Monday, 5 March 2012

Twenty (6.2 miles too short)

A fellow 'Fetchie' described the Essex 20 course as flat with definite PB potential.  He was right about the PB (as I'd not done a 20 mile race before) but he was wrong about the flatness!

The course (not flat)
I'd call the Essex 20 course all sorts of things. On Sunday it was wet, cold, windy, undulating, and at times rolling but definitely not very flat.  No matter though as I had thought about the possibility of a few lumps and in a perverse way I quite like running up hills.  The race was three laps of the the Langham 10k course (which 'apparently' also has PB potential).  I've only done one other lapped race so this was going to be something a bit different for me.

My plan was to run the first 10k at about 9:30-9:45 pace, the second at 9:00 and the last at 8:15-30(ish).  The logic was just to treat it like a long run, not get too carried away by the 'race', get some miles on the clock and not ruin my legs.  Like many of my runs I didn't quite stick to the plan and I knew that was the case but until about five minutes ago I didn't realise quite how far off the plan I was.  I've just looked at my 'auto' split times from my Garmin which clearly isn't overly accurate and seems to knock of a few feet of each mile. I've noticed this at races before and its a bit frustrating to hear it beep for a mile when you're 100m from a marker post.  Anyway - according Garmin I did 20.25 miles and the last 'lap' was at 7:14 pace. The rest of the laps look like this.

1 - 9:04,  6 - 8:45,  11 - 8:50, 16 - 8:25
2 - 8:34,  7 - 8:48,  12 - 8:18, 17 - 9:26
3 - 9:12,  8 - 8:22,  13 - 8:31, 18 - 9:32
4 - 8:46,  9 - 8:28,  14 - 8:25, 19 - 8:40
5 - 8:50, 10 - 8:37, 15 - 8:35, 20 - 8:32

What does all that tell me? Well for one I'm not great at pacing myself but I knew that already. Second it tells me that I can run at about 8:30 - 8:45 pace for quite a long way and I kind of knew that too.  So I guess the most important lesson was that even running at quite a conservative pace hurts after about 14 miles and after 17 it really starts to hurt.  And I have to remember feeling and get the old bod ready for it and stop skiving off my long runs. Quite probably I also need to mix it up a bit more with some faster paced runs or speed work. Since my shin problems I've really held back from running 'hard'.

Crispin Bloomfield
At about mile 13 (I think) I got lapped by the race winner Paul Molyneux from Springfield Striders.  Instinctively you would have thought that being lapped would be a pretty crap experience but actually it was inspiring to actually see the race leader (even if he did pass me as if I was walking).   I worked out he did about 5 minute 25 pace all the way around!  Later on I got overtaken by Crispin Bloomfield (pictured) from Billericay Striders and winner of loads of other races I've done in the past.  I've never met Crispin but I felt the need to give him a bit of a yell which he acknowledged with a little thumbs up.  That tiny moment distracted me for the next few miles as I reflected (again) on how even an elite runner could acknowledge the existence of others but not some bloke on Maldon By-pass*.

Other stuff 
After looking at the forecast my 'support crew' decided that three hours standing around in 6 degrees and heavy rain was not their idea of fun and would stay at home - I can't really blame them. So I was alone and feeling very 'unattached' with all the club runners everywhere.  There's something great a looking out for supporters as your plodding away and that was missing from Sunday's run.  I wont deny the last mile was tough, I'd been running just in front of one guy for ages - 6-7 miles and in that last mile he just went past me, but I tried to up the pace a bit and give it a bit of a last push.  As I approached the finish I could see this little boy who was about the same age as my son waiting with his mum for someone to come past.  But there, just beyond them was another little chap who actually was my son standing with his mum waiting for me. After 20 miles surprises like that are emotional.  

* p.s. thanks for your comment Doug if you read this

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