I’d originally entered the Cranleigh 21 in 2008 as preparation for the London Marathon but injury a few days before caused me to miss the race - although I did go along and support in the rain - in the end Sharon blogged about her shorter run that day.
This time I’m not injured and the date fitted in perfectly with my series of long runs prior to the Brighton Marathon in three weeks time. This would be my longest run and then I ease off the long runs (18 miles!! next week, then 12 the week after) going into Brighton.
My plan for today was not to run the 21 miles at race pace, as although I should be capable of doing so I don’t want to ‘run my best race in training’ - the plan was to run slower than marathon pace for the first 15 miles and then step things a bit in the final 6 mile ‘loop.’
My plan was to run the first 15 miles at around 7:30 pace or quicker. I set off a little quick (first mile in just over 7 minutes, and the second mile not much slower) and then settled down a bit. For some reason my GPS watch decided to go a bit nuts and after 5 miles it was beeping mile splits a quarter of a mile too early! It seemed to settle down after then which was good.
The 13.1 mile (half marathon) marker was crossed in around 1:36:45 (which is 3:13:30 marathon pace) - or 7:23 miling. At around 15 miles I ran for a few minutes with Danny, who was warming down after a fantastic run in the 15 mile race (running alongside the 21 miler). I then turned onto the final loop where I had planned to step things up a little more…
During the final 6 miles I stepped up the pace and looking at the post-run data I ran round at 7:06 miling - which is pretty much what I wanted to do. I won’t say it was particularly easy (the route is certainly not flat) but I pushed hard and did what I wanted. I crossed the finish line in approximately 2 hours 34 and 13 seconds.
For those interested nutrition wise I probably had a total of one small plastic cup of water during the run (these plastic cups are a nightmare to drink from when running) and I had three energy gels. On race day I’ll probably have four or five gels on the run and certainly be drinking much more - and whatever energy drink they provide at that.
Out of the 543 finishers of the 21 (and a tiny bit) mile route I was the 71st finisher in a time of 2:34:13. The winner finished in 1:57:51, around 9 minutes faster than second place!
Overall a good morning run - the Cranleigh 21 is an excellent event - it’s dirt cheap to enter (10 pounds for 21 miles!) - a great change of scenery from the usual local long run routes and good to run alongside other people at a similar pace and work on real race simulation nutrition strategy.