This week has all been about the Dirt Half. As it was my first half marathon trail race I just wanted to enjoy the race and cross the finish line feeling happy and strong. But the way the week went meant that that was in doubt…

Dirt Half Trail Race

The Dirt Half is a trail race that follows the canal towpath north to Stoke Hammond with stunning views, climbs through beautiful countryside to Great Brickhill then passes through the scenic Stockgrove Country Park before following the Greensand Ridge back to the start via the canal towpath. Having helped water stations previously I was I was really looking forward to running it this year, especially as it would be my first trail race over a decent distance.

Unfortunately for most of the week leading up to the race I’d been suffering from stomach cramps, and I was definitely having GI problems the day before. But I was determined to run it so I turned up I stood on the start line, albeit not my usual smiley self as Jen put it.

Dirt half elevationThis race was all about enjoying myself so I set myself a target of two hours and the challenge of pacing myself up the hill and though the undulating woods which is not as easy as pacing on a flat course.

I started out with a few others from my club who wanted to do around two hours, it was slow at first but once we we’re on the canal towpath we each settled into our individual rhythm. Thankfully the stomach issues that had plagued me over the previous few days disappeared as soon as I started running and I soon settled into at what felt like two hour effort. It was an effort level I was able to maintain all the way around, including going up that hill. It might have been slower going up that hill but for a while I was flying down the other side at sub-7:30 min/mile pace – shouting, “Wheeeeeeee!” whilst another runner commented, “Someone’s enjoying themselves,” as I ran past them.

During the race I stopped to let my daughter take photos, I stopped and chatted at the water stations whilst having a cup of water and I spent a considerable part of it chatting to other runners, including going up that hill – although that was a pretty much one way conversation if I’m honest. I could have shaved over two minutes off my time if I hadn’t stopped still, according to my stats on Garmin Connect, but what’s the rush. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and finished in 1 hour 59 minutes and 55 seconds. How’s that for pacing?

Like life, it’s sometimes better not to take running to seriously…

This week’s training:

  • Tuesday: 60 min DUSA progression run
  • Wednesday: 45 min easy along trails
  • Thursday: 40 min easy
  • Saturday: Dirt Half Marathon
  • Sunday: Nowt!

Until next time…

Kassia Gardner




P.S. If you want to know what Kev and the girls did whilst I was running then read about their adventures of geocaching in Leighton Buzzard.

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