Posted by: stokiecat | May 17, 2014

Clayton 10K – NSRRA Race 6

I will start this post with a few stats about how the NSRRA works. There are 20 races in the programme and another 2 reserve races. The best 12 performances in these races count towards the league position. Personally I will hopefully be taking part in 18 of these races (I’ve already missed the Stafford 20 and I wont be doing the Flying Fox Marathon) and probably the two reserve races as well. This means that I’ve already reached halfway in terms of races that count towards the final result and by the end of June I’ll be halfway through the actual number of races. At least I can say I’m consistent as so far I’ve finished second every time to a Stafford Harrier, who usually beats me by a significant margin. On Wednesday night I didn’t see Tracy until right before the start. We lined up together and I was joking that she should tell me which races she wasn’t running in so I could win at least one. Unfortunately the one she isn’t doing is also the marathon, doh.  Rather sportingly she said that I should run the race with her but I knew she would be off and too fast so when the race started I let her go. Originally I planned to keep her in my sights, but in reality that lasted for about 5k and then she was gone.

Anyway I was feeling pretty pleased with myself before this race. I’d done my furthest distance ever (16 miles) on the Sunday before. My physio visit on Monday had been painful but good as my calves were much looser. My no refined sugar month was going well and it looked like pre-race nerves were finally settling down. My main concern was that this was my first ever evening kick off so I wasn’t sure what to do about eating and sleeping and so forth in preparation. In the end I thought, well I run in the evenings for the club run on a Tuesday so ate as normal during the day. I did take the afternoon off work and had a cheeky nap, which in the end probably wasn’t necessary but I’m not going to complain about bonus nap-time. When I arrived there were loads of Trentham runners (we were the club with the most entrants for this race) as well as quite a few supporters who weren’t running for a variety of reasons including the fact that the race was full. A team photo-op then a short warm up with a sub-set of Trentham runners, team Gallagher, and I was ready to go.

The race itself is around a suburb of Newcastle-Under-Lyme called Clayton, entirely on roads, none of which had been closed to traffic. The start was a little chaotic as the line had apparently been moved from last year’s position so we lined up and then all had to move a bit further. I started right at the back which was probably a good idea for my pace but there was a pavement funnel system about 200 yards from the start as the course turned onto a very busy main road.  What happened was there was a bunching of runners as 250 people tried to get through a narrow gap, which basically meant we actually stopped at one point and then walked. I joked that it wasn’t a pb course then but some of the faster runners who were caught up in the melee weren’t amused. Once we got through this quite a few people shot off but I decided this was not a race I was going to go all out for so I just carried on at my usual pace and thought if I make up the time all well and good but if I don’t it’s not the end of the world.  I kept an eye out for runners I recognised who I could use as pacers and settled in behind a couple of Newcastle runners.

IMG_0159  (c) Bryan Dale http://www.racephotos.org.uk/ – A great photo of a sea of green Trentham vests. These are the fast people including the ladies winner of the Clayton 10K – Mandy Vernon, third green vest. Not pictured – me, about 15 minutes behind them 😉

It was a beautiful sunny evening and once again stewarding was good and friendly and being local and residential there was quite a bit of support all the way round. This was a two-lap course and, traffic aside, it was OK, mainly suburban housing and a little bit of countryside, so not much view. It was relatively flat, had a couple of short climbs and descents, including a rather nice descent to the half way point/finish. Indeed as I came to the finish line a whole crowd of Trentham runners were walking back to the car park having already finished. They cheered me on (as I jokingly tried to hide my face, it can be embarrassing when all the fast peeps cheer you on when you’re close to the back) but what it did do is spur me on to a sprint finish and I did manage to stop another Stafford Harrier from beating me on the line, who I didn’t even realise was that close until I saw the results. I stood with some of the Trentham runners and cheered on the remaining members of our team and stayed until the last runner had crossed the line, chatting with other runners and supporters we knew.

This is the first race where I’ve really felt strong throughout and it definitely felt like it was easier than some of my other races. I’ve been working on some more visualisation methods to keep my legs strong and my thoughts positive. It wasn’t a pb but it was about a minute better than I was expecting and it was a strong finish. It’s also the first race where I’ve had a mug as a completion prize.IMAG0663_zps5dwidhkh

Whilst running this race I did come to a few realisations. I am proud to run and be in these races. Not everyone will be elite and if the slow folks didn’t enter races it’s possible they wouldn’t be run, therefore I will stay until my last teammate has crossed the line.  I had previously thought I don’t compete, I am happy to take part but then I remembered that I am competing, even if it’s only against myself trying to better my times and maybe if I work hard, I may even catch up with Tracy and bag those 50 points some day…

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