Sunday, 6 February 2011

Great Bentley Race Report - 06/02/11

This was my second race of the year and I was hoping for a 2nd PB. I ran this last year in 1:39:32 and my Half Marathon PB was set at Bristol last September in 1:36:21. Having done a good PB at Benfleet last month, I felt I was in better shape than last year and so set myself a minimum target of a course record so 1:39:30, my mid target was a new PB so 1:36:20 and my top end was sub 1:35:00.

My prep for the race was similar to last year. Instead of Soph & Lauren for company and an Indian and Beers, it was Dominos Pizza and Beer with Hayley, Tom and Lauren. Lauren was impressed when I stopped at two pints, but we then spent the evening dancing around on the wii and I went home, tired, hot and sweaty. But had a great day.

I had forgotten to print myself out a paceband for 1:35 and so wrote them on a scrap of paper. I had the pacings for 1:35 and 1:38. The maths for 1:35 isn't too complicated, being 7min 15secs miling, but it's nice to have the timings as a comfort blanket when the head is spinning after 10 miles.

So on to race day, and me and Lauren were up at 8 and out the door before 9 ready to get to Great Bentley with plenty of time to spare. Got there about half 9, grabbed my number and timing chip and used the facilities and said goodbye to Lauren just after 10.

I'm not a big warmer upper or stretcher so I just mooch around and try to stay warm. The organisers had us all set a couple of minutes before kick off, and right on half 10 we were off! I got myself fairly near the front, but unfortunately got boxed in and had to go up on the pavement, I let the offending woman run past me, she then promptly swiped her left arm on the wing mirror of a near by van. That will teach her!

90 seconds into the race my lace came undone, shocker! Half an hour to prepare and I can't even do my shoes up properly! Pulled over and dealt with it, made an effort not to get wound up by the lost 15 seconds or so and carried on regardless. Even with the delay I went through the 1st mile in 7:16, then clicked through miles 2 and 3 10seconds ahead of my 1:35 schedule. I felt good, there was a decent wind and that made life hard, particuarly on the exposed parts of the course. But the course is beautifully flat, quiet and rural. An added bonus was this year the farms were much less stinky!

By mile 4 I had lost the 10second advantage but was still on 7:15 min miles. The frantic start had now settled down and there were a lot of familar vests and faces so I settled in behind a guy in a Braintree Vest with a Leeds United tattoo on his neck. Nice! There was a loose group of 5 or 6 that I ran with for large parts of the first 8 or 9 miles. Braintree went off after about 6 miles, but I then tagged onto a group of 3 who were going at my pace and stayed with them till about mile 10.

I had been running very consistently through the first 9 miles and was on pace for my 1:35. But it was at the 10 mile marker that I had suddenly appeared to slip 45seconds off. I think it was a long mile, but the wind had picked up and the few inclines that are on the course come during this period. I took it steady through the next mile, and then around 11 miles I was passed by a guy in a Navy Addidas top and we then ran stride for stride over the next 2 miles. We didn't speak or decide this is what we were doing, but he really helped me pick up the pace, and we took over a dozen or so runners during the later stages and I felt 1:35 was back on the cards.

I got to the 13 mile mark leaving myself 40 seconds to run the last 160 metres, I did my best impression of a sprint finish, passing addidas and two other runners as we ran over the grass to the finish. But as I hit the finish line, close to chucking, I looked down at my watch to see 1:35:05! Offical time is now in at 1:35:04 so I just missed out on my sub 1hr 35 min run. But a PB of over a minute and a 4 minute improvement on last year leaves me very happy with my race.

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