I’ve run this race a number of times before and always enjoyed it. The weather can be…. variable! Well it is early March after all. It is a road run, the course basically making a rectangle and narrow country lanes. It is slightly undulating, with one longish drag of uphill. It’s also pretty local to me and starts at 9am – I like the early start!
The day before I looked up my previous times for this race:
- 2016 – 00:55:33
- 2017 – 00:58:01
- 2018 – 01:00:16
There appears to be a pattern of adding 2.5 mins per year! I seem to think that last year I had a cold or something, which is why that one was a bit slower.
This years aim – to come in under an hour. And I’d hoped that I could possibly get close or maybe beat 2017s time.
This race is chip timed, so no worry about starting a bit back in the field and we were soon off and heading past the big house and down the drive out of the parkland. There is always a bit of a laugh along here as the sheep are a little bit spooked by all these runners and invariably try to cross the race route (at which point you can spot those runners that are used to being in the country and those that aren’t!), past The Pipe & Glass who provide the after race flapjack (delicious!) and up the slight hill before the first left turn. As the course is essentially a big rectangle navigation is very easy – four left turns! I like this course as the first mile or two is essentially fairly flat, which works well for me as it allows me to get my legs and lungs warmed up before they are pushed hard. I tried to settle into a comfortable rhythm without being overly concerned about my pace. After the second left turn is the longest straight section of the race, slightly undulating and this year, with a head wind. I dropped in behind my husband (useful for something!) and before long I was aware others had settled in behind me to try and get a little bit of respite.
A video of us leaving the park here.
Next left turn and we were at the water station (bypassed) and the beginning of ‘the hill’. Last year I had to walk up part of this hill so was very pleased to manage to run the whole lot this time; even more so when I looked at my splits later to have only dropped about 9 secs / mile on my pace. Mentally this was a point in the race that I knew once I was past I could possibly start to push a bit more, taking advantage of some slight downhills to increase the pace without increasing effort too much.
The last left turn of the course and finally we had the wind behind us and another opportunity to push. I’d started doing mental arithmetic at this point, knowing that the first four miles were all over 9 min miles, but not by much I was trying to work out if I could possibly bring the average pace to 9 min. My brain then had to work out what finish time a 9 min mile would be (just less than 56 mins), which would put me pretty close to my fastest time on this course – but I didn’t think I could bring it in at that, or less.
At this point a guy I’d spoken to earlier in the race caught me up and we chatted a little. This was really good for me as he was pushing me to run that bit faster. And it is always nice to speak to others.
The last couple of hundred meters of this race has a bit of a hill, which can sap every little bit of energy you have left! But I was determined to keep pushing and managed to pull away from the guy I’d been running with. With probably only 20 or 30 meters to go a friend shouted that my son was nearly catching me up – which obviously prompted a final sprint over the finish line! (he didn’t catch me, but very nearly did!)
Chip time – 55:00 – a course PB!
I am so pleased with this. It comes in at 8:50 min / mile which is faster than I’ve run for a long time. I’ve finally managed to lose a few lbs, so I’m wondering if that is the reason that I’ve managed to achieve that pace! (lots more to lose still though).