It was a cold, cold morning for the race – it had got down to -7°C overnight and was still -3°C as we were about to leave for the start and it was not something I was particularly looking forward too.
It was the second event after the Bluebell 10k in 2010 I have gone into not intending to actually ‘race’ and it was a strange feeling. I was slightly nervous in the morning despite this and the cold weather didn’t help. I was going to run with a friend from tri club and the plan was to run a steady tempo pace as part of my build up to the London Marathon. Running 4:30 km’s was the plan for around a 1:35 finish time.
The route was an interesting one and not just tarmac roads. The majority was pavement but there was time on grass in parks, trails and cycle paths along the seafront and some time in the mud and shingle beach along the foreshore. Along with the long distance along Southsea seafront it made for a varied and interesting route.
As the gun went and we started running and chatting, something that lasted right till the end! We set off a few rows back from the front at our intended pace and watched quite a few runners go past us in the first km or so, many of whom we would see later in the day.
As it all settled down we maintained our pace well, running very comfortably and easily. The 6th km split was slightly longer as it contained a narrow path along the front and the muddy foreshore but other than that the pace was very consistent as we made our way around the coast.
We started to pass other runners during and after the foreshore section. As we maintained pace others who had started too optimistically slowed and we regularly passed others. In fact only one guy passed us the whole race and that was towards the end of the race and at a pretty good pace so either he was running an impressive negative split or had missed the start and was playing catchup! Either way fair play to him.
We ran comfortably the whole way with one or two quicker km’s thrown in as there were larger groups of runners to catch and pass.
As we neared the finish we made a conscious decision to up the pace slightly at the 12 mile marker and as we headed into the final 200 meters or so had plenty left for a sprint finish to pass a final two competitors. My final chip time was 1:33:37 for a relatively easy run, a good way off what I could run but it was what I set out to do.
It was a very good morning and a lesson in pacing. We passed so many others not by running quicker but just not slowing, something I’ve not been very good at in my last couple of races, the Great South Run last year and the Stubbington 10k in January.
For the majority of the race my heart rate was comfortably in Zone 3 and felt easy. Towards the end a combination of cardiac drift and an actual increase in effort saw that rise into Zone 4 but only just and it was only in the final metres that my heart rate went anywhere near threshold. It is, I hope, a good indication of fitness and there have been no problems with my achilles in the aftermath which is good.
It was also good as this pace, averaging 4:26/km, is pretty much the same as I have managed at both the Swashbuckler and the second run at the Winter Ballbuster last year and given my two ‘A’ races this year are 70.3’s it’s a pace I’ll be hoping to match or hopefully better.
Add to that a 400m swim PB in the afternoon it was a good day.