Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Maidenhead Easter 10: Race Notes

Photo with the kind permission of Peter Cook on Flikr
When you race, get out strong, commit (if you haven't heard the reference before, the link is worth a read) is some of the best advice around. On Friday at the Maidenhead Easter 10 Mile race I went out strong, but didn't commit. I try not to make excuses in my race reports, but I've had a virus and strange abdominal pain over the last ten days and I definitely think they caused me to be a couple of minutes off where I should have been. However, it was still a race where I learnt quite a bit which I think will be useful for the marathon later in the year.

Going into the race I was more nervous than I've been in a long time, perhaps the most nervous I've been at a running race. I'm not really sure why, but I think there were two main factors. As a club we had an outside chance of winning the team competition. I was the weakest link in the chain and for us to stand a chance of winning I needed to put in a big performance. Secondly, I wanted to put in a strong performance and get as close to Amy, a fellow club member who is currently flying, as I could. I knew it wasn't really likely, but it doesn't stop you wanting it all the same.

Start Line
As we stood on the start line Stuart spoke to a Serpentine runner we know and asked them if they had a strong team out. Nick simply replied "yes" and it helped reduce some of my nerves. If they had a strong team our slim chance of winning the team prize was out the window and the pressure was off me. I felt a little better already.

0 - 4km
As the starting klaxon sounded, I went with my pre-determined plan and stuck with Amy. We headed out at a little quicker than my 10km pace, which was probably a bit too fast to be sensible, but just like at Wokingham when I went out fast, it felt ok. When we reached the 2.5km marker we saw the leaders come back towards us on the other side of the road and Serpentine were first, second and third. All chances in the team competition had definitely gone!

4 - 5.5km
We were slowly working through runners in front of us, catching little groups and moving through them. I was beginning to hope that Amy would be satisfied with the group we'd just caught and tuck in for a while, but she kept on pushing.

5.5 - 8km
As we got to around the 5.5km marker our average pace for the race so far was 3min 33sec per km which was quicker than the most optimistic target I had for the race. As Amy pushed through yet another group, I decided that I'd stick on the back of the group we were currently with.

The next 2.5km were a bit of a day dream. The group I was with disintegrated. I felt I was level pegging with a few people in front that I recognised and not slipping back too far. I found myself thinking about my upcoming wedding, and deciding that it wasn't good that my mind was wondering, I tried counting which is a tip I'd discussed with a couple of people to help my mental gremlins.

8 - 10.5km
As we hit the half way point in the race started to go backwards as a number of people started over taking me. I didn't have any urge to try and stay with the people coming past and just kept on going. I had a glance at my watch and my average pace for the race so far was 3m 39sec per km which was my more realistic race goal. I wouldn't say I was feeling great, but I wasn't in pain like I was at Wokingham, despite still having a pretty good average pace.

10.5 - 14.5km
I was carrying an energy gel as an experiment to take during the race to see if it would give me a lift. I was planning to take it at the 7 mile marker, but I was beginning to fatigue a bit around the 6.5m marker so I decided to take it. It was a brand I hadn't used before and had a slightly sherbet / fizzy sensation and I only had half to three quarters of it. It didn't seem to have a noticeable effect.

I did a little more counting and plodding along. I could tell that we were getting nearish to the finish and we'd hit the section across the fields that Stuart had told me about before the race.

14.5 - 16.1km
We turned about onto the road into the business park and I know that it meant we had a mile to go, which was also on a slight downhill. I picked up the pace a little bit, but knew that it was still quite a long way to go.

With about 500m to go I decided that the runner I could hear closing behind me wasn't going to get past. The fist competitive streak I'd had all race. I picked up the pace a little bit more and on the final bend I kicked with about 300m to go. I pulled out a good lead, but I'd gone too early and he got me with about 20m before the line.

As I crossed the line I was a bit shocked to see the official clock was showing 1hr 21sec. I hadn't been focusing on times going round the course and had spent a lot of the time day dreaming, but I had thought I'd break the hour and was initially pretty disappointed not too have done.

Despite initially being quite upset at not breaking the hour. There were still lots of positives in the race and my pace wasn't pretty consistent with that I did at Wokingham so it wasn't all bad.

Things I learnt:
- I experimented with having a bigger breakfast than usual three hours before the race. I didn't suffer any cramps and think this is something I'll continue doing

- While I was feeling unwell and generally sorry for myself I'd stopped doing my leg strength exercises and I paid during the race with a sore glue. I need to keep them up

- At Wokingham I went with a group that was too fast for me and really paid the price at the end when my legs were screaming and it was mentally hard. This time I didn't go with a group and pulled back the pace. Definitely not conclusive, especially as I spent a lot of the race day dreaming and not really pushing, but I think it was probably a smart move.

- Warm up & cool down. I never really do either, but ran a good couple of miles warm up and cool down. I think it did me some good.

- It didn't give me much of a boost, but I didn't suffer a stitch or any other side effects from taking an energy gel. I will try it again.

- Counting was a good distraction when I needed it. My only concern is that I might have counted at the same rhythm as my legs turning over and it might affect your pace?

- I ran the race in new socks and I enjoyed the springy feeling they gave me. I think I'll 'treat' myself to relatively new socks in the marathon.

Need to learn:
- It was the first race with my new Polar watch. While my old Garmin gave me an average pace per km on the screen, the Polar gives you an average pace for the entire distance so far (unless you take manual laps). While this has an advantage, it masked how slow I was getting because it was just slowly dropping my average pace for the race so far. If I'd realised how slow some of my individual km's were I would have given myself a kick even in my day dreaming state! I need to learn how to race with my watch.

- I went into the race without a real game plan and not really know what paces I need to achieve to get under an hour. Hence me thinking I was comfortably inside when I wasn't!

It should be said that the event was really well organised, with lots of friendly marshals. It was a good course too and definitely a race I'd like to do again.

I was 57th out of 915 people who completed the race in 1:00:21

The data from my watch is here.

The official results are here.

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