I had wanted to do this race last year, but it’s timing wasn’t too good to fit in with my first marathon – and I didn’t really have the confidence that I could do another race too close to marathon day. This year though I decided that this race would form the first 10 miles of my 22 mile run – my last LSR before beginning to taper.
As it got closer to race day my doubts grew over whether it was a good idea – my training hadn’t been going well and I felt I didn’t want to risk this race sabotaging my last attempt at a long run. However I decided that having people around me may help me manage a consistent 7:30 min/mile that I needed for these miles – and if I could just carry this on after the race and not lose my mind I could do it.
As the race is local to me I decided to walk to this one – 2.5 miles at a casual pace in what was quite cool weather for this time of year. Registration for this event was inside the Countesthorpe Community College building and at first I couldn’t find the way. I eventually realised that you had to walk through the changing rooms in order to get your number. I usually have to spell out my surname when asked for it, but this time I chose not to – this resulted in them not being able to find my race number until I actually did. There were a few comments I overheard about the facilities too – one of the mens rooms were out of order meaning that there were massive queues for one (as the third was out of paper). At least this one had facilities! Some races I’ve been to have not.
I sat around inside for a while to let the time pass for a while, but found it cold. Once I was outside I soon realised that the weather had warmed up considerably and that it was unlikely I’d be now needing my jumper. By the time I got to the start line I decided to move my race number over to my tee and to put my jumper around my waist. I’d just about finished this when the race began.
To start with we headed towards Willoughby Waterleys and passed straight through – surprisingly the amount of cars trying to pass us was quite minimal, but at times it restricted when we could overtake. It wasn’t really an issue though as I wanted to keep my pace down anyway. By the time we’d passed through we’d already done two miles and I was running 10 seconds per mile quicker than I’d intended – but it was a gentle down-hill route for most of these two miles.
After this the hills continued to roll beneath our feet, one hill after another but none as severe as those which I encountered during the Rugby Half Marathon. Some of these did require a little more effort to get up them, but never really found the need to walk like I had done in Rugby. After a while I started to lose track of the miles – I was just watching the countryside go by, and the occasional flyover of aircraft from the Victory Show in Cosby.
Some of the route after what would have been the 5 mile point started to become recognisable again – it was a road I’d driven down many times before and I knew the incline of this hill. It was an enjoyable run even though there wasn’t really any support along the route. I even had a conversation with another runner somewhere around mile 7 and found that I wasn’t even short of breath and could talk comfortably. This felt really strange for a race!
What I hadn’t noticed though was that my pace had increased and for the last two miles of the race – which were a steady incline I was actually doing sub-7 minute miles unintentionally. At mile 8 I realised I hadn’t yet had any water or fuel so thought it might be an idea to try and handle the cups at the water station there – not as easy as bottles. I grabbed the cup cleanly, didn’t spill any, and carried on running – still without spilling any. I then when to take a sip and instead ended up with a face full of water, my feet wet, and it was wasted. It didn’t really bother me as I assumed there would be water at the finish, but it did result in me forgetting to eat a couple of jelly babies to prepare for the 12 mile run afterwards however.
Eventually I was back in Countesthorpe and there was then a one person wide filter to move into (out of the way of traffic) which went around onto a playing field. The route then continued around the outside of this until the finish line. I finished with a time of 71:16 according to my watch – not too bad for not really trying. As a result I finished 156th out of 630 finishers which put me just into the top 25% of finishers. Think that might actually be my worst position ever, but I wasn’t there to race, just to get the miles in.
After the race they handed over a bottle of water, removed the timing chip and then handed over a plastic cup with a bag of McVities iced gems inside. Only two minutes had passed in this time and I was back running again to complete another 12 miles.
It was a good event and one I’d be quite keen to try again under proper racing conditions so will hopefully be back next year.
The remaining miles started well, but within a few miles of pausing again to drop race things off at home I then started to really struggle with the miles. By about mile 16.5 the blister that had formed a couple of miles prior was starting to get uncomfortable and that combined with going up hill I resorted to walking – the first of many times for this run. After an enjoyable race it was a shame to have such a confidence shattering run that had left me so disheartened, but now I’ve got three weeks to get passed that, taper, and decide what I’m going to do about the race day.