A few times in a runner’s lifetime, the race magic really kicks in. I can think of twice before when I’ve felt incredible for the whole race – the Healdsburg Half Marathon and the Ayala Cove trail race. Well yesterday was one of those races when everything feels awesome.Even this morning as I press publish, I am still sky-high on endorphins!
Let’s back up a little.
So yesterday, I ran the Salisbury 10-miler. Salisbury has been in the news lately due to former Russian spies being nerve-agent’d in the shopping centre. But Salisbury is also my home-town – the shopping centre where the Skripals got attacked was where I used to buy hot-pink accessories at C&A in my youth. It is a beautiful city and is suffering as a result of the recent events. The 10-miler has a great reputation – well-organized and fast so the Husband and I signed up ages ago. My parents took the Dude on Saturday night and on Sunday morning, we drove the 45 minutes to Salisbury.
Right from the start, the organization was visible and impressive. Clear signage directed runners to the main car park (parking is currently free, to try to encourage anxious shoppers back into the city) and there were several very friendly marshals on the 5 minute walk to the staging area at the local fire station. Packet pick up was fast and efficient (it helps to know your race number beforehand) and we picked up our t-shirts in advance. There was a bag check a hundred yards away, with a volunteer giving out tags and writing our numbers on. I was hugely impressed with the race organization.
We had plenty of time, so we bought a cup of tea and found Anne and her husband, who was running his first 10-miler and longest distance ever. We chatted, did a half-hearted static warm-up and before long, it was time to line up.
My goals for the race were clear. I’d run a 10-miler in February, managing just over 9 minute miles, and it had been somewhat of a slogfest. I felt that 8.50 was a realistic goal for this race and, if I was able to pull that off, I might be able to hold that same pace for 13.1 miles at Annecy in a few weeks’ time. The Husband just wanted to get round – this race was his ENTIRE TRAINING CYCLE for Annecy!
We set off in the lightest of drizzle. Rain was forecast throughout but we struck gold and it was never more than drizzly. I tried to stay steady for the first mile and not fly out too fast but when I glanced at my watch when it beeped at the first mile, I’d run 8.30. Oh well,it felt okay.
It continued to feel okay as we ran out of Salisbury and into the beautiful Woodford Valley, one of my favorite roads in all of the UK. It winds along the river through lush green countryside, past gorgeous cottages. It’s relatively flat – there are some gentle inclines but nothing harsh. Even on a grey day, it was lovely. I ran at effort, only glancing at my watch when it beeped the miles. 8.42. 9.01. 8.38. This felt too good.
Mile 5 had a fairly significant hill but I felt like I cruised up it and pushed hard on the downhill past my dream cottage and into Middle Woodford. 9.08. At this point, we crossed over the river and back up through the Durnfords on the other side of the river. There was a water station – I walked through as I drank – and then another significant hill. 8.42
For a few miles we ran on through the pretty villages. There were a few climbs but I also felt that there were long stretches of gorgeous long downhill which I could really fly on. I still felt really good – no sign of fatigue. 8.47, 8.36.
We finally got back into the Salisbury suburbs and I still felt I was flying along. As my mile beeped mile 9 I glanced down and it was 8.27. How the heck was I running this fast at Mile 9?? I put everything I could into the final mile. We veered off the road onto a lovely little bike path back to the staging area. I pushed hard – not flat-out because this wasn’t my goal race but I definitely changed gear. I was tiring but still feeling really good. Eventually we broke out onto the field where the finish line was – there was a mean stretch on grass but finally I finished! That final mile was 8.14.
I ran a 5k flat-out at 8.14 a few weeks ago. What just happened?
I’ll tell you what happened. Weeks of hard work and weeks of doubt, weeks of not ‘feeling fast’ finally paid off and I smashed my goal! I do generally try to be as modest as being British requires but I tell you people…I was absolutely thrilled to bits and as proud as freaking punch!
10 miles in 1.26 at 8.41 average pace.
I took my endorphin-wasted body over to the side to watch Anne, her husband and finally my own lovely husband run it in. The Husband ran it in 1.51 which, given his total lack of training, is quite the achievement.
There were camels at the finish line. Not entirely sure why but they were magnificent….
…and a little intimidating.
There’s so much to love about this race. I really can’t praise it enough.
- Excellent organization. The staging area was faultless.
- Wonderfully cheerful marshals throughout. So kind and patient and encouraging.
- A beautiful route. Enough hills to keep it honest. Flat enough to race hard.
- Llamas en route and camels at the finish line.
- Plentiful loos. Coffee, tea, snacks and bacon sarnies before and after.
- Free race photos!! This is not a common thing in the UK!
- Camel and llama themed loot!
Personally, I am still buzzing. What a great day! What encouragement for Annecy and for running in general. If I’m able to maintain this pace for another 3 miles on what I believe is a flatter course, I could do 1.53 at Annecy, which is faster than I dared hope.
This show is firmly on the road.