So today is the evening before the race morning after. My regular reader will know that the Round Sheffield Run is the highlight of my
running year. Not only for me, but for other Sheffielders, it is long looked forward to, and, apart from the first year when nobody knew what to expect, it sells out really, really quickly.
Uhm. Can I be bothered to explain it all again? Not really, but go on then. Simply put – the Round Sheffield Run is a 20km off-road trail run, only actually it’s 24km. Only 20km of it is timed. You do it in stages, so you only really run a couple of kilometers in one go. Teeny little stages, way less than a parkrun. As a consequence, it is easy to overlook basic arithmetic principles of the need to add all these sections together to estimate the total mileage required, it just doesn’t look that far, not really. Hardly worth training for.
Also there are trees, and friendly marshals, feed stations groaning under the weight of munchies at two points along the way. Friendly comradely runners, lots of different start waves. All social and jolly, and not really running at all, apart from the 24 km and the 2,121ft of elevation which is basically a flat route in Sheffield terms. Well maybe ‘undulating’. Oh and cows probably. You get your own dibber! Always a boon. Good bling and fine music and dining options post run. Guaranteed sunshine I seem to recall but might need to check terms and conditions for that to be fair. I don’t know why someone has taken a bite out of the acorn they used to model the medal, bad idea. Acorns can be really poisonous. Well for horses they are, pigs like them, and so did Eeyore, so maybe donkeys are OK with them, or possibly only Eeyore, I don’t know. Look, stop hassling me about the acorns for goodness sake. It’s the running people you need to look at. They haven’t officially told me, but I’m really confident they modeled those figures on me and my running buddy of previous years. I’m fine with it, I’d have given consent freely had they asked.
Bottom line, is that this has always been to date anyway, a super fun event and a ‘must do’ occasion on the Sheffield Running Calendar. However, just because at Hallam parkrun this morning we were all buzzing about it in eager anticipation ‘it’s like running Christmas day!’ exclaimed one running buddy (who actually likes Christmas by the way, in case you were wondering), doesn’t mean that on Round Sheffield Eve there isn’t a bit of apprehension as well.
In the spirit of getting my excuses in early, as in previous years it is now dawning on me that actually, you know what it is quite a long way. Also as in previous years I haven’t followed the diligent training regime I’d fondly imagined undertaking when I signed up some months ago. Worse than that, I’ve even knackered my knee this time. Hilariously, or ironically, depending on your point of view, I did this whilst doing a recce for the RSR two weeks ago. The plan had been to do the whole route at a steady trot just to remind myself of how to pace it, and give myself the confidence I’d get round fine on the day. The plan was definitely not to pick up a post race running injury a fortnight ahead of the event. Epic fail alas. In stead, I realised about half way round my knee was giving serious gyp (is that even a word?) and by the time I’d finished it, it was fair screaming at me never to run again. I’ve never hurt my knee running before. Usually it’s just my pride that suffers under any exertion. Uh oh. RSR in doubt.
I’ve had to back off even my usual pitiful running schedule, including missing out on both woodrun and the frontrunner fell running Wednesday evenings. Well I made one, pre-injury, and it was good fun actually, in a ‘let’s bound off boulders and try to out run the midges’ at Padley Gorge way. I enjoyed it. Not sure the couple who’d come out for a romantic picnic at the same spot felt entirely the same way…. But hey ho, each to their own. The photo is stolen from Fell Running Guide by the way. Thanks! 🙂 I’m in there somewhere… actually, I probably bounded so high I’m quite out of shot, leaping in a trajectory over the head of the photographer now I think of it. That makes sense.
So, upshot is, it’s the evening before the long-awaited RSR, and I’m feeling well, more towards the ‘what was I thinking‘ rather than ‘bring it on‘ end of the continuum. This happens every year to be fair, but normally I’m only battling being ridiculously under-prepared, not usually carrying an injury as well.
I went to parkrun at Hallam today, just for a gentle trot round to see if knee was up to it. It’s flat, and we are doing an alternative route at the moment because of road works. It’s really nice actually, under the shade of trees and a bit more traily, though also quite narrow so not for speed merchants. I figured I needed to see if I can do 5km without my knee crumbling, and it seems I can, as long as I’m careful going down hills. Me and my trotting compatriot for the day were deliberately slow as we are tapering for tomorrow, slow enough that we briefly contemplated just doing the one lap and whizzing through the finish funnel to secure new pbs. It was bit confused with the route and we’d already been lapped so we may well have got away with it. Plus, added temptation, lamentable times tomorrow could be explained by this unexpected performance peak the day before! In the end we didn’t though. There is little point in ‘cheating’ at parkrun. None whatsoever in fact, but the little moment of enjoying a fantasy finish time spurred us round!
Well, I was, waivering about whether running the RSR tomorrow is really such a great idea, but you know what dear reader? I’ve just finished convening with Roger, and I’m feeling a bit brighter now. Roger has been a running buddy for a while now. We were supposed to do the London Marathon together, but that didn’t happen for various reasons, and he’s been resting for most of the year. If by ‘resting’ you mean being stuffed in a plastic carrier bag at the back of a wardrobe. I went to find him, to explain…
Roger has been a great running buddy over the years, but I just wonder if it’s a bit much to drag him out on a 24km yomp when he hasn’t done anything since Southwark parkrun back in April. I mean, I do have a contingency giraffe (don’t we all), it would still be less embarrassing to face the event in fancy dress than in unforgiving lycra in the raw… maybe I should utilise that and let Roger retire, or at least have a season off, and then he can return restored, renewed and reinvigorated some other time after the requisite rest and relaxation has worked its magic.
Roger is wise though. He’s given me a bit of a pep talk. I was saying how much I wished there would be some more runners out there on the trails. So I wont be the last one out there all alone on the trails. I don’t mind being slowest one out there, but I’d like to get back in daylight and before the coffee place has packed up. Lawks a lordy – I don’t even know if I can run for a bus anymore, let alone romp round 24km, feed stations a plenty or not!
Roger though is smart. He explained you have to just find your motivation and then you can unlock your inner runner no worries.
If there were more runners, there might be more slowbies, and if there were more marshals, that would be more motivational high-fives and sweaty hugs to give me strength. ‘Well‘, he said, ‘don’t you dare wish for a single runner more. There are runners enough out there – any more finishers would only dilute your achievement‘. I paraphrase, what he actually said was this:
What’s that your wishing for?
More runners Lucy? No! don’t think it;
If we are meant to run, we are enough
To take on Sheffield’s trails; and still to live,
The fewer run, the greater share of honour.
I mean really! I say, wish not one runner more.
FFS! I would not lose so great an honour
As one more trail runner might steal from us
It will be great! O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, to anyone who’ll listen,
That they who have no stomach for this run,
Let them depart; we’ll wave them on their way,
And jelly babies for convoy give to them;
We would not yomp in that runner’s company
They that fear they might expire out there
and so choose not to die in fellowship with us.
Fair play, they need not join us running scared.
This race is call’d the Round Sheffield Run of well, Sheffield!
We that outrun these trails, and come safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam’d,
And come alive at the very mention of the RSR
We shall tell all who’ll listen* of our triumph
And how we took on the great challenge of the day.
We that shall see this day, and live old age,
Will yearly on the vigil bore fellow runners,
And say “To-morrow is the Round Sheffield Run
I’ve done that! Loads of times! Go me!”
Then we will we strip our shoes and show our scars,
And say “These blisters I had up Porter Valley.
See this hamstring limp? That’s from the limb descent”
Others may forget, but we won’t ever,
We’ll still remember, with advantages,
What feats we did that day. Then shall our club names,
Familiar in the mouth as household words—
Be newly toasted
We shall drink to Smiley Paces; Dark Peak to boot;
Cheers to Monday Mobsters and parkrunners all;
Strideout were there and Les Brutelles
Team Sloth and the lovely Barnsley Harriers too
Shout loud for Valley Hill Runners also
and the Porter Valley Plodders pounding through
all trail runners a-go-go who pulled on their shoes to run
Undaunted by the hills, or mud or the fact that ‘it’s an awfully long way to have to go now we come to think of it…’
So shall all such Round Sheffield Runners
Be each year by flowing cups freshly rememb’red.
This race shall remain the mecca trail run for all of England
And the Round Sheffield Run shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
Without all those who have ever run it being rememberèd-
We few, we happy few, we band of runners;
For they this day that pound the trails with me
Shall forever be my running buddies;
Even be they ever so vile,
This day shall gentle their condition;
And runners of the world that stay in-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their run bling cheap whilst any speaks
That ran with us upon the Round Sheffield Trails!
No honestly, he did! It was stirring stuff. I can hardly not rock up at the start after all that!
‘So are you coming out with me tomorrow then Roger?’ I asked. ‘I’m not sure’ he said, ‘you know about the “for want of a shoe” don’t you? Well, I’m not feeling too fabulous, and for want of a proverbial shoe you might not make it round the whole trail. Don’t you have a back up plan? One time only. Any random bit of African wildlife would do?’ ‘Oh’. I said. ‘I’ll think about it. It wouldn’t be the same without you, but I do take you point.’
So bottom line. I just need to find and channel my inner runner. When I do, if I can’t run like the wind, I shall run like the winded, which means I’ll still get to be part of it, and as a bonus, it also means I can eat the Belgian bun I have stashed away. It was going to be to celebrate having completed the run. But who I am trying to kid. Why go for delayed gratification when really I should be focusing on carbing up. Essential pre-event prep as any runner can tell you.
Soooooooooooooo, I expect I will be seeing you all at the start after all. Don’t have nightmares! And don’t forget to high-five me as you pass. If I’m collapsed on the trails, please step over me, no stamping on my face. Thanks in anticipation.
*to be fair, I don’t think we’ll care if anyone in the vicinity is listening or not, we’ll just hold forth about our RSR experiences anyway, shouting louder if necessary, so they can still here us as they try to get away.
Oh and for all my RSR blog posts see here. Scroll down for older entries.
Great to hear you’re giving it a go Lucy. See you at the starting line.. thanks so much for the encouraging pep talk. I feel quite humble having just read this,.,
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