't be able to maintain my pace. Luckily as I rounded the corner I could see the finish line and compared to the cliff this last hill was more of a slight incline. My official (gun) time was 1hr and a 14th of a second but considering I was toward the back of the starting pack I'm going to go out on a limb and say that I must finished a good few seconds under an hour.
In retrospect I probably could have pushed myself a bit harder on the descents but at the end of the day I'm happy with the limited walking time scaling the cliff. This 10k was always going to be part of my training for the Boxing Day run and I can tell that my running fitness has massively improved in the last six weeks. Maybe next year I'll push myself harder but for now I'm more than happy with the result. Anyway a big thank you to all the Crowborough marshals who had to stand in the cold but didn't wavour in their support and friendliness. And I didn't come last, I finished 327th out of 386.