Wednesday, 13 April 2016

"Round the Houses" ?? - well, the name does describe the route rather well......

A lovely surprise pressie from Fiona ;-)
Having never been one to sit around moping, I decided that I should get out and run on Sunday rather than sit around following marathons that I'd planned to be racing. I wasn't confident enough of my return to form and fitness to go to the Scottish 10 mile championships, so instead opted for the Jim Dingwall "Round the Houses" 10 K in Grangemouth. I thought this would be a lower key event, and it would also give me the opportunity to catch up with my lovely "running mum" Fiona Matheson (her club organise the event, and it was actually the 50th running of it).

Not really the most inspiring route!!!
Little did I know that there were only 300 runners in the Strathclyde Park 10 mile race, whereas almost 1000 had entered the 10K. While registering, I heard that it was set to have the highest quality field of any race so far this year in Scotland.....which was quite surprising, as the route isn't exactly scenic, though it is rather fast and flat. Still, as I caught up with Freya Ross in the toilet queue, and then watched Hayley Haining jog past my car, they did seem to have a point. I met up with Fiona, we commiserated each other over various tendon issues (interestingly, neither of us had suffered with the usual running Achilles problem - hers was a tendon in her foot, and mine my shin!), went for a jog, gossiped and spotted various other familiar faces lining up. The race was doubling up as the Scottish University 10K Championships so I knew there would be speedy youngsters, but when I also saw Lesley Chisholm and Jenny McLean, I didn't think I'd even have a chance of making the top 3 LV40s.

Although the race started down a wide road, we were penned in quite closely to make sure that everyone crossed the chip mats, so I took my usual place right at the side and off the front so that I could get away without any mishaps (I wonder when that fear will leave me?). There's little to say about the route as it really does go "around the houses" in a big square and is mostly on main roads. The first few miles seemed rather fast, but I was well back in the ladies' field, but after a mile or so I started to close the gaps to those in front of me. It's always tempting to relax and take your foot off the gas whatever the race distance, but gradually reeling people in does motivate you to keep going.
A short track finish

I'm not used to chasing so many (young) ladies in a race, but it made for a good tussle. I'd get past one and then she'd overtake me again, and then we'd both move up on the person in front. Unfortunately this did mean that I was running wide on a very long gradual left hand bend into a breeze as I wasn't going fast enough to get ahead, but slightly too fast to tuck in behind. I was trying to keep my eye on Lesley up ahead as I know she is slightly quicker than me over the shorter distances. I hoped that she would drag me along to a decent time, and my watch did have me just ahead of PB pace at the halfway point.

Much to my delight, I caught and passed her at the 8K point, with all of us ladies slowly creeping up the overall field. The end of the race is not the best, psychologically speaking, as you have to run past the stadium, turn 180 degrees round bollards in the road, run back a kilometre, and then skirt round the back of the track. When you finally skid round onto the track, you've less than 100m to go for it to the finish line. I was managing to keep in touch with the girls in front, but knew their young legs would have more of sprint in them than I did.

You have to love a printout of your time as soon as you finish
Although I know I should be pleased with my time, it was actually disappointing to see the finish clock, as I must have run the second 5K slower than the first, despite moving up the field. When I looked at my watch afterwards it was my 4th mile that was the slowest one, as each mile after that got progressively quicker again. Still, I was happy with my run all things considered- and it is testament to the depth of the field that my time (which was over a minute faster than the first lady ran in 2014) put me in 10th position (though only 21s separated positions 4-10)....but you have to challenge yourself and race faster ladies if you want to get the best out of yourself!

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