Kenley 10k 2015

If you have read my blog about this run last year you might wonder why on Earth I went back to run this again, having not really enjoyed it that much, but truth is, this is one of the only normal 10k runs I have ever done, and it’s nice and flat, and what I really wanted was to use it as a bench mark to see how much, if at all, I had improved my running in the last year.

Race Description

Like last year this race is a run around Kenley Airfield, which is a 3km loop. You run three laps round the loop, with a final kilometre around to a war memorial where you finish.

Very cold waiting to start
Very cold waiting to start

It was really cold, with puddles of ice on the ground, but thankfully not quite as windy as the previous year and without the drizzle. The organisers gave a quick explanation of the race, and then we were off.

The Race

We set off and I was looking to beat 56 mins from the year before, and hopefully the 53 mins that I had run in Ashford a few weeks ago. Unfortunately I had been suffering some stupid injury niggles over the past few weeks so I wasn’t too hopeful. I started off near the front and got swept up with the fast runners, so I set off a bit too quickly, but I soon settled into a more sustainable pace for me.

The first kilometre seemed to fly by, but the run wasn’t any more interesting than last time, the difference being that this time I was mentally prepared for this. For the first lap and a half my feet felt like concrete as they failed to warm up, but eventually the blood flow returned and running got a bit more comfortable.

Running one of the three laps round the airfield
Running one of the three laps round the airfield

Three laps round and with 1km to go, a girl I had been yo-yoing with, but that I had been holding off, finally overtook me, and despite only wanting to beat my own time my little competitive streak kicked in and I started to push a bit harder, then as the war memorial that served as the finish line came into view I gave it everything I had left, overtook her and finished strong.

Desperately trying to unlock my phone and stop my tracker to see my time, I grabbed my medal (which had been improved slightly over last years) and finally looked at how I had done – 51 mins. Absolutely delighted, 5 whole mins off last years time, I had done it, objective achieved.

Finished
Finished

Despite only going out there to beat my time, I was interested in where I had come. Last year the results were split into male and female and I had come 12th girl, this year the results have been published overall with no way to tell where you are in your gender unfortunately, however since I started right at the front, from what I counted and from what I was told by spectators I think I managed 4th or 5th girl (I was 62nd overall). At the end of the day, your position depends more on who else shows up, it was the time I went out there for, and I am really proud of how I have improved in the last year, I may still not be very fast, and I probably never will be, but I can keep trying to be better than I was, and that’s all that matters to me anyway.

Despite finding this race dull, I will probably go back again if I get the chance, you never know, one day I might just manage a sub 50min 10km!

 

The Eliminator Race

Early on a cold Saturday morning in February I found myself donning my race kit and heading out the door to once again face the hills of Pippingford Park. I had been asked by a lovely lady from RPCC to run a race with her, and I agreed to sign up to the 10 mile option of the Eliminator race. Unfortunately the lady I was supposed to be running with picked up an injury and couldn’t race, but there was a still a reasonable sized group of RPCCers making the trip to run either 5 or 10 miles.

RPCC crew before the race
RPCC crew before the race

Race Description

The Eliminator race is a trail run with only natural obstacles, there was a 5 or 10 mile option on the Saturday, and a full marathon option on the Sunday. Having raced a few times at Pippingford before I knew this was going to be very hilly and testing terrain, and not your average 10 mile run (not that I often pop out for a 10 mile jog!) It was very cold waiting at the top of the hill, and I was very grateful for my dry robe and Dirty Dozen bobble hat. We were there really early and hung around drinking tea and watching the kids race (and taking a few selfies – since that’s what we do). Eventually though it was time to get ready to race, the dry robes were reluctantly removed and we headed to get warmed up.

RPCC super selfie
RPCC super selfie

The Race

We set off down a hill, before swiftly being taken up the other side of the valley,  then after what felt like a long and slow slog to the top of the hill it was through the first bit of icy water, with shards of ice floating around and hidden logs submerged below the surface.

Coming up to the top of the first hill
Coming up to the top of the first hill

As the race wound up and down killer hills I found myself “playing tag” with a few people that I knew, so although running by myself I never felt on my own. As we splashed through yet another section of water I noticed that my friend Graeme Harrison was behind we, with a photographer up ahead so we grabbed a quick hug in the water for a photo before carrying on.

Mid race hugs
Mid race hugs

Every so often I would come across a marshal or spectator that I knew and the encouraging shouts (and high five from Mark Leinster) helped keep my running, as well as Graeme, Dave Cartwright and Ben Sallows who were all running near me for most of the race for a kind word.

As the mile markers slowly trickled passed, with more and more hills to navigate, some which almost had me crawling, trees to clamber over, weave round and crawl under, water to wade through and an amusing moment when I climbed over a gate, following the person in front of me, when it swung open with me sat on top of it, I was feeling tired and a few little injury niggles started to make themselves felt.

Under the bridge
Under the bridge

As we reached the final mile, the course was mostly through a wooded section that reduced running to a slow jog as you tried to navigate safely, and it felt like the longest mile in the world. Eventually you came across a marker saying 10 miles, this was the most demoralising marker in the world, I was only supposed to be running 10 miles, how much further was it going to be? Thankfully not much!

They were not going to make it easy to finish though, with a long slog up a hill to reach the finish line, I found myself walking most of this, despite my best efforts telling myself to run. Then Graeme was beside me again urging me to give a strong finish, and together we ran the final stretch of the hill to the finish line to collect our medals.

Finishing
Finishing

 

The Eliminator was one tough race, the cold and terrain taking their toll as you ran. It felt like a massive achievement to complete it, and I have so much awe and respect for the people who went out the next day to run the full marathon distance.

Cheeky after selfie with the 10 mile race winner Ross Brackley
Cheeky after selfie with the 10 mile race winner Ross Brackley

It was a privileged to then watch as my other friends finished the race, all having given their all and completed the tough course. With lots of hugs at the finish, and then finally heading back home for the longest bath I’ve ever taken to get warm again.

Caught unawares giving Tayla Playford a well deserved hug at the finish.
Caught unawares giving Tayla Playford a well deserved hug at the finish.

 

Ashford and District 10K

Having planned to take a bit of a break this year, I found myself with two weekends off after completing the Winter Fan Dance, and incredibly itchy feet. I sat down on the second Sunday night to book a few races in and get some dates on my calendar when I decided to look at what was available the following weekend. What I found was the Ashford and District 10K, which rang a bell, and I remembered a friend had posted something about running it, a few quick messages later and I had a lift, a race, a place to get showered and a lunch date!

Race Description

This 10K race has been voted as one of the best 10km runs in the country a couple of time, set in a fairly rural location, described as undulating, with the last section all down hill. The run was an out and back on closed off country roads kicking off at 11am. This would only be my second road race, everything else I’ve done being OCR or trail. Last February I ran my first (and so far only) 10k road race at Kenley and set a time of 56mins. On this race, with the course being hilly and Kenley being flat, I was hoping to at least equal this time.

Pre-race selfie with Tom Jury and Jac Ginn
Pre-race selfie with Tom Jury and Jac Ginn

The Race

It was a pretty chilly start, with a biting wind, but eventually we were off over the starting mat. I took off and tried to settle into a pace that I thought I could maintain.

It was a pleasant run along country roads, I felt comfortable running, which is unusual for me in the first few kilometres of a race. The first part of the race was up a manageable hill, before a flat section and then heading down a slightly steeper hill that I couldn’t help but thinking “oh no, I have to run back up this”. The course was well marked with each kilometre clearly signposted.

The running was feeling comfortable as I came up to the turn around point, but as I hit about the 6km point I got a horrendous stitch, I didn’t stop though, that 56mins was in the back of my head, I pushed on but a little slower, and eventually the stitch eased, unfortunatly my relief was short lived and at the 8km mark the stitch came back and lasted the rest of the race.

After cresting the hill and carrying along the flat the 9km sign came into view and I tried to pick up the pace. The final part of the race was all down hill, which allowed me to run a little faster despite the stitch from hell. I finished the race with a clock time of 53.46 and when I got home, I found out my chip time was 52.42. With at least 3mins taken off my Kenley time from the previous year I was pleased with that.

Me before and after the race
Me before and after the race

I waited and took myself a finishers photo while I waited for Jac and Tom to finish, then we headed off to warm up, get a shower and go for a well earned Nandos.

Jac and Tom coming in to the finish line
Jac and Tom coming in to the finish line