This is a local race for us, Salisbury being only about 20 minutes away. Until recently, it's been a quiet, market town with a lovely Cathedral, but in recent times it's been the centre of world news, which makes all of us who know it shake our heads in disbelief, it just seems so unlikely that it could be caught up in the world of Russian spies, assassination attempts and chemical weapons poisonings.
Anyway, the Salisbury 10 is a super race run along the river valley and back with about 900 competitors. Race places go quickly as it's popular and part of the Hampshire Road Race League, so it attracts a lot of fast club runners. This year, I got in by buying my ticket on facebook from a lady who was injured and M got a last-minute place last week from a friend, who is also injured.
It was cold when we arrived, but in the way of perfect running weather- about 9 degrees with soft rain falling. A big improvement on last year when it was burning hot and I over-cooked it and found it really hard work. This year, I am much fitter and was confident it would go better because of the endurance running I've been doing.
I broke all the rules of racing by wearing my new New York Skyline running skort for the first time (ordered from America because, so far, British running kit manufacturers do largely black and boring). Luckily, it was oh so comfy to run in. I also had my club t-shirt, with the normal-for-me hat and gloves that everyone teases me for.
The start had moved to the fire station and it was already busy when we arrived. We spotted lots of friends from our club, from work, parkrun and other fellow clubs, so it was all very sociable. I wasn't sure whether I was reassured or disconcerted by the police presence. For what is a small, local race it was unexpected to say the least, but I guess the security forces aren't taking any chances. I did amuse myself for a while imagining a Russian Assassin disguised in running kit clocking a ten mile race through quiet, rural villages in order to blend in with the scenery before carrying out his hit....
We dropped our bag off at the theatre next to the fire station, had a quick trot round to warm up then we were off. M shot off ahead, of course and I stayed steady somewhere in the middle of the field, trying hard to keep to 5:45-6:00 minute kms, with the marathon very much in mind.
I didn't much enjoy the first 3-4 miles, it takes me that long to warm up and they are usually hard work, but once I'd done them, successfully combatting the this isn't much fun, why don't you stop and walk for a bit, or even maybe go home? irritating voices that can rattle round in your head while running sometimes, I got into my stride and the miles began to flow away.
I fell in with Colin about 4.5 miles in and we ran the rest of the way together, chatting about life, our dogs and the world in general and of course running. I have made some lovely (if brief!) friendships on races. People are so generous at these events, all looking out for and looking after one another, it's one of the things I really like about runners and races. We were well-matched pace-wise and kept each other company along the long stretches of tarmac and up the couple of hills in the second half so that, with a steady stream of conversation, the miles passed by without me really noticing. As a consequence, my pace was good- not too fast, but not too slow either, and I had energy left over for a sprint to the finish.
I could hear Lovely Bex, our hugely supportive and enthusiastic club captain, yelling me on as we came onto the footpath that led to the finish. There was a lady ahead wearing a jacket and I suggested to Colin we picked up the pace to catch her, but I think I had a bit more left in the tank than he did so I went ahead, over took her, then caught up with the next lady ahead before crossing the line in a little over 1:30 hours, which I was very happy with. I felt tonnes better than last year and pleased that I'd run a better race all round.
There were surprise visitors at the finish - two camels! And a nice t-shirt, medal and goody bag with banana, a selection of Dorset Teas, muscle rub and a brownie sports bar included. The race organisation was excellent and the marshals were a super-friendly, super-organised and supportive bunch. It was a really nice morning out. Top Marks, Salisbury AC, for a fantastic event!
Hope you're all having a lovely weekend.