Sunday 4 September 2011

Race: The Weald St. George's 10k

Sunday 4 September 2011.

The day had come for my pre-Tonbridge half-marathon 10k warm-up race. This one took place in the picturesque village and countryside of Sevenoaks Weald.

We live fairly close to the Weald, so for a change we didn't have to leave really early in order to arrive on time. As we approached the Weald we easily spotted the signs to the car park. There were plenty of marshals on hand to organise the parking. It all went very smoothly.

We parked up and I changed into my running shoes. Then I remembered that I hadn't filled out the emergency information on the back of my race number. I had already attached this to my top before leaving the house so had to unfasten it to fill in the boxes. That was fine, but as I discovered once we got back home, had anything happened I would have been in trouble because the pen I used wasn't a ball point and during the race the ink had transferred itself onto my running top! Whoops.

We headed off in the direction of the village green, where we were pleased to see lots of people milling around. A few gazebos had been erected, one was being used as a timing chip collection point, and a shop had been set up to sell running shoes and t-shirts in another. A third gazebo was home to St. George's church (hence the race name), who were having an outside Sunday service. It was interesting to hear all the running related metaphors being used (the race to heaven etc - Although I don't think it's a race I'd particularly want to try for a pb in!). Anyway that wasn't really our scene so we wandered around for a bit.

I checked out the hill that I would encounter twice in this race, firstly at the start going down and then again right at the end going in the opposite direction. It was steep!

dame kelly with the air horn
Before I knew it the time had flown by and the race was upon us. I had my good luck kisses from the wife and the baba and headed off to become part of the 307 people at the start line. The race was to be started by double Olympic gold medal winner Dame Kelly Holmes. She was already in position with the air horn. As I lined up I bumped into fellow Riddlesdown parkrunner Graeme Drysdale, who gave me a few tips on the course. I did spot another Riddlesdown runner but I'm not sure of his name.

Then it was time to start. We had a countdown and Dame Kelly blasted the air horn!

The general course description would be that the first half is mainly downhill and the second half mainly uphill, but it wasn't as clean cut as that. I set off at a fairly conservative pace as the first decent had worried me during my inspection. My IT bands sometimes play up with downhill running. Today they were fine.

20 metres done, only 9980 left
I wondered if I might see some of the amazing scenery of the Weald but the country lanes are narrow and lined with thick bushes and trees, there was also a trail section (which was fun). It was a case of focusing on the race. In a first for me I chatted to a couple of runners during the race about this and that - mostly about our goal times for the race.

So I continued going up and down the country lanes quite happily and as I reached the drinks station I heard one of the marshalls shout 'half-way'. I couldn't believe I was at the 5k mark already. I checked my watch and my time to this point was 21:15.

I entered the uphill second half wondering what would be in store for me. There were a few hard sections but mostly I felt fine.

As I re-entered the Weald village and hit the 8km mark all I could think of was the hill that was to come! I ran through the trail section for the second time today and by the 9km mark the road had changed to a mild incline that gradually got steeper. I plodded on until I reached the section I had been afraid of. I could have sworn that I was barely moving, the speed was similar to walking but using the motion of running. Although I was suffering a great deal, I wasn't suffering quite as much as the runner in front of me and I passed him on the hill.

on the final straight
The incline gradually leveled off and after regaining some control over my breathing, began to feel the life coming back into my body. I was almost at the end. I could hear people cheering on the village green. I got to the final corner and gave everything I had for the last 100 metres. I was happy that I was able to put in a sprint finish (or what felt like one) after that last hill.

I crossed the line, had my timing chip removed and my medal placed on me by Dame Kelly Holmes.
My chip time: 44:16

Full results are here.

i love this medal (click photo for a larger view)
I grabbed a complimentary bottle of water and banana, found the wife and baba and then it started to rain. So instead of hanging around we went straight back to the car. I felt sorry for the runners that we walked past that still hadn't reached that final hill, I heard a comment about it being mean to walk past them wearing the finisher's medal while they struggled on, it was all in jest and I continued to encourage all the runners that we encountered.

I was very happy with the way it worked out. While the time was not groundbreaking, it was decent for the course and I enjoyed it thoroughly. The organisation was spot on, there were plenty of marshalls, and the course was clearly marked. Also the results were online very soon after the event. I have a feeling that I'll be back next year.

the ladies
The wife was in charge of camera duties again. The blog would be pretty plain without her input - you've heard it before but thanks.


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