First Race of 2016
My first event of year was a 20km race around Dorney Lake, the rowing venue for the London 2012 Olympic Games, and this meeting was the opening round of the Windsor and Eton Winter Run Series by F3 Events who run several local races in the area during the year.
I chose this particular race because it is a great venue for starting the year – it is flat (apart from a few bridges), the multiple laps let you get into a rhythm, the Olympic rings are very motivating, and it is within easy travelling distance of West London and Surrey.
There were actually separate four races in one – a lap of the course was 5km and so there were one, two three and four lap races simultaneously being run by the 500 runners in total who had entered the event. I wanted to do the longest possible distance.
Initially it was difficult to tell what pace I should be running, given that I didn’t know who was running which race, although I started very fast and subsequently settled into quite a strong pace that I was able to maintain it for the whole of the first lap.
My opening lap time was 21 minutes 52 seconds and I naively thought I could maintain that pace and finish in under 90 minutes with ease. Target achieved, but I found the second lap very gruelling and several runners in front of me disappeared into the distance.
I tried to find a consistent pace but the small field made it difficult to find a pacemaker – people were speeding up and slowing down all over the pace (although I was doing the same) – so I focussed on my own race but I lost a lot of time with a 22 minutes 48 seconds lap.
My goal was to complete the race in under 90 minutes but the drop in pace during the second lap had put this time at risk so I went up a gear for the third lap and tried to not lose any more time. I wanted to run a consistent lap and then push hard on the final tour of the lake.
I felt that my third lap had been roughly the same pace as my first lap, however the time of 23 minutes 33 seconds was my slowest of the four, but I put everything into the last lap and pushed very hard right from the start. I could feel that I was running considerably faster than before.
There was no-one of my pace near me but I used lapped runners as targets and as motivation, especially as these slower runners were actually putting in quite a pace. I pushed at the very limit for the final 2km back along the lake to make up every single second that I possibly could.
As I came round the corner on the final lap I couldn’t read the time on the digital timer but I could see it was a neat number and, as it gradually came in to focus, I realised it had said 1:30:00, which was very disappointing, but there was absolutely nothing that I could do.
I didn’t stop, continuing to push right to the finish line, and went on to complete the final lap in 22 minutes 24 seconds and the whole race in 90 minutes and 30 seconds. This was just half a minute shy of my target time and my strongest performance for two years.
Initially I was pleased with the result of 14th in the 20km race, although subsequently I found out there had only been 31 finishers over that distance so I was disappointed not to finish higher – I was three minutes shy of the top ten and five minutes shy of the top five.
It was a nice surprise to find that I was third in my age group though (40 to 44, despite being 39) – I did optimistically hang around for the awards in case I got on the podium, but sadly the awards didn’t go down that far! Much more training is required for a prize though, I know.
Nonetheless I was glad to finish my first race of the year so close to my target, which itself would have been a sub 95 minute half marathon, and this showed that all the Christmas training had paid off. I expect a sub 90 minute half marathon to be on the cards this year.