Date & Time : 07/03/10 10:00
Distance : 20 miles
Total Training Distance (since beginning Sept 09) : 466 miles
Route & Stats : Wymondham 20m
This race has been on my calendar for several weeks now as a benchmark and line in the sand. Everytime I thought about it the self doubt and concern would come - will I be ready to take on 20 miles 7 weeks before the marathon? Even as little as 2 weeks ago I had virtually decided not to run, using the excuse that the event had come 2 weeks too soon for me.
However, after last weekends really good 14 miler, I was determined to give it a go, even a stinking head cold all week wasn't going to stop me. And boy am I glad I did it - I absolutely loved it. Having completed it in a respectable time of 3h 12m, I now feel very confident that I have a sub 4h 30m marathon in me and am really looking forward to the next 7 weeks as I prepare for the big day.
The race itself was great and well done to Wymondham AC for putting on such a good event. The course was really nice, starting in the market square in Wymondham, out into the countryside and then a couple of 8.5 mile laps through Wicklewood, Deopham and Morley and then back into Wymondham. It was pretty flat, with exception of a long hill up into Deopham at 6m and then 14m which didn't bother me at all, and a nasty little hill a few hundred metres from the finish which did bother me.
However, probably the best part of all was the weather. Clear blue skies and cold light breeze, just about perfect running conditions. It must have been the best day weather wise since early October. What a difference from my last event in Bungay a couple of weeks ago.
I had a deliberate race strategy to treat the race as 4 lots of 5 miles.
I started quite steadily, trying not to go too fast at the beginning, 20 miles was new territory for me and all the advice I had been given was take it easy at the beginning. I dropped into a nice steady rythym almost straightaway and was really enjoying the countryside and the weather.
The first 5 miles ticked by without incident and then I found myself running with Moses from work, who is a fellow novice at this sort of malarky. His company really helped and while we didn't talk much it was certainly a positive distraction having someone to run with. I remember noting all the uphill sections on the first circuit, thinking I wonder what this will feel like after another 8 miles. Going through the 10 mile marker was great, I said to Moses "OK, we're on our way home now".
The next 5 miles were quite challenging and I had to dig in a bit. The hill between 14m and 15m was tough, but after getting to the top and having a drink and my last Go-Gel I felt pretty good and therefore decided to up my pace a little.
The legs were starting to hurt, but the breathing was OK and my energy levels felt good. I found a decent rythym and was also encouraged by the fact that I started to catch and pass quite a few of the runners that had passed me earlier in the race. To be honest the last 5 miles seemed to go quite quickly - I was delighted when I reached the 18 mile marker for 2 reasons - a) I had forgotten that I had passed 17 already and so this felt like a free mile and b) it was the point at which we turned back towards Wymondham and the finish. I have already mentioned the nasty little hill before the finish, but having conquered that I even had a little left in the tank or a sprint finish!
All in all a great experience. I even had enough energy in the afternoon to cycle down to Whittlingham Broad with my 8yr old daugther Ellie and her friend Carmel, who have a school cross country this week and wanted to do some training - how cool is that? Talk about a proud Dad!