I ran this event last year - See Blog – and I had a bit of nightmare of a race. No excuses I blew it so this year I wanted and knew I could do so much better..
Like most races I got there early & got booked in. I went to a 1.5 mile warm up - along the High Street & past my Aunt & Uncle`s old house - the old Garage now Stokes Of Stockbridge – nice memories. I didn`t venture too far up the hill going out of Stockbridge. As I jogged out to my Aunt new house I saw Sandra & Ian - which is also nice to see familiar faces at races..
After the race briefing we formed up - I was thinking about the race tactics & how it was going to roll out - keeping it steady in the first two miles, before `attacking` the hill (the place where it went all wrong last year) & using the downhill section at mile 4 to `carry` me home….only for my thoughts to be interrupted by fellow Frimley Lodger (& 1st place finisher of the previous day`s Winchester parkrun) - Dave Bush who was jogging out along the Test Way & causing all sorts of `trouble` with our race marshals….
We started & around the small estate we went before heading past the Pub & Church…here I notices that Sandra was just in front …”ok time to back off” I checked the Gamin and I didn`t think 7:22 m/m pace was `too fast` - I gave a high 5 to the marshal holding the gate & back along towards the start finish area - I noted the course was a bit slippy…maybe wearing the Brooks T6`s racers wasn`t the best move in the world !!
We went around the Pub & Church again & out onto `Cow Drove Hill` - I knew from last year this started off flat before a sharp corner & the start of the hill. As I was getting into my rhythm two runners came almost alongside & starting chatting to each other - it was almost they were having a contest who could be the most negative… "This pace won't last", "Don`t know why I bothered entering this race when I know I`m not going to do well" etc etc….. arrgghhh - why be so negative ???? I just thought this is good practice to keep positive despite all of that talk…
Up past the sharp corner & up `the rise` - there was a small group of 6 runners in front - still early days. Pace wise still ok & feeling relaxed. As we progressed up the hill I went past this small group & started to pick off a few runners up the hill. I was feeling great - swinging the arms like a loon, driving forward. I saw the water station at the top and knew it was far till we turned down along the `Test Valley` - I had actually forgotten how much downhill there was and that this first section was almost road rather than trial,…I didn`t look at the Garmin but I knew I was going fast by the numbers of runners I was overtaking…
We hit the trail of the `Test Valley` it was quite sticky - both underfoot & weather conditions as we were under trees. There was a runner in front - about 10 secs & then a pair of runners in front of him - these were my targets . I felt so much better than last year so if I kept the pace going I would be ok… I did think the guy in front was also using the runners in front as `targets` - I tried my hardest to catch him but I wasn`t really getting anywhere…..
Past the Marshal on the gate - another `high 5` - I knew where I was…one final last push I thought…oh make that we both thought. I could see the finish..& went though. I shook his hand & said to him he was my target - he knew….
I looked at the Garmin - so pleased I had kicked into touch last year`s race…45:42 was totally surprising. This is a good race & so pleased I could give it justice.
Splits - 7:24, 7:42, 7:49, 7:14, 7:50, 7:08, 0:33 (0.09@ 6:10)
Next up - This Sunday is the Farnham Half Marathon. Yes a half - I switched from the full just after the Salisbury Marathon when my toe / knee / hip hurt - a good decision bearing in mind next Saturday`s jog along the canal at the JW Ultra.