It has been a few days, it must surely be time for a review; so here goes:
“I’m breathing easy,” I think to myself. “My legs are ticking over, this feels perfectly doable.”
“Only two more of these to go.”
I have just ticked off the second mile in about 7 minutes and I am a third of the way through the race. Things feel good and the slight downhill we’ve just experienced has enabled me to maintain my pace comfortably as I continue to edge past people who might have set off a little quicker than their legs were hoping for. I sit in momentarily with each person I catch – hoping that I can draft even for a few moments before pushing on and, in my head at least, leave them in my dust.
Halfway in about 21:45 (according to my Garmin Connect stats); pretty much on target, but it is starting to hurt now. It wasn’t all that long ago that I would have been happy with this for a flat 5km time. I continue to catch small groups of two or three runners – reeling them in slowly until I pass their shoulder.
That gentle slope now seems like a mountain. I am breathing harder than I would like, and the 7 min/mile pace seems ridiculous. Still, the man who looks like a ‘proper runner’ in his fluoro-orange vest and short-shorts is now behind me and I am catching the lady in front. At 4.5 miles in to the race, it will all be flat from here, won’t it?
The words of Tom Williams from Marathon Talk float consistently in the space between my ears: “Nobody comes past you in the last 800m.” In fact, no one had passed me since about mile one; I was keen for that not to change now. I could hear the heavy breathing behind me, but didn’t dare to look around me to see who was there, just a few bends to go and we’d be back at the playing fields. With everything once of all that I had left I surged for the finish line, beating the guy behind me by just one second – I still hadn’t been overtaken.
And it was done.
Two and half minutes off of my 10km PB was a bloody good day in my book, and pretty much exactly where I had hoped that I would have been. Oh and 63rd out of 376 is fine by me too.
Starting in a field it’s important to get in a good position to avoid the slight bottlenecks involved with three 90degree turns and one 180degree turn back onto the road. Once on the road and enjoying the Garden of England, the course is lovely.
Marketed as that rare beast of a fast and flat course ideal for PBs, I would say it pretty much lives up to that billing as the slight uphill would barely be a blip on a training run. But without closed roads, the risk of traffic holding you up is still there.
NiceWork certainly seem to know how to host a race, and they should because they do a lot of them. The volunteer marshalls were supportive and whilst the crowds were hardly lining the streets of Staplehurst, it was nice to get a congratulatory “well done” at frequent intervals. Pre-race, the number and electronic chip arrived in plenty of time; the results were posted online the same afternoon. Sadly no pictures of the event seem to exist online anywhere though.
Set up in the playing fields was handy as it meant that families with kiddies were well looked after with a playground. The registration was in the village hall which was a few minutes walk away (across a busy main road). Not much else though, although the scouts had set up their hall to provide tea, coffee and a bacon butty!
NiceWork put on a lot of races and they are always good value. Sadly, a result of this seems to be that the medal is a bit naff. You get what you pay for I suppose.