So last week I wrote about my failure to get the small things done because I was focused on the big picture. About missing out on local races and, how the big picture of my summer of fun was falling apart because the small bits it was made up of were being ignored. I said that I would start looking at local races and smaller events and even started booking a few. This week I am pleased to report that things have taken a turn for the better and I am going to tell you all about the local race I ran, Polesdon Lacy 10k.
Polesdon Lacy is a national trust property set in large grounds not far from where I live. To be honest this race would have passed me by too if it hadn’t been for my wife who surprisingly spotted it while looking through the local paper. This was exactly the kind of event I was looking for. Local, only 10k and the people who run the event are the same people who supply my trainers. What’s not to love?
I was not sure if there were places left so I sent a quick tweet and found out there were on the day registrations still open. That was that decision made. On the morning I went out and registered bright and early. It was a bit more expensive than I thought it was going to be, but that’s the price you pay for late entries. I ran a gentle mile and a half warm up ( still trying to get in over 30 miles a week ) and made my way to a rain sodden start.
I actually wore road shoes for this run, I know the paths around the area are pretty good in the dry being mostly gravely stone affairs and, to be fair we started upon Tarmac and stayed on it for the first half mile. It had been raining all morning and if I had known that the stretches through the woods were to be run on Bridleways I would have worn my trail shoes. It was a close and tricky call though. Normally I know at least one or two people at events but here I knew no one, so when I trudged to the start I made an educated guess about where in the pack I should be. I think I did fairly well because as we started out I moved gradually up the field.
It was not long before we hit a fairly minor up hill stretch which transitioned into a long downhill on road which finished with an arch and a very sharp left up the first of the proper country tracks. Then came another tarmacked stretch which passed under a footbridge before leading down into an idyllic valley. Seriously when you imagine all the fancy secluded places you could ever want to live, this is it. At the bottom was a small farm house with a pond beside it and a carpet of green fields surrounding. Bisecting these fields another country track took us up into woodland.
The hill leading through the woods wasn’t the steepest hill I have ever run, but boy was it long. It just kept going. I had promised myself I would try and average sub 8’s for this 10k but this hill put the kibosh on that. Having played this game before and feeling sure that at any moment we would be going down I just kept plodding at a slightly slower speed and saved myself a little energy. There was no point in putting a huge effort in and being left unable to capitalise on any down hills that came up. Sure enough there was a wonderful return for all that uphill effort. The following downhill was the best part of a mile.
This section was steep. Not so steep you had to slow down but enough that you needed to use your arms to balance as your legs teetered on the brink of running away with you. It felt fantastic, just like being 12 again and I swear I had the biggest grin on my face. I think I even heard myself chuckling aloud. No rewards for sanity there then. Needless to say this gift of a hill made up for all the time lost going up and unfortunately there was another uphill following immediately after.
Just as you started up there was a water stop which I ran through. On a 10k I don’t really feel the need to fuel or water so I am not sure what the water stations were like, I think there were power bars for the taking but I flashed past to the next stretch. This is where trail shoes would have come into their own. We were running up a bridleway, already churned by hooves and now drenched to a gloop by the mornings non stop rain. I slipped a little, not enough to land me on my arse but enough to slow me down a touch.
Then we were out and across fields to join another track which led to a pillared arch. On the other side was a terrace in the grounds of the house which overlooked the valley we had just run through. At the end of the terrace we double backed through a tunnel of Yew trees which was dry and firm. I recognised this from my little warm up and so stepped it up a gear knowing we were getting close to the finish. I kept some back though. I had
averaged sub 8 minute miles but I was sure there was another hill waiting and I wanted to save something for that. I was robbed of a final hill though. After the Yews there was a bend, a slight rise and, then a flat run through to the finish. Placed as 51 with a chip time of 48:35, I’m happy with that.
I could have done better, if I had known the course more but, to be honest this race wasn’t about the time. It was about doing something positive to make me feel like I was not drifting any more. It was about racing in the area around me where I sometimes train and, taking in the beauty. It was about satiating my Sunday night Bling envy, and on all those three counts it succeeded. Knowing my route I will just plan better next year for a faster time, and I hope I’m back because it is one beautiful run with the majority of it under tree cover just the way I like it.