if you know me, or if you’ve been following my progress recently (or lack of), you will know I’ve been under the weather. A series of viruses has knocked me back, and then I ended up with a dicky tummy trying to prevent any more colds. Doh!
It’s hampered my training, and had a huge effect on my confidence. I wanted to do well in the road running leagues, this year, but I knew that realistically, I wasn’t as prepared for the first Winter League race, the Barrow 6, as I would have liked. My recent parkrun times weren’t as quick as they had been, and based on that pacing, a race predictor gave me a time of 49:06, for a 6 mile race, which is my 10k PB!
I decided that the best way to run this race would be to be sensible; relax, and set out to enjoy the run, as I clearly wasn’t going to be at my best. It was especially so, as on the preceding Thursday, I’d woken up with another whooshy head; great, another cold! Consequently, I didn’t really take it easy on the Saturday, on our trip to the capital to watch Leicester City take on Spurs in the FA Cup. The game also required some post-match celebratory drinks. Oops.
The morning of the race was bright, and sunny. It was cold, too cold for me, but it was forecast to warm up. Still not enough for me! I was brave, and left the gloves, and hat/headband, at home, but I couldn’t brave it without leggings, long sleeves, and a neck warmer. As I warmed up, somewhat half-heartedly because I didn’t intend to push it, I felt stiff, and achy. On the plus side, I didn’t have “Phantom Wee Syndrome”, proving it IS a psychological condition, and not caused by too many fluids!
I wasn’t sure sure where to place myself at the start, and I didn’t recognise too many faces. I’d lost The Bloke, but I wasn’t worried, as I knew I’d see him at the end. I chatted with my mates, Ali and Sam, as we waited. We were moved forward onto the road, but there was some confusion around us as to whether the race had started. I was aiming for my chip time, so waited until I crossed the mat before starting my Garmin.
I quickly relaxed into a rhythm, which I guess is easy when looking to run a relaxed race. It was somewhat congested, though, with slower runners, and there was a bit of a bottleneck as the course took a very early turn down a path, off of the road. Once we got into open space, however, the congestion thinned, and overtaking because easier.
Sam was ahead of me, and I was surprised she hadn’t gone off. I was even more surprised that my first mile was sub 8 minute! I hadn’t been getting close to that kind of pace, not for any distance, at least. I was still feeling comfortable, and relaxed, though, and decided to keep going for as long as I could. By now, we ere out in the rolling Leicestershire countryside. The conditions were about right. Every now and then, there was a gust of wind, but on the whole, it about as good as it gets for January.
I noticed that fewer runners were overtaking me up the hills, compared with last year, and I was actually going past a few. This improved my fragile confidence. At the first big descent, I was still behind Sam, but I felt that the pace was too slow, and I ought to be using the hill better. I was a bit worried, because my mate is running brilliantly at the minute, and I shouldn’t have been close, but eventually I decided to take advantage, and I ran past. It wasn’t long before she caught me back up, and eventually went past, but I felt quite comfortable in the middle stages of the race.
The last mile was a toughie; looking at the elevation chart, it shouldn’t have been any different to an earlier hill, but it felt much, much worse.
My lack of fitness began to tell. I honestly thought I was walking, not running up that hill! Thankfully, my Garmin confirms that I wasn’t walking! A couple of runners I’d overtaken, were now going back past me! But I had nothing to give. Not knowing whether to keep my head up or down, I ploughed on, remembering to use my arms. I must have looked ridiculous, but I was determined to get to the top.
I thought that once the road levelled back off, I’d be able to pick up my pace again, but I had a bit of a stitch, and was struggled to run the last couple hundred metres to the finish, which I thought would be on the road outside of Humphrey Perkins school, but was inside the grounds. I tried to sprint finish, and failed miserably, but considering I wasn’t expecting to get anywhere sub 8 min mile pace, I finished with a Garmin time of 47:20! I was absolutely amazed, and shocked! I was told that this might be club Gold standard, but when I got home and checked, I needed a time of 47:15 – gutted! Was it taking too long to use that earlier downhill, or the big hill at the end that cost me those 6 seconds? Maybe I should be pleased that even though I’ve not had the best preparation, and I wasn’t feeling my best, I still ran a fairly decent time, and exceeded my expectations. I’d like to think that the next 6 mile race will be better, but I’ve been warned that the Kibworth 6 has much worse hills. Damn.
My chip time ended up being 47:21. I finished 395th out of 667 runners, and was 75th female out of 253. I also calculated I was 32nd (out of 143) vet woman, and 13th (out of 46) in my age group. I think I scored for the West End Runners vets team. More importantly, I finished ahead of The Bloke. *winks*
I can take from this a few positives; I know there’s more to come, and can’t wait until I’m fully fit again, as there should be lots of improvements to come. Running relaxed, and without any pressure, really does help, but I have no idea what the right balance between pushing myself, and taking it is would be. Maybe, I’m doing my usual thing, and overthinking things. The next race is Markfield 10k, then I have Coventry Half. Once I can finally shift these bugs, I can focus on some good quality training, preferably including hill work!