This year I have had to plan my race diary very carefully. I really want to try an increase my medal haul this year, and also run more races in the Warrington Running Club (WRC) colours. As I struggle so much with my shin so,it’s I’ve not been able to commit to too many races as I never know from one week to the next what state I’m going to be in. However at the end of 2015 I booked a few races spread across the year and the first of these was the Mad Dog 10K in Southport on the 7th of Feb. I was encouraged to book it by the members of WRC with the promise of an epic goody bag and brilliant atmosphere. What more could you ask for?
Now I knew this race was going to be popular by how quickly the “I’ve signed up” messages hit the WRC Facebook page. So with a little trepidation I filled in my application form and I was committed. The promise of another medal to add to my very small collection had won me over. With every week that passed more and more WRC members signed up and it was becoming clear there was going to be a large contingent heading up the M57 to Southport from Warrington. It tuned out there were so many of us the club had to hire a 90 seat coach! It was clear that when WRC hit an event they hit it big!
In the week leading up to Mad Dog the weather was not great and I spent each day tracking the various weather apps in the hope that things would improve and I would be running in beautiful late winter sunshine. Alas it was not to be the case. On race day the winds were forecast to be 40 mph plus and with Southport being on the coast, I knew this was going to be a challenge. The start line was relatively sheltered so the delights of the coat road were hidden from us. Cold but (relatively) confident I set off, checking about 12 times that I had started my Garmin (bit of a stickler for the stats). After about 400 metres the course turned left onto Marine Drive and we were met with what felt like a tornado. To say the wind took your breath away was an understatement. The 40mph+ wind was right in our faces for the first 3 miles of the race. Although it felt like it was really slowing me down, I was delighted to see that I was ahead of my target mile splits of 8:51 per mile. This pace would get me home in 55 minutes which was may target for the day. Miles 1, 2 & 3 came in at 8:33, 8:35 and 8:36 respectively, so not only was I ahead of pace, I was running consistent which is something I have struggled with in the past.
After mile 3 the course thankfully reversed and it was down wind all the way home. A collective sigh of relief could be felt as my fellow runners and I turned left at Southport Pleasure Land and the wind was finally at our backs. I set off for home with renewed confidence, but also conscious not to go too fast now the wind was behind me to ensure I didn’t crash and burn in the final miles. The 2nd half of the race took us through Southport and the music along the way and the shouts of encouragement from spectators really helped. The final couple of miles took us back to Marine Drive and thankfully the wind stayed at our backs. I knew my pace was strong and I felt good, but I was amazed to see my pace was in the low 8 minute miles which was uncharted territory for me (and my shins).
The finish line was in sight as we turned right at mile 6 and only a few hundred yards to go. A vibrate from my watch told me that I had covered mile 5 in 7:53. I had to double check as I hadn’t ever run this quickly before, but the watch was right. Spirits high I “sprinted” for home. I crossed the line in 52 mins 9 seconds which was a new PB for me by just over 3 minutes. Although it was somewhat wind assisted this felt like a massive leap forward in my running and completely unexpected. At the beginning of the year a post on the WRC website had asked us all so set ourselves some goals to achieve in 2016. Mine were to run a sub 2 hour half marathon and a sub 55 minute 10K. I had achieved one of my goals already and it was only the 7th of February!!!!!! Thumbs up indeed.
I’ll be back next year…..minus the wind please