Today saw me run in my first race of 2013 and my first race in the M40 age group *gasp*, today was the Chichester Priory 10k Road Race. This year was the 22nd year that the event has been run and that was evident from the moment that we turned up. It was run with an almost clockwork efficiency. We arrived in the car park just after 9:30 and were effectively marshalled into a parking space near the finish line. The finish line itself was a big blow up affair set up in the Northgate car park, cordoned off with barriers. There are a few stalls set up, a catering van selling teas/coffee’s and the like, a stall offering up sports massages, sports equipment, T-Shirts and also an area for the fabulous St. John’s ambulance crew along with the ‘Race HQ’ itself.
Parking the car up we could hear the announcer clearly over the tannoy giving everyone a run down of the event, talking about the sponsors, explaining the parking charges and organising the runners to their specific starting areas at the right time as well as telling the spectators to head of to the start a bit earlier. This made a pleasant change, actually being able to hear what an announcer was saying. I leave Rochann and the kids to go get themselves in position at the start line and head off to find my starting group.
I looked around at the marshal’s holding up their signs and picked the 45-50 minute area to go stand in, yes, that’ll do me. Sub 50 is my goal, I’d love to go 45, but that’s not going to happen any time soon! I see my friend Andy, from work, who comes and joins me as we are pretty evenly matched pace wise. We have previously run in the Wyvern 10k together and finished neck and neck with me out sprinting him to the line on that occasion. We stand there amidst the runners huddle, bouncing up and down on the spot in a valiant attempt to stay warm as the morning could be described as ‘somewhat chilly’.
Now this is a new experience for me and a pleasant one at that. They organised us in to these groups in the car park and then the marshal’s walked us down to the start line a half a kilometer or so away from the car park (at a guess). It was all very regimented and structured and all guided by the announcer and his tannoy! Off we went in a jog/march type mass movement and headed to the start line in College Lane, pictured below.
We get prepared and before you know it we’re off! It’s a very crowded start to say the least with just shy of 2000 runners being crammed into this little lane, but never mind that, the horn has sounded and the throng in front edge towards the timing mat, breaking into a jog/run as we cross it. I’m then weaving in and out of people, trying not to run into people in front of me, or bash into people beside me all whilst trying to keep an eye out for Rochann and the kids. A tricky feat!
Andy and I get a bit separated in the throng just as I hear a screech from the left hand side of the road, ‘PAAAUULL!’, accompanied by ‘Daddy!!’, that’ll be Rochann and Ellie up on the wall then, followed by a ‘Go daddy, go!’ from the opposite side of the road, that’d be Josh then. I wave and then focus on the job in hand, trying to set a 7.15 minute mile pace with hundreds of people in my way! “This is not going to be easy” I think to myself as I start dodging and weaving through the crowds. It always amazes me how many people force their way forward before the race starts when it’s pretty clear that they’re not going to run the distance in under an hour, let alone under 45 minutes! It possibly doesn’t help that the start is pretty much straight into the first hill too, some people struggling pretty much from the get go! Oh well.
With Andy sadly out of my peripheral vision I crack on with the task of dodging and weaving, next thing I know the first mile has been and gone and in under 7:15, I think it was done in quite remarkable 7:08! I settle into my stride and focus on my breathing and start thinking about random crap, getting my car fixed, how the hell I’m going to open the bonnet now that the release mechanism has snapped and the fact that it has a flat battery, doh! Next thing I know I’m brought back to each as my watch buzzes, 2 miles has arrived, and I’m just running past the entrance to Rolls Royce and on towards the magnificent Goodwood race track. It’s quite a steady but gentle climb up past the entrance and on towards the roundabout that takes us off to Lavant, and on towards the 3 mile / 5k half way mark. I’m going well at this point, my 2nd mile being done in something like 7:24 (I won’t have exact times until I get the data off my Garmin). I hit the 5k mark in something like 23 minutes, a time very close to my personal best. At 6k we reach the one and only water station, as it’s only a 10k I carry on past this without stopping and continue to maintain a steady pace.
4 miles down, just a couple to go and from what people have said it’s all downhill once we get past the final climb at around 4 1/2 miles. I tried to increase my pace and power up this one which I succeeded to do but the wind was right out of my sails at the top, my breathing ragged and my pace dropping off a little (or at least that’s what it felt like). I see the 8km sign coming up and try and increase my pace again, but not by too much as I want something left for the finish. I press on and on, still over taking people, dodging and weaving, this has been the order of the day. Next thing I know the 9km marker is up and I increase the pace and try to get back towards a 7 min mile type pace. The heavy sex pest breathing returns, along with the odd grunt as I push myself on harder than ever.
I must be getting close to the finish I think to myself as 6 miles buzzes on my watch and I get ushered onto the pavement by marshals, this due to some road works/closures going on. I try and speed up a bit more but I’m spent. The finish area is in sight, I can see a left turn and then round to the right and back into the car park ahead of me. I see the finish line, I’m almost there! I look at my watch again, I’m not making 45 minutes, but I’m on target for around 48 minutes, this is good if my legs can just keep going. I’m round the left hand corner, rounding the right hand corner when I hear a yell, a battlecry, it’s Andy, he’s upon me and sprinting past at great pace.
He must have been shadowing me the whole way and is now out sprinting me to the finish. I attempt to go with him, to catch him, but my legs just don’t have it in them, “she cannae take any more captain” and I cross the line just seconds behind him with the big digital clock reading 48 minutes something.
As you can see from the picture we had both pretty much given it everything, that was a hard run race, but what a great race at that. Looking at my Garmin I’d done the distance in 47:29, but we’ll wait for the official chip time before getting too excited.
Wow! My previous 10k best was 48:22 at the Denmead 10k a few months earlier. I’m over the moon with that even if Andy had pipped me to the post! Time to hand over our chips and collect our mugs (no medal sadly), get a drink from the finish line water station and me up with our respective others who are waiting for us just the other side of the barriers.
Once we’d all met up, drank fluids, congratulated each other again I sauntered off to the race HQ to see what time they had posted for me. It looks like the clockwork efficiency of the organisers was working in full force. I got the notice board and saw that the winner had completed it in an amazing 29:55, a ridiculous time to run 10k in! I scan through the other printed sheets and lo there it is in black and white, Paul Jeffrey of Denmead Striders – Chip time 47:31 – epic!
So what’s next for me? Well as things stand I have the Portsmouth Coastal Half Marathon in a fortnight which I am really looking forward to. I entered that one the day after I completed the full marathon, can’t wait. That may not be all for February though, there is the possibility of a particularly tough 21 miler next Sunday, but we shall see about that one.