Having volunteered as a marshal at this race last year (because I was too disorganised to get a race spot), this was a “must” for 2013. It’s in my neck of the woods and I know some of the trails well- the views are stunning.
The race comes as a 10 km or 10 mile option. It seemed that most opted for 10miles, but either way the route is petty gruelling and a perfect way to blow the cobwebs off after a few days of Xmas merriment.
Since signing up for the Marathon des Sables, I have lost a sense of perspective; today is a good example to prove that point. Not being content with “just” a 10 mile race for my long Sunday run I decided it would be better to run there as a warm up, race and then run home. A warm up… so, maybe a mile or so? Nope! 6.4 miles! Yeah, a full 10k as a warmup. Run – eat/drink – Run – eat/drink – Run. Great training for the checkpoints at the MdS.
With this perfect plan in place and nice route in mind, I set the alarm for 7am.
7am came and I was regretting the late night KFC on the journey home from London. If there is one area I can improve my training in 2014- avoiding food binges is it. A zinger tower burger, BBQ beans, chicken popcorn, a mini fillet, large fries and large coke at 11pm is not prefect race prep. I saved half of the coke, let it go flat over night and used it as my pre-race drink! (See earlier Lakeland50 blog for my love of coke as race fuel- shame I can’t take it to the desert!)
Bag packed, brekkie half digested and with the sun rising, it was time to warm up! And boy, I needed to warm up! It was below zero when I left the house.
A perfect start to the day.
The warm-up was largely uneventful. Well, except the frozen slushy flood that covered a 20m stretch of the road. The only route around was a 2 mile detour… Or shimmy along the embankment whilst gripping hedgerow! Ouch! Oh and I got lost… the 10km became 10.5.
I arrived at race HQ puffing and panting to the few puzzled looks for fellow racers sipping their pre-race teas, coffees and lucozade. Great organisation by the guys at My Sporting Times meant number collection, bag drop and a quick toilet break all went with out a hitch. Awesome work by the all the helpers and marshals! very friendly!
With 15mins to stretch, stay warm (yeah right!!), slurp some KFC Pepsi, say hi to a few familiar faces and then stiffen up, I was starting to regret that “warm-up”!
And we we’re off
The front runners were off like rockets. I tried the usual game of looking for a bunch of people who “look” to be similar level (a dangerous guessing game- always some surprises!). I avoided looking at my watch for the first 5 miles and tried to run base on “feel”. My aim was 1:20:00 so I was trying to feel my way to 8min/mile pace on 6 mile old legs.
The road sections were icy, lots of slipping around corners. The muddy fields were stiff- plenty I opportunity to roll and ankle and the rolling hills were energy sapping. As we reached the 4 mile marker, I had 10 miles in the bag. Done! Well, not quite! As I approached the 5 mile marker I allowed myself a quick look at the Garmin. 7:50 splits. Happy!
At 6-7miles there was a tricky climb where the recent rain had washed a gully into the path. That combined with a bit of fatigue and some trainer sucking mud, my pace dropped of a lot. From there we had some nice down hill and flat open fields to trot across! The 8min/mile average was back on. At the 8 mile marker my Garmin was reading 7.73. I was ahead of schedule, brilliant! I held that thought for the next 2 miles. Until I got to the final, “9 miles” marker… That final mile felt like the Longest mile ever. The sun was up and melting the frozen mud, enough people had covered the ground that it was getting boggy! My pace was fading, I was regretting the 10k warmup, I was regretting the choice of road shoes (which had been prefect until now) and I was regretting the KFC. That “final mile” was more like 1.2 miles and felt like 1.5! urgh!
I crossed the line in 1hr21min.
Slightly behind plan, but it placed me 77th/259 overall and 40th/80 in the men’s under 30.
I avoided the mince pies and mulled wine at the finish line- not ideal prep for the run home! With the temperature still low I started to stiffen up. With a few layers back on, a feeling the cold I figured it was probably best to get a lift home; I wimped out of the full run home and opted for a 10 minute jog to “cool down” and meet Lucy.
All in all, a good days training. Three 10s – 10km warm up, 10mile race, 10min warm down.
A special mention for a friend, Lucy Jolly, who blasted around the course in 1hr 1min and won the race! Epic running by Luc – nice job mate!
I’ll definitely be going back next year, without the warm-up to try and post a quick time (though, I thinks Luc’s time is perfectly safe!). It’s an awesome, picturesque race that’s not too big, a good range of running abilities and some great support from locals dotted around the villages and farms!
In the mean time, lots of [good quality] food to help recover ready for tomorrows training run…. a home made half-marathon!