Posted by: stokiecat | April 21, 2014

Air Products 10k – NSRRA Race 4

I’m tired of writing, and I’m sure you’re bored of reading, about how my training is always poor and I don’t look forward to races. Well, my training was meh as usual but I wasn’t too worried about this one. The Air Products 10k, or the South Cheshire 10K, is notorious as a PB course, flat as a pancake, so I was thinking that my usual bimble would be over relatively quickly (for me). My focus is on the Potters Half now, so any races between now and June are really just peripheral, which meant my training had been steady, i.e. not as much as I liked.  Last Sunday I had done my first “summer season” training run of 12 miles over fields and tracks with my group leader Walter. It was lovely, sunny but not hot, some nice views and nice places and not to quick a pace, a great start. When I arrived home I decided to check out the South Cheshire course using Google street view. It turns out that I signed up for a race that is two flat laps around an industrial estate in Crewe, not exactly scenic and no hills.  In a word, dull. What this basically meant was I simply failed to become enthusiastic about this race, no pre-race nerves but no desire to do particularly well. When race day arrived to make it an even more attractive prospect the weather forecast was overcast, indeed for the first 3k it bucketed down and didn’t finish raining until I reached the 5k mark. If ever there was a race where I just wanted to get through it, this was it.

However as usual it was a good atmosphere before the race, plenty of Trentham runners, including Alli, who was an honorary member of TRC for the race, taking part in her first 10k. We arrived in plenty of time, and headed to race HQ at the Manchester Metropolitan University Campus. Plenty of space in what I think was the student union building and a good amount of toilets meant this was probably the most stress free race start I’ve had. A steady 3/4 mile warm up with Emily meant that we missed the “official” TRC picture, and nearly entered the fun run by mistake but there was a mass of green waiting at the start line.  Also as usual I had attended a Stoke game on the Saturday, this time an away fixture at Cardiff, where we had got draw (an away point is always a good point) and I spent some time talking to my fellow Stokie in the South Cheshire Harriers, Alan, who had also been to the match.  The new Cardiff City Stadium is a huge improvement on the awful Ninian Park  but it is also in the middle of an industrial estate. I have basically spent my weekend frequenting industrial estates, that’s living the high life alright.

crewe A snippet of the scenic route, courtesy of Google maps. Much sunnier than I experienced it.

Anyway to the race, which started pretty well. There is a switchback in the first half mile which meant plenty of shouts from and to fellow runners and generally  it was a good start. I had set my watch for a zone target of 8 minutes 50 and although I probably started off a little bit too fast I generally kept to that pace. I do like a bit of chat so it was good to run with Phil for a bit, but he’s faster than me so he went ahead after about the first couple of k. I spotted someone who I recognised as a bit faster than me so kept her within in my sights and settled in behind her for what I hoped was going to be a fairly easy run. However I was wrong. Maybe I was too relaxed and underestimated this race because by the time I reached 5k I couldn’t believe we had only done half the race.

I completely lost my bearings and all sense of how long this race was. I saw the 8k sign and thought thank goodness it’s nearly done, but then the last 2k became the longest part of the race. A 9k marker on the bridge took forever to reach but as I passed it I thought I knew where it was and stepped up the pace. Worst idea ever, I had seriously misjudged the distance. I was on the slight incline on the main road and kept thinking where’s the finish? where’s the finish? I thought I was going to cry but then I saw the roundabout and a sea of Trentham green heading towards me as all the fast finishers were making their way back to race HQ. I couldn’t fail at that point, how embarrassing would that be? I heard the men’s team captain shouting at me on so I picked up the pace even more and I saw the finish cones. I grimaced across the line and saw the beautiful, beautiful grass and went straight down onto my hands and knees. This rather melodramatic end to the race did cause consternation from Alan who saw me “collapse” and expressed genuine concern (to whom I would like to say thank you) but in reality I as just being a bit of  wuss and had the grass not been there I would have just carried on to the water stations properly. On the bright side I did get a 10k personal best. A pb is always a pb, and I am pleased to get a couple of minutes off my previous one but I do feel a little underwhelmed on this occasion.

IMG_0416 At 3k things were going well, as you can see it’s not very sunny. or scenic. photo (c) Bryan Dale http://www.racephotos.org.uk/index.htm

After a bit more of a chat with Alan, I went to cheer on the last of the Trentham runners crossing the line, with mixed fortunes, a very happy Kerry and a not so happy Emily. Instead of a stretch Emily and I ran back down the course to find Alli and run her to the finish. Emily then made me run back to race HQ and then to the car to get our kit and then back to race HQ. It was like punishment. We stayed for the presentation as there were some Trentham winners, including the overall Ladies winner, Mandy Vernon, yay! Then off to the pub where I had a couple of pints of Pedigree as I’m on holiday this week. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking with it.

Despite being somewhat negative about this race route, there are lots of positives. It’s a bargain entry fee, it’s super well organised and the marshaling is excellent. All the marshals were lovely, really encouraging and kept me going through the race. The best comment was on about 7 km when a marshal shouted “Come on Trentham, not another one, I’ve seen about 60 of you lot pass already”  Also the finishers shirt is rather nice and bright so it’ll come in useful for winter night runs around industrial estates.

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