Mileage has been pretty low so far this year, I’ve had a niggle in my thigh during the past few weeks, I’v moved house and only managed 5K this week. Not a great record leading up to the Winchester 10K but signing up mainly as an excuse to catch-up with school friends I thought hey-ho I’ll get around one way or another.
Up early on a Sunday morning and leaving my friend’s at 7.45am for a stroll down the hill I was feeling ok. Nothing out of the ordinary, not amazing. Got myself ready at my car (strategically parked on the way out the night before – god bless free parking on evening’s and weekends) and made my way to the Guildhall for the start-line. An 8.45am race start was a little earlier than normal, but at least it gets it out of the way. Walking past a farmers market setting up was a tease with a stand full of perfectly cooked bread. Spotting the pie stand I decided I’d make my way there before heading home for an easy dinner.
Joined the queue for the toilets – female queue long as ever and then joined another queue for baggage drop. There was a £1 charge for the bag drop with all proceeds going to a local charity. I received my bag token then made my way to another table for another bag wristband for my wrist. This seemed a slightly odd way to do it but I went with it anyway and after my second wristband dropped my bag off in the minibus. It was such a cold morning, so much so that my hands were frozen and a marshal kindly helped me peel the tags for the wristbands. I’d decided to go with my neck buff and keep gloves with me (knowing they’d be off a mile later!).
Meeting up with family members we hung around at the start line. From where we were it was hard to hear the PA but caught the countdown from 8 seconds to go and suddenly, out of nowhere we were off. Heading over the start line and through the city centre – past the dreamy farmers market – it was fairly congested but I weaved my way through pretty sharpish and up the first hill, 0.2 miles in – are you mad? Is this what the whole race is going to be like?
Heading out of the city and down the country lanes I started to get into the race, telling myself ‘do not run too fast yet, there are hills’, some hills and a few more hills – lovely downhill sections we were in the villages of Headbourne Worthy and Kings Worthy. A water stop just after the 5K – in cups so I took the opportunity to walk 10 steps rather than run 10 steps! Halfway and we were on our way back in to the city – not sure on my 5K split but I remember thinking ‘great – let’s hope I’ve not burnt myself out’. Down the country lanes I came across a dead rat … a new one on me. 4 miles in I was getting the blaaaaaaahhhh feeling and could have easily taken a walk break however seeing a small hill, Lisa Jackson’s National Running Show theme tune came into my head – I am fit, I am strong, I can run a marathon. Though not a marathon even the shortest of races can feel like it sometimes. Seeing my old school to the right I started feeling a little nostalgic. Looping down to Abbots Barton the final hill was upon us. From there on it was down, down, down. Feeling great, like I can do this, I can make below the hour I sped up but let my legs take me. My Garmin ticked over 6 miles and I thought – let’s just go for it. Still downhill I made my way into the football club and hit the finish line with my Garmin saying 57.58. Under an hour, under 58 minutes? Me?
Smiling like a Cheshire cat I received a text – almost instantly after crossing – official time 57.56! Three seconds quicker than my Garmin! A PB!!! Not only a PB but one my over 2 minutes!
We then got in line, firstly receiving our medal – which is so good – then water, Haribo, a banana (I actually opted for the banana over the sweets – who am I?) and our finishers t-shirts. Collecting bags was a painless process and over quick and easy.
Nice crowds, especially at the start and finish but also people made the effort to cheer the runners in surrounding villages. For a small fee of £18 (affiliated) the race was fantastic value for money and one I’d consider again next year.
Fab pre-race communication. I’d lost my confirmation – doubting I’d event signed up and responded to something on Off Beat Events Facebook page, I received a response (on a Friday evening) to say I was on the start-line list and then within two days the confirmation was back in my inbox. Race number was delivered two weeks before the event, so no on-the-day registration – a turn up and run kinda race.
Only criticisms – the bag drop was a little chaotic and there were a few roads that I think could have done with some more marshals. Cars driving past, fairly speedily at a couple of parts made it a little edgy.
Afterwards I met with my family again and we headed to a Wetherspoon for a celebratory pint (half for me) and breakfast.
Maybe three glasses of wine and a three course meal the evening before is the way forward?
Next up … Cambridge half, 4th March.