On a chilly and windy Easter Sunday morning (and after losing an hours sleep due to the clocks going forward) I took the relatively short trip to Hale Village near Liverpool for my next race. As it was fairly local I had my official cheer squad with me consisting of Kathryn and Cerys (my wife and daughter) and my mum and dad. They were keen to lend their support and Cerys was particularly happy to come as there was a strong possibility she would acquire daddy’s Easter Egg (one of the prizes in the goody bags for the finishers). It also meant I could keep warm right up until the last possible moment which was a bonus.
Due to the fact this was a race close to home there were plenty of other Warrington Running Club vests at the start. There were about 400 or so entries so there were no fancy starting pens or anything like that, just a mass start. I positioned myself somewhere in the middle as I was aiming for 8:30 pace per mile so felt this was a decent place to start from. We started a little late due to some of the more elite athletes finishing their warm ups (I think) and the first challenge was to negotiate the tight start and avoid the bollards conveniently positioned about 100m after the start line. Thankfully the shouts of “POST” from ahead alerted us and we managed to dodge them without incident.
The route took us around the village of Hale in the first mile or so and then out into the country lanes and around the farmland. It drizzled in the first few miles but never rained with any intensity and this was welcomed as I had chosen to keep my baselayer on due to the temperatures at the start (and I ALWAYS seem to regret it after a mile or so when I get warmed up). With a relatively small field it seemed to thin out quite quickly and there was plenty of room to run. I was aiming for 8:30 per mile and managed the first three miles in 8:30, 8:29 and 8:30 respectively. I was delighted with this as usually my pace is quite inconsistent so I was happy that I had managed to maintain a steady pace and the race was going to plan. I’d run 10K at 8:35 with the club the previous Monday so I was hopeful I could keep this up.
At around 3 miles I spotted some fellow primrose and blue Warrington Running Club vests ahead of me and set a goal to chase them down in order to keep my pace up, rather than flagging in the last few miles. This seemed to work well as there were a few small inclines and this spurred me on as it got a bit tougher. I passed a couple of my fellow club runners between 3 and 4 miles and the route was taking us back into the village. I spotted another WRC vest ahead of me and although I thought it was unlikely I aimed to overtake her before the end of the race. I was starting to suffer now and felt like I was slowing so had to really concentrate on keeping those legs pumping and keeping my posture correct. As part of some technique analysis I had done a few months ago it was noted my hips are not aligned correctly and I run with a slight bent posture. I tried to keep this in mind and run slightly more upright than I normally would. I knew it was working as I felt like I was going faster and could feel my hips working harder.
As we rounded the final corner that took us back into the park where the start/finish was I could hear the WRC cheer squad and caught sight of my family as well and decided I really had to have a bit of a sprint finish. I went for it and managed to pick off another couple of runners in the process. I am not normally very quick so was pleased I managed to have enough in the tank to sprint for the line. It was great to see my daughter running over to me after I had finished and she seemed pleased with my efforts and wanted to know immediately if I had seen her……and where the Easter eggs was :-). As this was only a small local race, I didn’t hold out much hope for the goody bag but was quite impressed. There was a really good medal featuring the Childe of Hale (a historical figure who was a “giant” and was 9 feet tall) and a race branded neck scarf/gaiter/headband thing, along with the obligatory water bottle etc. Every finisher also got an Easter egg which was a nice touch. For the entry fee I was impressed and will look out for any events organised by these guys in the future.
Overall it was a nice morning’s work. I’d covered the last 2 miles in 8:17 and 8:13 meaning I had averaged 8:24 per mile and finished in 42:03. I don;t normally track 5 mile times but after scanning back through previous times this was a PB. I was encouraged I had managed to keep consistently at my goal pace and had enough in the tank for 2 slightly quicker miles at the end. The best part being there was no real issues with the shins and as I type this 2 days later they seem relatively calm too…..although a punishing PT session first thing this morning will have tested them.
I’ve no races planned now until mid May when I have the Chester Half Marathon, so I will likely be scouring the internet in the next few days to find a 10K or two to build into my training.
What’s your favourite race distance? 5mile? 10K? Half? Full?
Does anyone else set themselves pace targets to focus them during a run?