I run to race, so it’s hard to maintain focus through a marathon build up as the target race can seem so far away! Having said that, races take it out of you (mentally as much as physically) so I’ve been keen to back off from too much racing & have used low key races as specific sessions rather than actually racing them through my last couple of build ups which has worked well.
Wilne was pencilled in quite early as part of a strong weekend’s training with a view to being close to PB shape off another quality week’s training…& so it turned out!
When the wind keeps you awake the night before a race you know it’s not going to be ideal conditions for running fast, & unfortunately the forecast proved right – strong winds all morning. Luckily (to put a positive spin on it) the wind was the right direction, with some protection along the main straight from Sawley to Draycott which we’d only run 1 1/2 times.
Given the stage of my marathon preparation I knew I’d take some waking up so after a fairly leisurely (~7:30mm->6mm) 1 1/2 laps of the course I got kitted out & laced up the flats for the first time in what seemed like months! Some slightly quicker running before my now established routine of strides, drills & minimal stretching. I now do all of this on my own as I feel it’s an important part of the race/preparation & very specific to the individual – including the timing of it.
It was pretty manic before the start – not surprising given entries were reported to be 1,100 – so there wasn’t much chance to see who had turned up to race! On getting to the start line it was clear that despite the wind this was still going to be a quality & relatively fast race. #4 for me which might have been a bit optimistic of Rich given my current mileage & yesterday’s 24 miles. #1 – Ali Watson – 2nd last year, 29:36 at Highgate 10000m, #2 Darren Deed – 5M PB 23:42, 10K PB 29:48, #3 Josh Bull – 5000m PB 14:25, Derby 10K 30:20. There was also Sam Stevens, Toby Spencer & two relatively unknown Africans in Desta & Hadera not to mention several other quality runners.
It felt like quite a relaxed start – possibly attributable to a rare treat of caffeine mixed with the adrenaline of racing rather than the dread of a daunting long Sunday run – & a strong lead pack quickly formed with Ali & Desta to the fore (must say it was Ali really, with Desta keen to sit on the shoulder of whoever lead). Having used this 3.5M loop as part of my long runs the previous two Sunday’s & ran the course in warm up I knew the pace might drop as we twisted round to get onto the main part of the loop. Josh threw a surprise in with a big push at 1K & as others seemed to be waiting for somebody to react I took it on to close the gap given I was here for a hard hit out rather than a 10K mess about & I knew Josh was in good nick (could we get a small gap early on?).
I found myself feeling good at the front through 2K & on towards 3K as we ticked off 3min K’s. The pace started to bite as we headed towards 4K & although still up with the leaders as we crested the small climb onto the main road as Ali & Desta put an effort in to break away any zip in my legs had gone & I was quickly spat out the back of what was now a small front group (Ali & Desta racing for the 5K prize pot with Toby Spencer & Sam Stevens closely behind). Although the trees provided some protection this was a tough slog for around 2K & I found myself isolated & working alone all the way. I really felt the pace drop, although having seen other’s splits on Strava it’s clear we were all in the same boat!
A big push through the twisting section again & although tiring I felt that I had closed the gap to Sam which gave me an interim target. I was out of the race for the win (always very unlikely, but not something I had totally discounted before the start) so this was now about time & running hard so at no point did I concern myself with what was happening behind. The leaders were ~250m in front, Toby ~30m behind them & Sam a further ~50m back. I made a big effort to close up on Sam as early as possible, the theory being I could take a breather for a minute before pushing on again. I eventually closed the gap & after briefly sitting in – a mental breather if nothing else – worked alongside him as we concentrated our efforts forward to Toby up the road.
I planned to give everything I had from 9K so to have a big cheer from my sister at that point was perfect timing! I knew Sam would have a strong kick on him, but at the same time I knew the late kick up to the main road meant so long as I could get a gap of a couple of seconds with 400m to go I should be safe in position. It was just head down & grind it out for a last 3 minutes of pain! Again this was for time rather than position so although I felt I’d managed to get a small gap I didn’t look back & just raced for the finish.
Off the top & 200m to go! Nobody was mentioning anybody behind but generally I find information from supporters best taken with pinch of salt in any case. Andy was at 200m to go but was focussed solely on time & did mention sub 30:30 might be on… One last ‘sprint’ (at this stage of marathon training I hate to think what this actually looked like, but I was trying!) & I came home in 4th, almost catching Toby at the finish with a new 10K PB of 30:34. Closely followed by Darren Deed in 5th & Sam Stevens (18 years old!) in 6th. Full results. Rich Kay & team put on silky smooth events & I’ve been pleased to take part in several now (although rarely fit for them) – I’ll definitely be back for the next one which is the inaugural Derby 10 Mile on the 6th November.
I knew I was in good shape, & if everything went well, a strong pack & perfect conditions I felt sure I would run a PB & get close to 30:30. To do that on a windy day, on a course that previous results indicate isn’t as fast as expected & within 16 seconds of sub 30 10K guys certainly indicates I’m in a good place 3 weeks from the main event.
The morning kept getting better as well:
Speaking to Darren after he is also racing Berlin & is looking at a similar time to me so we’ll have some company on the day.
The mighty Notts AC picked up the men’s team prize – Ali, me, Rob Keal (1st V40 31:58!) & John Muddeman (tanned & fat after honeymoon, very respectable 35:20).
More Spencer PB’s – Kini with a 30 second PB, Mum with a season’s best 10K both at Wilne & Jo winning the Leicestershire vets 10 mile title with a 10M PB of 70:01 & securing the Leicestershire Road Running League vets title in the process.
Happy days – I love racing! For now though, back to the grind.