So, the morning finally arrived, and I woke wondering whether activities from the day before had actually helped or hindered the aims of the day. It was a good day though, so I am definitely not complaining!!
For a couple of reasons Mum and Dad were up to visit the area for the weekend and we met them on Saturday afternoon at Denbies vineyard for an afternoon of supping on grape juice and pootling around the hills on a little train pulled by a defender. It was a glorious afernoon and lovely to hear about a local company doing so well. And the wine was tasty. Sadly though, we were a little too late for tea, so we then drove up to the top of Box Hill for a massive wedge of cake and a cuppa.
On return home I then proceeded to spend the next hour mowing the lawn which was probably 6″ long. It did not help my back – but at least it is done now!! We then went for dinner with Mum and Dad at The Parrot in Forest Green – Lynds has been there and said it was nice, but bloody hell, it was delicious! Sadly not much to carb-load with so I had to settle for a yummy pork and pistachio terrine followed by a fillet of hake on a bed of roasted sweet peppers with some potato (not enough to be considered a source of carbs). It was all very nice.
But it did leave me wondering on Sunday morning – had it been enough? Had it been too much?
I headed out to Crawley nice and early to pick up my race entry chip, but still found the car park at the K2 chocka-block. Some sneaky fella moved some barriers tho and I nipped in, hoping it wouldn’t be too serious! The race, as might be guessed from the name, is based at the K2 sports centre in Crawley, and it is absolutely massive! Heading through the gym I came out of the door at the athletics track and headed up the stairs to collect my racing chip.
It was pretty cool to do a few warm up laps of a nice proper track – also interesting to know that it’s there, and I think available for training on for a small fee whenever a club is not there.
The kids race started as I was doing some stretches and it was great to watch the little ones doing a lap of the track to applause from the crowd around the track at on the stadium.
At just after 10:30 we were off. Starting the race with 300m on the running track was fun, and with a relatively small field of about 200 runners it didn’t take too long to stretch out. I found my rhythym quite easily despite aiming for 7:10min/mi a pace slightly quicker than I had trained for. But after the first mile I felt pretty comfortable.
Things started to go a little wrong in the second mile though, where the track thinned out to a single pathway and about 5th in a line of runners I was unable to go any faster than the person in the front and my speed for the mile dropped to 7:30. As soon as I could get through I pushed on, but maybe a little too hard as the course headed up hill from here and just kept climbing and struggled to maintain my pace. At the turnaround point I had suddenly thrown in an eight minute mile – was my plan for 45 minute domination foiled?!?!
We headed back down the hill we had come up, and taking tips from the training session on Thursday I decided to open up the legs a bit, lean forward and just go for it. I made up time and ground, and managed to get my pacing back into the zone, but not much faster.
The route back was a little prettier as we headed into the woods, but the tracks were far more open. This half of the race was more undulating than the simple ‘up’ from the first half, and I was able to better sustain my pace. Sadly though I couldn’t quite bring it down enough with a 7:16,19,12 for the last three miles.
Running into the stadium was really fun, makes you feel like a proper athlete, and with 300m to go I was on 44:30. That’s 3x Bolt style 100 metres back to back – probably not achievable. But I pushed as hard as my little legs could go – just desperate to get whatever time I could, safe in the knowledge that it was still a massive PB.
And there it was, 45:48. Not exactly what I had hoped for, but not even a minute over what I was aiming for and still huge PB so I am ecstatic!!!
Not only that, but I was inside the top 40 finishers (a rare occurance even at parkrun) and even top 15 in my age category (a large catergory as a Senior Male).
The race route was well marked, and marshalls were all happy and friendly along the route, and organisation was as efficient as I have ever experienced with a ‘nice-work’ event – but sadly the medal was also as naff as could be expected from a nice-work event too! Oh well, it’s still taking pride of place on the medal display.
As ultra training commences now, I’m not sure I’ll have another stab at the 10km any time soon, but I have really enjoyed the training, and I look forward to going faster soon! I intend to keep some speed / hill work in my new training plan anyway.
Oh, and on the afternoon Mum, Dad, Lynds and I headed up the local hill and stood waiting for men in lycra to come whizzing past. It was very exciting to see actual proper professional cyclists attacking the hill that took us hours (seemingly) to walk up, with such incredible ease. Getting home I am glad we only made it two thirds of the way up the hill as we saw the KOM point on the TV and it was heaving!! Incredible, and a phenomenal end to the Tour of Britain for Mark Cavendish.