Watermead Challenge 2014 – 5 miles – Tuesday 8th July 2014

Now I am a fully-fledged club runner, and affiliated “athlete” (cough), I thought it was about time I entered a race. I chose the Watermead Challenge for two reasons;

Organised by Wreake Valley Rotary Club, this year’s event was raising money for TextEllis. As a Leicester City fan, I’ve donated already to this cause, and followed the progress of the guys as they bicycled to every away game last season. It is a great cause.

Secondly, it’s a new distance. Clubs have standards, and I have a time already for 5k, and now need to clock times in four other distances to make the grade. It’s something to aim for, as I’m not going to win any races, but at the end of the year, I’d like to feel I’ve achieved something!

In terms of my times, I have achieved Silver standard (150% of world record time for my age-group) for the 5k at County level. At Club level, I have Gold standard for the parkrun! Maintaining these standards on what was described as a “PB course” was my aim. So, 39 minutes for Club Gold, and 37:42 for County Silver!

Eek!

I arrived at the race start with plenty of time to collect my number. Sadly, it was hoofing it down, and the temperature had dropped. I had the difficult choice of keeping my trackies dry for later, or keeping warm whilst warming up. I ended up somewhere in between, leaving my now damp trackies in the car.

It was good to say hello to other club team mates before the race, as well as friends. By the time we started lining up, the rain had stopped, and the temperatures were rising.

I aimed to keep a couple of other runners in sight, who were aiming for 38 minutes, and then see what happened. What happened was, I started very, very quickly. There were a few slower runners ahead, and I upped my pace to get round them. Realising I was going too quick, I settled down. I was very surprised to see that my first two kilometres were ahead of pace. I was feeling comfortable, so stuck with it, and kept going. As each kilometre was ticked off, I started to think, “if I blow now, I’ll still finish in under 40 mins…”, “I’ll finish in under 39 mins…”.

Next thing I knew, I had a mile to go. Whilst I wouldn’t call it a “kick”, I could very slightly increase the pace. Unfortunately, I couldn’t muster a sprint finish, and was pipped on the line into either 11th or 12th female finisher (the results don’t show gender, and counting names off a screen isn’t the best way to determine placings). I was 67th overall out of 199 runners!

More importantly, I finished in a time of 37:05! Not only did I maintain Silver standard on the County system, but I just scraped Gold Gilt standard at Club level! I totally exceeded my own expectations. I now have to see if I can get my Parkrun time down to 22:22!

I know that I will get stronger and quicker, especially as I increase the strength and speed work, and I’d hope to pip someone else one day (sorry in advance). I also enjoyed the whole team camaraderie that club running brings. Having someone cheering for you, even when you’ve never met before, is a great boost. I was lucky that a couple of mates were watching the race, and it was lovely to see them. Thanks to everyone for the words of encouragement.

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