My relationship with this race is not great. I ran the 10 mile in 2012, wimped out of starting in 2013, had a nightmare at the 2014 20 mile race and yet somehow I found myself at the start line again this morning. Given that my marathon training had been put on hold following my tumble at the end of January, and the fact that my foot is still not fully healed I couldn't help but think that running 20 miles was a foolish endeavour. But I'd paid my entry fees and I hate wasting money. This is the only 20 mile race I have ever run, so I knew I could run 10min/mile pace and still get a PB. That is what I intended to do - nice and easy.
We had a bit of a FetchEveryone meet up before the race. Cup of tea, gossip, proper loos - that sort of thing and then made our way a couple of hundred meters down the road to the start at Bramley Primary School. There were hundreds and hundreds of runners! It seemed a much bigger field than in previous years and as such there were loads of people I knew there but didn't get to see in the crowd. It took well over a minute to cross the start line - so just as well there was chip timing.
My pacing plan went out of the window as soon as I started running. I felt as though I was taking it easy but was running close to 8min/mile pace. Not sustainable, given my current level of fitness! I slowed down, started chatting to people around me. And there were plenty of people around me - I hadn't remembered it being this busy the year before. The water stations were frequent and the marshals friendly and the miles ticked by. As we approached the 10 mile mark I decided I wanted to run on my own for a while. I was aware that running and talking was stopping me from listening to any niggles that my foot was giving me. At 10 miles all the 10 mile runners finish - which is an obvious statement I know, but it means that you are running alongside runners who are sprinting towards the finish line. This, coupled with the slight downhill at this point, makes it very hard not to pick up the pace - which would be a really silly idea as there are still another 10 miles to go!
I got to the 10 mile mark in about 1hr 29 mins - only 3 minutes slower than my PB, and made the decision to keep on running. I ran past the bus shelter where I'd had a little sob last year and felt OK. The roads were much clearer now - this is, I suppose, why I don't remember it as a busy race, because the second half isn't! Although I had dropped my pace a little, this second half felt as though it was faster, I think I'd got into the flow and the mile markers seemed to come round quicker. It is all in the mind I know - but it did seem as though it wasn't taking long.
At around 14 miles there was a warning shout from a runner behind me about a car. I was hugging the verge, but a great big, shiny, black Range Rover was right on top of me. I tapped on his window and had stern words with him as I ran along side him! I was polite - but I am sure he is in no doubt that I have a very low opinion of idiots who drive aggressively when there are runners around! I got a cheer from the other runners - and one of them pointed out that if I could carry on a conversation while running alongside a Range Rover then I wasn't putting enough effort into my running!
At 15 miles my lack of training kicked in. The slope that had seemed so easy at 6 miles was sapping my strength at 16m, but I WOULD NOT give up. The last 5miles were a testament to mind over matter. I remember a PTI from my TA days who would always say 'Your mind gives up long before your body is ready to stop' but today I proved him wrong. My mind is way more stubborn than my body and stopping was not an option. I was even beginning to regret stopping at the water stations. I can't walk and drink (let alone run and drink) from an open cup, and I'd not brought a water bottle with me - so I stopped at each station. Now I could see that this time was wasted time and would mean that there was no way I could get a sub 3hr time. I was still on course for a PB though (previous time was 3:27:39) so I'd have to be content with that.
With 1.5 miles to go I passed a young man walking up a hill - I grabbed his arm and dragged him up the hill with me! Managed to hustle a couple of people along like this. This was the only bit of the second lap that seemed longer than the first. The finish line took forever to materialise, but when I saw it I put on a burst of speed in sheer desperation for this to be over! I finished in about 3hrs 1minute.
Once I'd staggered through the finish handed over my timing chip and collected my goody bag I made my way to the Fetch gathering, where our wonderful hostess (who had herself completed the 10 mile race) was kind enough to undo my shoe laces so that I didn't have to bend over! She also furnished us with many cups of tea, chilli con carne, jacket potatoes and cakes. It really does make the race extra special to meet up with such lovely people afterwards.
As to the race bling, hmm, Husbando described it as an ashtray! A little metal dish thing. Not sure about it to be honest. I like a medal :-)