As part of the preparation for my first half marathon on the 2nd October I’d scheduled in this challenging 10 mile race through the Leicestershire countryside as it was taking place a handy four weeks earlier.
Looking at race reports for previous stagings of the race with their mentions oh “hill after hill”, “killer hills” etc. didn’t fill me with much confidence going in to the race. I’d never raced this far before with my furthest being the Asics Arden 9 mile race toward the end of June and I’d completed that in 01:08:40.
Despite the new racing distance and challenging course I set myself a goal of 01:15:00 as I’d upped my average weekly mileage by 10 miles and had been training consistently well since the beginning of July.
On the day conditions were my ideal and very similar to the conditions when I ran the Two Castles Run 10k (45:28 PB): light rain and cool.
After using the toilet facilities at Race HQ (Countesthorpe College) I made my way to the start. The race acts as the final fixture in the Leicestershire Road Running League’s summer race series so, gathered at the start, I noticed the large percentage of club runners. In fact there would be only 59 unattached runners amongst the 474 finishers.
Starter’s horn sounds and we’re off!
My first mile is always about settling in to a target race pace and trying my best not to set off too quick. As I’d started in the middle of the pack it meant I had to do a bit of overtaking as I was a bit boxed in. Felt my ankle twinge a bit at 0.5 miles… great! First mile passed by quickly in 07:27.
Miles two, three and four fly by with me completing them in 07:20, 07:25, 07:23 respectively, so easily on target for 75 minutes. It’s at this point I’m hoping I can hold on to this pace while thinking “less than 10k to go”.
Mile five began on quite a steep looking part of the course… and by this point I was noticing that on the uphill sections I’d be overtaking while maintaining position on the downhill sections. Unsure if that’s a good or bad thing? I guess it’s due to the routes I run being rather undulating themselves. Anyway… with this race what goes up must come down and it did… mile 5 complete in 07:18.
I didn’t enjoy mile 6 so much and found it quite tough going… it was only when I noticed I’d run it in 07:12 that I realised why.. need to reign in the pace slightly? I don’t feel too tired… and then I noticed at the 10k point that I had almost matched my 10k PB of 46:28… the Garmin said 46:30… just 2 seconds out. That extra training is paying off!
Miles seven and eight involved more hills: up and down, up and down, up and down. They passed by in 07:22 and 07:38. By the time mile eight was drawing to a close I’d found myself in a bit of a race no-mans land with nobody close behind and other runners quite a way in the distance.
Mile 9 was pretty much downhill all the way and I was beginning to feel very confident of smashing my target – I kept telling myself I only had two miles to run and picturing where I’d be on one of my local routes and working out how slowly I COULD run and still finish in 75 minutes. Anything to pass the time eh? Mile 9 took just 07:05.
The start of the final mile was uphill but I felt I had plenty left so powered up the hill knowing it was the last one. By this point I was overtaking quite a few runners which gave me more confidence.
When I finally reached the top of the last hill it was a great relief to know there was just 0.6 miles remaining – I was knackered. A little further down the road and there were supporters which perked me up a little as it meant the end was close.
The race finishing straight was on a grassy field and I tried to give it a little kick at the end to finish. I finally cross the finishing line line and stop my watch: it read 01:13:40 (!!) I was delighted with that and went to collect a bottle of water and my goody bag which included a John Fraser 10 branded flask as a memento. A nice touch.
Official finishing time: 01:13:43 (PB)
Very happy with my finishing time and I think I’ll be back again next year as I enjoyed the route very much. The ups aren’t too demanding and I think the downhill sections make up for them.