We were up early to drive to Chichester. It was actually 6:08 but I didn't have the camera with me. All the pre-race prep went smoothly. I had my normal pre-race breakfast of oats and seeds and coconut milk with a drink of water, and remembered to pack a snack for after the race. I even managed to attach the chip timer to my running shoes first time, (something I always worry about doing wrong)....
We were slightly ahead of time picking Brenda up from Romsey. There was no traffic so we arrived at Goodwood at 8:15, with well over an hour before kick off.
It was FREEZING.
The car may say two degrees but with a raw east wind gusting and no shelter it felt like minus fifteen. We sat in the car (me with a blanket over my legs) asking one another what on earth we were doing there. We all revised our clothing choices: Brenda donned a wind cheater, I fixed my number to the front of my body warmer instead of my thermal running top and added a neck warmer, and M kept his thermal long sleeved top on under his racing vest. But he was still wearing shorts. He's a hard man, my husband.
Brrrrr. We retained our sense of humour though....
Anyone with a beard, wait here to be delivered to the start by a marshal....
I hoped the first official outing for the leggings wouldn't be a disgrace. It's hard to hide in them :o)
Eventually, the clock ticked down to 9:15 and (after a quick loo stop) we braved the elements and headed to the start where the end of the mass warm-up was fading out. We bumped into friend Mark and his wife and then the boys headed off to the 35-40 minute markers at the front of the 2000-strong field while B and I headed to the 55-60 minute markers near the back. A sea of peopled stretched ahead and behind...
It was a short walk out of the motor circuit to the mats on the closed main road which signified the official timed start. Here I pressed go on my garmin, hearing the corresponding beep as the chip on my trainers registered with the mat. Mindful of my promise to stick broadly to 6 min/ kms, I trotted dutifully along for the first 6k, pleasingly getting the pace almost exactly spot on. Here are the stats: 6:02; 5:56; 6:01; 5:58: 6:00; 5:53. I thought of you all and took a couple of pics while I was running (a new skill) to show you what running along the country lanes of Sussex with 2000 other people looks like (Parsnip, I thought of you especially because I know you enjoy seeing the photos).
At 6k my knee started to ache and I considered pulling up. There's no point pushing recovery beyond what it's ready to do, and there are plenty of 10k races over the year. Then I remembered some advice I was given by a sports therapist that muscles fatigue when a very even pace is kept on flat terrain for a length of time, and that varying your pace up or down accordingly can give tired muscles a break, because they work differently. Worth a try, I thought, so I picked up my pace to something I'm more comfortable with and ran the final 4k like this: 5:20; 5:20; 5:31: 5:08. The 5:31 in the middle was because we were out on an open section of the Goodwood race circuit by then and running into a strong headwind. It was hard work and I knew it had slowed me down. Surprised by how much though. Miraculously, the ache in the knee disappeared as my pace increased and I also felt happier to be racing and overtaking people, rather than jogging along (I appreciate my faster pace is still a jog to some- my husband, for eg, runs 3:45 min/kms, but we're all different, eh?).
The increased pace meant I was overtaking for those final 4ks, which always gives me a mental boost. Only two guys came past me, and they went sprinting off so I didn't need to worry about keeping up with them. One of them was called Disco Tony, which made me smile. His friend was just called Paul. When I asked him why, he said he had no rhythm. I suggested his next shirt read Running Paul, as he shot off into the distance.
I heard someone call my name and saw friend Mark waving from the sidelines, and then M was there cheering me on to the finish. I waved to them then concentrated on sprinting to the finish, crossing the line two minutes faster than predicted. I felt strong, if slightly sick for a few minutes, but this is normal- it happens when you run too fast for the lactic acid you produce to be got rid of and soon goes when you stop- I just kept walking till it passed. I remember the first time it happened I thought I was going to pass out! M had run well (38 mins) and B had come in two mins ahead of me and was pleased with her performance too, all the more as she's training for London and has been unwell this winter.
Luckily, I had not embarrassed the leggings :o)
So all in all a cracking (if cold) morning out. We were all very glad we'd done it. Next stop, a 10k road race at the end of Feb with a few hills thrown in which I'm intending to run faster than today, all being well. I can't tell you how lovely it feels to be back to middle-distance racing :o) :o) :o) :o) :o)
Hope you're all well and having a good weekend.