Well this is a first for me - again! Posting a race report on the day of the race... It's snow in July I tell you...
I really took this race seriously. I ran 11 on Friday and then chilled - did very little yesterday but ensured I carboloaded last night (Irish stew ... mmmm) and, to show how ready I was for the day, I woke up before the alarm. Again - I carboloaded - granola, banana and yoghurt - and a cup of coffee before bundling the kids in the car, dropping them off with mother-in-law, and heading down the road to Stamford. Stamford, in case you didn't know, is just gorgeous. They film costume dramas here, the town is so beautiful. Unfortunately, the school where the race started, was clearly NOT the location of a costume drama. More gritty inner city indie movie set. However, the tone for the day was POSITIVE as just before I left Susan - the wonderful - had updated her FaceBook status to say she had gone into labor. So I was just thinking of her all the time leading up to the race, thinking of the incredibly hard work she was doing and just sending her the best vibes I could find. It made time pass as we waited in a gymnasium while the wind and occasional rain swept by outside. The gym was filled with club runners and, to be honest, I felt a little bit alone and left out while everyone was chatting to their clubmates. But I got a grip, don't worry.
As soon as the race started I had the familiar experience of everyone whooshing past me. I knew this was a really tough race, very hilly for almost the entire length, so I took it really easy. My osteopath had warned me that the first 4 miles were deceptively easy - the rest was hard. I knew the key was pacing, and just coping with the hills. It was all made easier by the beautiful countryside - we ran through some beautiful villages (Little Casterton) and the fields along the lanes were beautiful - and still snow-covered. The hills made themselves known pretty quickly - they just kept on coming. But to my great pleasure I was able to cope with them and power up them quite happily. I tried to time every mile (a bit tricky as the course was marked in KMs, very unusual in this totally unmetric country) but would forget. I could see, though, that I was coming in around 9 minute miles for most miles which was better than I was hoping for. Now I know that received wisdom is that you don't run training races at race pace. But personal experience is that I do need to test myself prior to a big race in order to see what I can do, and what I can keep up. So I decided to try to hit the 9 minute mile mark and if the wheels came off, that would be something to learn and take with me into the rest of the training cycle and the race itself.
Until about mile 9 I was feeling very happy, and right about the half-way point I could myself getting tired. I hadn't drunk any sportsdrink before the race and was beginning to regret this but just in time there was an aid station with sportsdrink. Around 10M I latched onto a group of 3 club runners who were running a 9 minute mile pace and to my great delight I was keeping up with them. We bantered backwards and forwards and made the time pass and took turns leading the group. This was the first time decent runners have ever drafted behind me - it was quite amazing for me! Particularly as I was leading the charge up the hills - I didn't think I was good at them! I could see that I was close to 9 minute miles but by 18M I could also see I was just off the pace for a 2:42.. And the last .66 of the mile was awful. I could see the school we left from but was horrified to realise that this was not where the finish was. To get the full 30K in (or 18.66 miles) they had set up a great big circuit on the playing fields behind the school. It was unbelievably hard to run round this very muddy and wet pitch with the finish line in view the entire time. But finally, I ran her in. At 2:48:33. Which makes my overall pace about 9:01 per mile. Which is AMAZING, given that I a) don't normally run that fast and b) the hills! The hills!
The promised showers afterwards were unbelievably terrible - they were dirty and there was NO water pressure - the tiny amount of water just trickled out - but I was pleased not to have to drive home sweatily..
In true family-style I walked into our house tired and triumphant to be greeted by a crisis from my 8 year old - since resolved - but hey, that's what running mothers have to deal with. And as of this morning (US time) the ranks of the running moms have swollen by at least one - baby Isaac Roy arrived safely and the lovely Susan, Chasen and Isaac are all doing well. I won't post a picture - that's Susan's privilege - but I can't tell you how thrilled I am. My race shirt for the day will be washed and posted to the little runner-to-be - hopefully he'll be joining his mother on the road soon!
Till soon my friends - run strong!