|Starting at Winchester Guildhall on the High Street|
|930 Runners waiting to go.....|
|Coming in to the finish....|
|With friends Richard and Jackie at the end|
|Runners Finish Medal. King Alfred, the Saxon King who watches over the city which was once his capital.|
We woke up at 7 to drizzle, which isn't as bad as it sounds for running. We got to Winchester, one of my favourite places, with about half an hour to go before the race started to find the car parks filling up fast and the sky now dry. We whizzed off to a little-known car park and found it empty. A quick 5 minute jog to the start and we had time to warm up, chat to some friends and set GPS's to locating satellites before the ten second count-down and we were off, running up the high street then turning right before the market stalls onto Silver Hill and up along St George's street.
I started fairly well back in the field of 900 because of The Knees, and felt like most of the runners streamed past me in the first couple of kilometres, but hills are my Secret Weapon and I was soon feeling good by steadily overtaking a few of them up St George's. We turned right at the top into Jewry Street, ran past the Theatre Royal and down into Hyde Street, past the pub, the White Swan (which is universally known as the Mucky Duck, even on Google Maps I notice!), and on down past the ancient remains of Hyde Abbey.
By now I was settling in to my stride, averaging around 5.20-5.30 mins per km which I figured was a good pace for The Knees. Steve (Physio) had told me I needed to pick up the pace on this run once I'd warmed up and push The Knees a little to test them, so I was Very Good, resisted the temptation to crack on too early and remained steady for the first 5-6k or so and only upped the anti in the last 4k.
At the end of Hyde Street we turned right onto Worthy Road and ran all the way down to a sharp left turn into Church Lane, after which, the lass running beside me informed me in a tone of dread, was a hill. Smiling inwardly, I let her go on ahead then picked her off half way up Nations Hill. So much of running is psychological and anything you can use to give you an edge or a mental boost is extremely helpful. She whizzed by me again on the flat but I knew I'd get her again on the next hill so I concentrated on keeping to my 5.30 mins/km pace. I'm getting better at the discipline of pacing. The temptation is very strong to give in to the atmosphere at the start of a race and rush off way too fast, which of course means you've exhausted yourself before you've gone a few kms.
By now we were about 5k in (Parkrun distance) and I had a chap running beside me who told me he'd undergone 17 hours of bowel surgery in the course of the year and was keen to get his fitness back by running. We chatted a bit and I realised I was really enjoying myself: I wasn't out of breath, I did feel a bit sick on the hills but that soon settled, and I had masses of energy left. The Knees were doing fine and only a few very speedy chaps were overtaking me at this stage- the race had settled into a rhythm and the field had spread out. Around me there was quite a lot of heavy breathing going on, so I reckoned I was in a strong position as my breathing was steady.
I picked off a few more on the next hill and kept the rhythm going at the top so instead of falling back I began to gain on the runners in front. More good headology stuff (as Grannie Weatherwax would say).
At 7k we turned left onto Andover Road, a long, steady incline which was potentially a little dispiriting because you could see a long line of runners plodding away a good distance ahead and that the incline got steeper towards the end. I concentrated on each step and on chewing away at the distance rather than thinking about doing it all at once, and after a few strides realised I was OK to pick up the pace. I left bowel man behind, and the girl who was afraid of hills, and focused on picking off the next group of runners up ahead. By now people were getting tired. I gradually caught up with the group ahead and was soon past them, which was another good confidence boost. I had a brief tussle with a chap who picked up his pace as I drew level but after a few seconds I realised he was tired and he fell back. The hill bit and people ahead slowed, but thanks to all the hill running I do at home I was up and past them quickly and feeling good.
We turned left onto Park Road at 8.8k and then turned right back on to Worthy Road. Here two blokes cam streaming past me, they looked really confident and were running strongly. I didn't bother trying to catch them knowing that it would be pointless, instead I set my sights on a more achievable target- a lady in a Lordshill Runners tee-shirt who had been ahead of me for the last half mile. I caught up with her at the bottom of a small hill and went past. There wasn't that much left to go, I still had fuel in the tank, still wasn't breathing particularly hard, had a good rhythm and best of all The Knees were holding up well, the ache at 1-2 on a scale of 10 (with10 being too painful to run) as it had been all the way round.
I saw the 9km marker ahead up a small hill and started to pick up the pace properly. I overtook two men on the hill, another on the downhill, then saw my mate Bryn who was marshalling and called out a helloooo, checked my watch and realised I was doing better than expected time-wise. It was all downhill from there so I sprinted the last half km, the time coming down to 4.25 mins/km, overtook two more men and raced flat out for the finish. My finish time was a little over 52 minutes, which I was really chuffed with. What a great race!
Fourteen days to go until the Cub......