After my downbeat blog after last weeks Saltburn Half Marathon I am very happy to report much better times at the Test Track 10. This is a local race, one I haven't done previously, it's at the Ford centre and is around the test tracks and surrounding support roads. There is quite a bit using the banking, think a cycling velodrome, but we ran along the bottom so it wasn't too steep, there was the occasional incline, one of which was pretty brutal, but it was generally flat and the weather was not far from perfect, a little wind but nothing too great, all in all my kind of event.
Lauren and I got there just after half 8, an hour before the race start, lots of parking, race start very close by, so we could relax in the car before getting out for the race. I managed to drop and then lose one of my safety pins and so had to go for the three pin formation. The number did stay on this time though, unlike at Saltburn last week. I also managed to get GPS signal and get my heart rate monitor working before the go. I decided to skip the warm up, aerobics and co-ordination really aren't my specialism. We lined up and I was in the second row and we were off. It was fun to be in the front group, maybe in 10th and it wasn't for 100 metres but probably the first 500 metres before I decided this was far too fast for me so eased back. I haven't felt in a race like that, probably since me and Luke nearly lead into the first corner at Bromley parkrun.
I went through the first Kilometre in 4:08 my pre race target had been 4:30-4:40 (1:12 - 1:15 finish time)I felt good and was keen to get some time in the bank. My 10 Mile PB was 1:12:05 and so 4:30's were really the top end of where I wanted to be. The km's ticked on 4:12, 4:19, I was working hard and got to see Lauren. The looped nature of the course meant I got to see lots of Lauren over the 10 miles, it was a really nice little pick me up every 2 or 3 miles. 4:15, 4:18, 4:15 got me through 6km's just over 90 seconds up on 4:30 pace, probably a little too much, but I like to race hard. There were runners around me throughout the race, maybe not right on my shoulder but definitely close by, a nice change from the lonely desolate run along the cliffs last week.
I looked down at my watch half way through the 7th kilometre and realised the early pace had gone, and we were in my regular mid-race holding pattern. 4:30 now became the target pace in the hopes the time in the bank from that early burst would be protected. 4:32, 4:36, 4:25, 4:29, 4:31, 4:33, 4:31, 4:34 gets us to 14km. All look nicely paced, slightly different profiles and some wind with some wind against. What those splits don't show is I was working really hard, particularly the one decent incline on the course as you came down towards the finishing straight you turned right and round one of the banked sections. It was steep and both times I ran it, my body was screaming to have a walk up it, but I managed to keep turning my legs over and running it. Once you reached the top there was a nice downhill section then onto the finish straight which let me recover. As I went past the start/finish line with 2km to go I felt the beginnings of a stitch, and where I had been smiling and waving at Lauren each time I saw her, at this point I was really grimacing. I felt if I could just hold it together a PB should be on, but if I started to fall apart the time I had gained early on would soon evaporate.
The 15th km split was 4:41, I was clinging on, there was another banked section and I took over a couple of back markers, it was hard because you had to go up the banking and work hard to get past them. As I entered the last km and then the final straight I was overtaken by a small group of runners, that was a big help and gave me a little kick to get moving again. I wasn't racing them for position but trying to use them to spur me on for a sprint finish and to ensure the PB. Coming into the finishing chute I knew the PB was mine and as I looked down to stop my Garmin I was well inside 1:11 for the race and a final split of 4:11. The official time has me at 1:10:36 and 35th out of 287 runners a PB by 1 minute 29 seconds! I have worked really hard for the last 5 months and today was the first big dividend. If I can keep working hard, this should be the first of many PB's over the rest of 2017. The only slight blemish on an otherwise perfect race was the negotiation needed to get out of the carpark. The race had quietened down but the Marshalls were keen to keep us penned in for another hour for every last runner to finish. Thankfully they relented and we were safely on our way out and headed home before a cracking Birthday Roast dinner at my parents house.