Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Standalone 10K, 2013

Last Sunday I ran in a local 10K road race, the Standalone 10K, which is organised by North Herts Road Runners. This race is a big one for my running club, Stotfold Runners, because it is our most local race; it passes through our town, we run the route a lot during the year in preparation, and we encourage all our members to take part. I last ran this race in 2011, taking a break in 2012 to recover from a knee injury, so I was really excited to be running it again this year.

The race starts and ends at Standalone Farm in Letchworth, goes through Norton to Stotfold, along the A507, and then past Fairfield Park back to the farm. There are a few hills, the worse one (I think!) is right at the start, so it's not too daunting a course.

The farm was packed when we arrived. Amazingly, I still managed to find my friends before the start! Had some photos with the club (see image), and exchanged some friendly race banter with Ed, whose aim at the beginning of the year was to beat me (mine to stay close to him!)

The race was full, with 1400 runners in total. Apart from the Preston Marathon last year, it's the biggest race I've taken part in. The atmosphere is amazing, so many people together doing the same thing. It's all very emotional *sniff* :-)

I walked to the race start with other members of Stotfold Runners, and I lined up with Ed and another friend just before the 50 minute marker. We didn't want to put too much pressure on ourselves and start at 45 minutes :-) The first section of the race is downhill (about 50 metres!) but we took this slowly because of the number of runners. The first (and biggest) hill is immediately after the start, and again I couldn't run up it quickly because of the number of runners in front of me. (Should've started at 45 minutes.) Followed Ed's example and took to the pavement, dodging spectators and small children. 

Once at the top of the hill I felt OK and tried to maintain some speed, keeping an eye on Ed all the time! At about 3K I sailed past another club friend who I thought was a lot faster than me, he seemed to be taking things easy and was doing a great job of thanking every marshall we passed :-) Had to run over the grimmest roadkill at this point too (splatted squirrel). At the water station at 5K I spotted a friend supporting (it's so nice to see people you know!). I didn't take on water because I was running fine and don't usually take a drink during a 10K.

As we hit the A507 the route narrowed and suddenly everyone in front of me stopped to funnel into the smaller area. I'm not one for being politely English during a race so I took to the grass verge so I could maintain my speed. Unfortunately caught a few nettles on the way, so spent the next 5 minutes cursing myself.

By the end of the bypass, as we turned towards Fairfield Park, the sun came out, the heat rose, and my legs suddenly slowed to nothing. I'd completely run out of energy. I really wanted to walk, but there were so many people spectating that I didn't dare stop in case someone I knew saw me! I kept looking at my Garmin to check my pace, and I was getting upset with myself because I was running at 8:30 min/mile (and I needed at least 8:00). In a big strop I switched the display to heart rate and just decided to grit my teeth and plod home.

The last few K were hard because they are uphill; during training I always tell myself they're not hills, it's just a deceiving view! They were certainly hills today. Spotted the Stotfold Runners banner and The Luxfords supporting at 9K, and I got a bit of a boost here. I knew I was almost finished, and I could hear the announcements at the farm.

At this point the marshalls made us run on the pavement. I wasn't happy with this change because we've never had to run here before, but I think they'd not been able to close the road at the top and it was quite busy. Anyway, that put me off a bit because the pavement is narrow and turns quite sharply. I took the final downhill stretch easy so as not to destroy my knees, then turned into the farm to finish. Tried hard to sprint to the line but it really wasn't happening for me. Finish time: 50:03 (should've kept an eye on the clock rather than my heart rate!)

Plus points: Fastest 10K all year.
Moral: Never Give Up.
Lessons for the future: Focus on longer midweek runs and pre-race nutrition.

And yes, Ed beat me! He got a great PB (48:10) too, so well done him. We grabbed our bananas and T-shirts and headed back to the course to pick up some of the club runners who might need support. I ran-walked with a friend for another 1.5K to get her back in just over 70 minutes (she was very happy).

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