Posted by: stokiecat | April 1, 2014

Newcastle 10k – NSRRA Race 3

That’s Newcastle Staffs folks!

My regular reader (hi you sexy thing) and other sharp-eyed people might have noticed that the title of this blog is NSRRA Race 3 and not Race 2 (Alsager 5 being my first NSRRA blog post). Well race 2 was the Stafford 20, held four weeks ago, and previously I would have said 20 miles was  ridiculous thing that only lunatics would sign up to, so I didn’t run it. However I have recently signed up for the South Cheshire 20, to be run in September so it looks like I am officially a lunatic but that’s a story for another occasion.

Anyway, back to the Newcastle 10k. I spent most of the week preparing for this in a totally negative frame of mind and stressing out. In hindsight it was all a melodramatic but I am feeling a bit more pressure to do well in these races to try to do well in my league category. It didn’t help that I read this description on the race webpage:

“Starting outside Newcastle College, the race winds its way up the tough but rewarding Black Bank before descending into Silverdale. The route then goes along the old railway line for a fast run into the finish”

Tough but rewarding? Uh oh, I read that as big effing hill, and started really worrying due to my light training and heavy eating schedule over the past month. I went on Google maps and did the route on street view. This actually makes hills seem flatter but it does draw your attention to long, potentially boring, stretches of road. My original plan was to cycle to the start (it being 5 miles from my house) but in the end I decided that it would not help my anxiety. The next thing was the clock change so I set three alarms on Saturday night and hoped that I would be up in time. However another Stoke win on the Saturday helped my frame of mind and on the Sunday I was ready early and raring (ish) to go. I have realised that my life can pretty much be summed up with a basic Venn diagram.

Perfect Weekend

One of the best things about joining a running club and really just becoming part of the club running community is the people you get to know. Even those who are in rival clubs or who are little more than nodding acquaintances are always chatty and generally happy before a race. I even got to chat with quite a few Stokies (I was wearing my #IAmStoke badge for good luck) and introduced myself to someone who I hadn’t seen since primary school, twenty-nine years ago, I won’t name names in case she’s reading this. These chats help calm my pre-race nerves and means that I don’t start on the negative internal monologue too early.  One thing I should say is I’m not a huge fan of 10K races, they’re too long to be over quickly (takes me just under an hour to complete) but too short for me to consider a decent run, personally I like the half marathon distance. Which makes it all the more ridiculous that I was stressing so badly about the 10k, it’s just a club run after all.

There are plenty of good things about this race, loads of parking close by, good pre-race organisation, an “all-weather” track for warming up. A sunny day also meant a good atmosphere and there was plenty of support along the route. The start was a little way from the club house so we started to line up about 15 minutes before kick off. It was an anniversary race (sorry Newcastle club I can’t remember the details) so after a brief speech which I couldn’t hear we were off. The pre-race chat had been prepare for three miles of up and then three miles of down. Of course, the route wasn’t exactly like that. The first mile was flat to slight incline, plenty of people about, including the amazing Jill P, a TRC member and ultra-runner who joined the first mile and ran with me (and others) for 5 minutes as part of her 26 mile Sunday training run, after having done 30 miles on Saturday!  I was heading along at a comfortable 8.30 pace then I hit Black Bank. Pace dropped to 9.30 then by the time I reached the top it had dropped to 1o minutes. About halfway up I passed a group of TRC supporters including Lisa H, who’s yelled words of encouragement were “Your only option is to finish”! At first I was like, yay, but by the time I got to the top my negative nelly had taken over and I thought actually the other option is to head straight back down that blooming hill. On the upside Black Bank was as hard as I expected but not at all as boring. In fact if this was not a race it would have been quite a nice and scenic route for a training run.

Another thing I have learnt from running is that marshals are liars. I reached the sign for Alsagers Bank and was told on the junction that terrible phrase “it’s all downhill from here”. It’s like that other phrase “only a mile from here”. I’m not sure if they do it out of encouragement or some deliberate malice, but they’re always bloody wrong, it’s never all downhill and it’s NEVER just a mile to go. So at the Alsagers Bank junction when I was told it’s all downhill, guess what? It wasn’t. There is a quite fast downhill for 500 yards into a dip that leads to another climb through the village of Scot Hay. Only after that is it actually all down hill if you ignore of course the last mile is flat. However by that point you know things are starting to look up and you can push on a bit more. Just before I reached the railway line a runner from Newcastle came speeding past me and said “nice nails, club colours!”. I paint my nails as part of my pre-race saturday night ritual. How did he notice?! I couldn’t even tell you my own name during a race yet alone notice the colour of other runner’s nails! It makes me think I might have to include shaving my legs as part of my pre-race ritual if other people start noticing these things. That, or get faster. So anyway I got to the railway line and I was flagging so it was good to see more Trentham supporters, Kirsten and Shaun, to give us a cheer as we hit the final mile and a bit.  The last two miles is probably the dullest part, an old railway cutting tarmaced into a path. What it did mean was a fast finish, firstly another Newcastle runner past me but this time with words of encouragement, “don’t flag now”, he must have seen me starting to slow. I picked up and used my Stafford half mantra of the quicker you run the sooner you finish. This was compounded by another runner overtaking me and a supporter running with them saying “don’t look behind you, no-one can overtake you now”. That was it, no-one else would overtake me either! I didn’t have the legs to catch the cheeky ha’porth who made the overtaking comment but I could hear a runner on my heels so I picked up the pace to a “sprint finish”, my first ever. According to my watch I was running 5 minute mile pace as I crossed the line. I know for some that isn’t that fast and looking back I think this shows that I didn’t really push myself as hard as I could have done for the rest of the race to have the legs left for that finish but that last 200 yards was surprisingly fun.  There were also loads of Trentham supporters on the line so it made for a good finish.  I waited t0 cheer in the last of the TRC runners (including freaking out a fellow runner’s child by picking up worms, I’m so immature) and then a slow walk back to the car and home.  In the end, after all the stress I really enjoyed this race and I finished second in my NSRRA group so even if I didn’t get a PB it was a good race.

1051 yay, downhill! (c) Bryan Dale http://www.racephotos.org.uk/index.htm

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