Sunday, 11 May 2014

Alton 10.

I entered this race by mistake!  A few months ago a friend said that the race was full already.  This sounded odd as historically it has been possible to enter on the morning of the race.  So, just to check I clicked through the site and found myself entered in to the race.  Not a problem, I thought, I like this race, it is on my doorstep, why wouldn't I want to enter it?  Well, there was the matter of that little race I ran last week, and the fact that I had a ball, to celebrate the 75th anniversary of my children's school, the night before.

I dithered for a while.  I've run this race every year bar one since 2010.  I missed one year because I had a hurty hip, that year I went along with my camera and took photos - I reckon I must have got a picture of every single runner, it was a lot of fun supporting so many people I know.  This was an option for today.  It was an attractive option, but.... well, I need to run today.  I may have just done a big race but I still have to train for a marathon.  If  was going to have to run I might as well run with lots of other people.

I woke up at about 7am, my calves were tight from dancing in stupidly high heeled (but very lovely) shoes the night before.  I moved my head from side to side - I didn't seem to have a hangover - which was a bonus, so I flexed my calves a bit and went back to sleep, setting the alarm for 9am.  An utter luxury on a race day.  I bravely dressed in shorts and a vest top, deciding that it couldn't really be as cold and windy as the forecast predicted.

I arrived at Eggar's with loads of time to spare, collected my number, checked my bag in, realised that I had forgotten my sweat band, queued for the loo, chatted with friends and made my way to the start line.  This race isn't chip timed, and as the numbers taking part in the race seem to have grown over the years, it was going to take me a while to get over the start line (30 seconds).  I wasn't too worried.  I was aiming for around 1hr 35 to 1hr 45mins so a few seconds lost at the start wasn't a concern.  

For once in my life I started at the pace I intended to start at, and stuck with it.  I'd like to say that this was through choice, but in reality my legs were tired and the thought of running any faster was enough to make me feel a bit sick!  The route was well marshalled, but there were very few supporters out there - more thoughts about this later!  I still have to learn how to drink water from an open cup while running though.  The weather was relatively kind to us.  Drizzle, sunshine and wind.  Lots of wind.  At one point the wind blew my sunglasses off the top of my head.  If I'd been going for a PB I'd have noted where in the field they'd landed and come back later in the day but, as I was just getting round, I thought that losing a pair of Oakley sunglasses was not an option!

I overtook loads of people in the last 2 miles, I hadn't picked up my pace very much at all, just kept going steadily.  I run this route so often, but I always run facing oncoming traffic rather than on the left hand side as mandated by race regulations.  Coming down the last hill I drifted across to the 'normal' side of the road as I came around the bend at the bottom and managed to get myself boxed in by cars that were waiting for runners to pass!   It is always hard to run past the end of my road but there were a few people ahead of me that I thought I could overtake if I pushed a bit harder.  

I was so glad to see the finish line.  It seems to have moved further back as the years have gone on.  I couldn't see the timing clock as I approached the finish so can only go from my Garmin time of 1hr 32 - eight minutes slower than my time last year.   I collected my medal - quite a change from previous years when the medals have all been similar to the one shown here, i.e specific to Alton 10 and with the Alton Runners' club colours on the ribbon.

This is a great little race, although the organisation felt a bit more haphazard than normal this year.  I didn't hear any pre race announcements at all.  It always surprises me that it isn't better supported.  I live in the village the race passes through, but if I wasn't a runner I wouldn't know about the race at all.  And as a village that likes a bit of a fete, has a very active cricket club and so on I am sure that we could get a few more people out to make some noise to support the runners.   We also have quite a few local and not so local businesses that I am sure could be persuaded to provide freebies for goody bags.  I think I've been spoilt by races that, while small in terms of numbers taking part, are big on support and big on medals.

Today is officially the start of my taper for the Kent Roadrunner Marathon - perfect timing for me to get tooth ache!  It wasn't too bad this morning, but has got steadily worse as the day has gone on.  I have to get an emergency dentist appointment in the morning - seems I could be staring in my own remake of the Marathon Man!

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