I've just got back from this race, and while I wait for the water to heat up for my bath I'm writing down my thoughts about the race and how it went.
First, I went into this race with it in mind as a training run for MK marathon. My aim was to run at 9 min/mile pace and not to get dragged into a race with myself.
I'd planned to wear my water carrier backpack and treat it as a proper training run, but on the day the weather was really lovely, plus as we drove to the car park I spotted they had bottles of water at the water stations, so I decided to leave the back pack in the car and run with just my gel belt. I was a bit unsure whether to wear long tights and my long-sleeve top, because the course looked very open and I suspected a cold wind could whip across and make the whole thing quite unpleasant. After much discussion with Kate and Ralph, I went with my short sleeve top and 3/4 tights, with gloves (because I'm a miserable sod when my hands are cold).
Began to regret the lack of long sleeves and long tights as we walked to the start, because it was a bit windy, but I had my gloves and decided as long as my hands were warm I'd be OK. Set off down quite a narrow lane, and I knew I was doing OK/it was a bit crowded because I was still running with my friend Ralph after a third of a mile ;) Had to stop to re-tie my shoelace, so then I was at the back and playing catch up. Managed to maintain about an 8:50 pace and it felt very comfortable, so I carried on like that thinking that I could slow down if I needed to.
Before the race, the course had been described as very hilly, "comprising three hills", which we would run up twice. After the first "hill" I began to wonder just how difficult the other two were going to be, since I'd hardly noticed it. The second hill was a touch harder, and reminiscent of that hill during Flitwick 10K when you run through the wooded bit. If you've run Flitwick you'll know what I mean. Anyway, it wasn't as bad as that one, although it was definitely hard. Possibly as hard as the Baldock 10k/Ashwell half hill, but steeper, but not as long. If you get what I mean. It was definitely a hill. But not a Northern hill.
I'm going to shut up about the hills now.
At mile 6, and again at mile 8, just as I re-entered Folksworth to start the second loop, I managed an 8 minute mile, and I was quite surprised at how comfortable it felt. I decided I'd try to run sub 9 min/mile if I could for the second loop, a good marathon test. And I did manage it, although I needed a slower mile up that big hill again. Anyway, all good.
The marshals were excellent, very cheerful and providing excellent vocal support, and one lady had jelly babies, which I thought was a very nice gesture (I took one!). I think this is one of the best races I've ever run, from an organisation perspective. The race HQ was in an infant school, and we used the classrooms as changing rooms. We got a bright orange T-shirt at the finish, and a bottle of water and a choice of chocolate bar or cereal bar. Superb! (I took a snickers because it's "healthy", it's got nuts in it!).
I can't remember what else I was going to write. Oh yes, I met my twitter friend David (@tuffers3) before the start, which was really great, we've been virtual friends for ages now so it was fab to finally meet. Also, big thanks to Ralph for driving us to the race, and for the homemade brownie :) Ralph finished in 1:51 something, and Kate was bang on 2 hours. And I finished in 2:08:23, average 8:36 pace :)
I might finally admit openly to my sub-4 hour marathon ambition.