|Start line photo courtesy of Andy Leates|
There were quite a few Kent runners at the event and we arrived around an hour before the start, which was plenty of time to get changed, drop off our bags and have a warm up. The race field was around 550 people and it was very well organised meaning there was no queue for the baggage tent and only a relatively short queue for the loos.
I'd had a really good run at the Assembly League two weeks previously, which had given me a lot of confidence going into the race, but I also wasn't sure how to pace the distance (as it was only my fourth 10km race) and I was pretty tired coming off the back of a hard week or training and a couple of bad nights sleep. I decided I'd try and give it some welly and go for 34:59 if I could.
As we lined up at the start four of us from Kent decided that we were going to go for the same time and would try and work together. As the air horn went Amy shot off leaving the three of us behind! I felt that I was running as hard as I wanted to in the first kilometre, and was on target pace, so let her go rather than keep up.
As small pack of us had formed by around the 2km maker and I was happy to sit at the back of the group. It was feeling a harder effort than it had done at the Assembly League, but I was trying to stay relaxed and as comfortable as I could.
The course was an 'out and back' more of less along the sea front and we were running into a headwind as we ran west on the outward leg. I didn't look at my watch too much during the race, as I was trying to run it on feel, but I did see that our 3km split was 6 seconds off the pace and I knew that sub-35mins was off the agenda already so just decided to have the best race I could from that point on.
Just after the 4km marker, David from Kent moved to the front of the group we had been running with and I decided that I'd go with him. As I stepped out from behind the people around me I could feel the headwind and was pleased that I'd been sheltered from it up until now. As we rounded the 5km marker to start heading for home David and I were in the lead of our pack. I was focusing on what I was doing rather than looking backwards, but I think we'd started to break them up by this stage.
About half a kilometre later another runner ran through and neither David or I reacted. Around the 6km mark, Che from our club also came alongside and then past us and pulled out a 20 - 30 meter gap onto us. I was feeling pretty happy with the effort level that I was putting in so decided to let him go.
Around the 8km mark I started to find the race quite a lot tougher. While at Wokingham I let negative thoughts get on top of me I made a conscious effort to stay more in control this time. Rather than thinking about the finish I was breaking the race down into smaller segments, get to the next bench, litter bin or pavillion along the sea front. It must have done some good as I sped up for the last two km, with the final km being my fastest of the race!
Just before the 9km it felt I could push on past David, so I made an effort to get past him and to catch up with Che. I pulled level with Che around the 750m to go marker and got past him as well. As I went past the 400m to go marker I could sense someone coming up on my shoulder. I didn't look to see who it was, but assumed it must have been Che coming back at me. I was going to let them come past me and then decided that I wasn't going to do that! I knew at the speed I was going, and how tired I felt, I wouldn't have much of a sprint finish in me so needed to get rid of them before the final 50m. With 200m to go I put in a small kick and it was enough to open up a two second gap!
I was exhausted when I crossed the finish line, possibly the most tired I've been after a race and had to have a lie down on the grass for a few minutes to recover!
It hadn't occurred to me to go for a swim at the end of the race, but when one of the other Kent runners suggested it I thought it would be rude not to as we were right next to the beach on the promenade. There was quite a lot of seaweed, but otherwise it was lovely.
I came 24th overall in a time of 35:27.
The official results are here.
The data from my watch is here.
The photo at the top of the post is used with the kind permission of Andy Leates. You can see all of his photos from the run here. (Including a couple of good ones of the fastest Kent AC finishers Phil and Amy.)