Tarpley 10

My next milestone was my next longest run: my running club has a 10 mile and 20 mile race around the roads and villages in our area each year, so it seemed a good plan to sign me up for the 10 mile. This did mean Stephen had to be volunteered as a marshal as the rules are that a member has to supply a volunteer before they can run the race, but they kindly put him on an early station so that he would be free later on for cheering and support.

I felt fairly confident leading up to the race, as it was only 2 km further than my previous furthest. However one unexpected issue was which shoes to wear – Stephen had bought me some Brooks for extra cushioning for all the road running I’d been doing, and they had been fine until the 14 km run and 12 km runs I had done recently, where they started to rub my little toe. I had the option of just taping the toe, or running in my older Altra shoes, but we decided to pop over to the running shop in Colchester for some expert advice. Here I was greeted with horror for the state of my Altras, leaning inwards and thus not providing the support they had when new, due to a combination of splayed legs resulting in me landing on the inside of my foot, and my bad habit of not bothering to untie the laces when putting them on and off.

I was presented with several new pairs of shoes to run around the shop in. I wasn’t sure if it was a good idea but Stephen’s declaration that he wasn’t driving all the way to Colchester without buying something was just the encouragement I needed, and the running shop expert said it would be better to run in the new pair than either of my old badly fitting pairs, so we duly bought the new different type of Altra shoes, and I was relieved to find no issues running in them for 10 miles straight away – one of the big ‘don’t do it’ rules for long distance running!

I had felt slightly anxious about the repeated emails leading up to the race saying ‘don’t start the race if you’re not going to run, don’t walk it’ and ‘don’t hold up the marshals who have given up their time to stand around for hours’, seeing as I was pretty certain of being the slowest 10 mile runner. However a look at last year’s results suggested I should finish before the slowest 20 mile runners in spite of them starting an hour earlier, so I tried to put that out of my mind, and just do a steady pace. I had no intention of pushing faster than I was comfortable with as the day was intended as long distance training towards the half marathon and marathon to come, not as a PB attempt as such.

Through Hessett with the sweeper bikes

The race morning went smoothly: Stephen set off to do his marshal duties, and I drove to the race HQ where I parked, collected my number, chatted to a few people, and waited for the start. I set off near the back and was quickly overtaken by the few people behind me, but stayed in touch with a few of them for most of the first section. I was followed by a lady on a bike acting as ‘sweeper’ and she knew me slightly from the running club so was very encouraging and friendly, as was her partner who joined us later. After 6km we were joined by the 20 mile runners who had by then completed 14 miles of their route, so it was much more like a normal run or race from then on with people jogging past saying ‘well done’ every few minutes.

Coming in to Drinkstone Green

I had seen Stephen at his marshal point, and he popped up another three times later in the race as he drove around to various points to cheer me on, which was lovely! The bikes disappeared as the last 20 mile runners would be followed by a ‘sweep’ car, so I was mostly alone, though I could still see a 10 mile runner a short distance ahead. However I knew if I tried to speed up to overtake I would regret it towards the end of the race. We had been a bit concerned about flooded roads due to the recent weather (if it had been last Sunday, the race would almost certainly have been cancelled due to flooding), but although there were sections with only a narrow strip of tarmac showing, there was only one short bit where the water was right across the road, and I followed the runners ahead who hopped up onto the grass and walked carefully along the muddy verge, rather than getting my new shoes soaked!

Working hard, almost at the final summit

I had been feeling quite comfortable for most of the race and I hadn’t felt I was pushing the pace. The water stations were well manned and I had had my gels and nutrition. However as we passed the 12 km distance, I did find I was started to feel pretty tired – Stephen said afterwards it started going uphill a bit at this point so I daresay that didn’t help, but 3 of the last 4 km really needed a lot of mental effort to push on through. The final km was gently downhill so I found the strength to speed up a little and finally arrived at the finish, where we had a nice little uphill slope to the finish!

The finish line at last! (The clock is the timer for the 20-milers)

I had noticed before the start that an organization was in the hall offering massages post-race, so I took advantage of that to have my legs taken care of in the hope of preventing any major soreness. Between that and the protein drinks immediately afterwards and at bedtime, the delicious steak Stephen made us for dinner, and the further massage from Stephen, I was pleased to find the next morning that although I felt tired, I didn’t feel particularly sore or stiff and was able to go out for my short run which had been pencilled in for the following day.

So overall an encouraging race. I do feel a little daunted at the idea of another 5K (about another 48 minutes at my pace) for the half marathon in 3 weeks, and am trying not to think about doubling the entire distance in April, but my trainer tells me that it’s all going very well and I will be fine!

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