During the winter months I managed to avoid all cross country running races for my running club, Ranelagh Harriers. There were a few reasons behind this…
- I didn’t want to injure myself as cross country courses are far from the smooth roads of, er…. roads.
- Saturday afternoon racing (which is when all these races are held) didn’t seem to fit well into my diary.
- Because of the fear of injury and a big race planned (an Ironman race I did in January in New Zealand) I didn’t want to take any more risks here.
So, with the Ironman race behind me and a 17 mile run scheduled as part of my London Marathon training…. and an experiment that the running club were doing by putting the race on a Sunday morning, and the familiar (and just a little bumpy terrain of Richmond Park) I really had no excuses but to take part. As the race is just under 10 miles long I just had to squeeze in a few miles beforehand to make the total up to 17 miles. The plan was for about 14 of these miles to be close to marathon pace (around 7:12 minute miling pace).
I put in about 6.75 miles warm-up before the race and then got into position. As it’s a handicap race everyone sets of at different times (determined by a secret calculation by the club ‘handicapper’) and I felt I had a pretty favourable start time. With about 15 seconds to go Andy B., said to me something like “You’re going to win this if you put in a good run. My money’s on you!”
I set off far too fast (closer to 10k pace rather than 10 mile pace - and I don’t normally do a 6.75 mile hilly warm-up before a 10k) but kept on pushing. Before long I caught up with a couple of runners ahead of me and I was feeling alright. My plan was to push fairly hard and see if anyone overtakes me, and if they do I’d then take stock of the situation and decide what to do next.
Well, about three quarters of the way round the first of two laps I was overtaken by Andy himself. He said he wasn’t expecting to see me so soon (I felt the same) and he was absolutely flying. I didn’t have a hope in hell of keeping up with him.
I completed the first lap (about 4.95 miles) in 33.20 which is around 6:44 miling pace. Hmn, just a touch faster than 7:12 miling (especially on a hilly course). I knew for sure that setting off so fast was going to make thing tough on the second lap and I wasn’t wrong there.
I really had to push harder to maintain any kind of similar pace (which I understandably couldn’t manage after setting off too fast) and my second lap was one minute 50 seconds slower (34:50) with a pace of around 7:02 miling. To be honest I thought I was much slower than that during the second lap so I’m quite positive about the second lap time. Had it been a more important race to me I would have controlled my pacing much better.
With the final results in I finished in 68 minutes 10 seconds and was seventh overall and sixth fastest. I clearly managed to run 14 miles at marathon pace (actually much faster than I should have) which I’m not too worried about.
My next long run is a 21 miler at the weekend where I’ll be pacing this one exactly as planned…