Wow! – What a great day out!
As I blogged here, training for #RunReigate thus far had gone well, and in the week leading up to the race, I was well into a good taper before race day. Sadly, things don’t always go quite as they should do.. Roll on the Thursday before the race, I woke up with a sore throat, and sniffles. Perfect timing…! I spent the next 48 hours or so dosing up on berocca & vitamin c, and also drinking as much fluid and orange juice as possible to try and not descend into a snotty hellish existence, and in an attempt to pull myself out of potential man-flu doldrums.
Good news was that by the Saturday before the race I was at 95%, albeit with a slightly runny nose, and tickly throat.
I rose early and had what has recently constituted my racers breakfast – x2 waffles, beans, x2 poached eggs and toast, a small serving of leftover sausage pasta from the previous nights mini carb-load session, and x2 pancakes with maple syrup.
All kitted up and prepared, I hopped in the car with my cheerleading squad (Julie), and drove the M25 from Stevenage around to Reigate – a route that I knew very well as this was a return to my childhood stomping ground!
First hurdle passed – no issues on the M25 – meaning that we arrived with a good amount of time to kill before the race, meaning that I was not at all rushed – result.
The organisation of the day was really good – everything was laid out well, easy to find, and signed very well. Only quibble would be more portaloos, and ensure that they are all visible – there was a full bank of vacant portaloos behind another bank of portaloos completely out of sight…! The road closures from the M25 were a minimal issue, and I found parking relatively easy, and only a short walk to the start/finish line – bonus.
Roll on 915am and the start line ‘jostle’. Run Reigate were operating a rolling start which in fairness seemed to work really well. My friends (Anthony & Rich) who had previously run in the inaugural event in 2014 mentioned how there was a rather large bottle neck at the start which eventually caused some degree of walking – PB hunters could be potentially disheartened by this! – however in 2015, this was not an issue.
I felt relatively content before the race, no last minute nerves, & no panic pees..!
My hydration strategy beforehand had gone well (high5 berry), and I had sufficient energy gels of a mix of flavours (summer fruits, orange & apple) for the duration of the race at a rate of 1 gel every 20mins, with x1 wild berry energy bar and x1 gel before the race.
When we got moving, it was quite tricky to find enough space to not trot, so for the first 100yards or so, i was quickly darting to find some gaps and allow the full crowd to dissipate. At the top of Cockshot Hill, i had got into a good rhythm (albeit slightly quicker than I perhaps had wanted), and was settled. Anthony & Rich caught me up at some point going down Cockshot Hill and I ran with Anthony until the entrance to Lonesome Lane, at which point I think I sped up slightly as the lanes had narrowed and I was running shoulder to shoulder with some people which is something I really dislike. At some point along Lonesome Lane, I passed an old school friend and gave him a nod also which was quite nice.
When I reached the water station at Lodge Lane at around 5km, I felt great. I grabbed two bottles, and instigated the same hydration strategy as I had used at Milton Keynes:
- hydrate with 2 bottles at each water stop
- bottle 1 to drink as required (not too much)
- bottle 2 for cooling – ie. chuck over ones head
- if by the next watering station bottle 1 has not run out, do a bottle 2 with bottle 1!
- collect more water, & rinse and repeat…!
This worked perfectly again. By now it was actually getting quite warm – approaching 10am, and clear blue sky, i was actually wondering if I should have bought my visor with me.
A good push down to the turning point on the A217 near the Black Horse at 9.5km and 47mins down, and in my mind I was on the home straight. As i was bought up in this area, i knew the roads relatively well. In my mind, the drive from the Southern point of Reigate / Woodhatch to Horley only seems to take a few minutes, however running it was a completely different story! It turns out it is a good 5km / 6km or 25 / 30mins run in itself. I must admit, I loved this part of the run. The group had opened right up, i was well into my stride, and the suns oreination at this time of the day allows for a pleasant amount of shade, with some broken sunlight – I must say, it was really nice to be back in Surrey again – if only for a few hours…!
The turn onto Sandcross Lane came with me at 1hr15m odd on the clock at just over 15km, so I knew that I was going to be really tight to a sub 1hr 45min. In fact, coming down the A217, I was acutely aware I had caught the 1hr50 pacemakers up even though they had left some 4 minutes or so before I left, which reaffirmed that i was going to be really close to my target!
Only a few hundred metres had passed and I had drawn level with the 1hr50m pacemaker and asked her time on her clock, and she was at 1hr20mins whereas mine was showing 1hr 17mins – in effect I was 3mins ahead!
Beyond Sandcross Lane and onto Flanchford Road was the next phase of the race. The next few miles were actually one that I would consciously be controlled over. I was acutely aware that there was a fairly epic hill in the last mile or so, so I wanted to conserve some energy for that hill (heck, by now, it had its own #hashtag!).
What I hadn’t prepared myself was for running through treacle…! At around 18/19km, we turned off onto what can only be described as pure unadulterated ankle and running hell. We were running on a horse training circuit..! Sandy, fibrous, barky surface cover – it was horrendous – heavy, claggy, soft and really not how you want your legs to feel in the closing stage of a half marathon…!
Anyhow – moan over – as we exited the gallops, collected my carrot, and then progressed a short run up to the start of the hill section, that i had read so much about via twitter.
What a hill – bloody marvelous.
- Yes it was a pain in the arse.
- Yes it was the worst place to have it.
- Yes it broke some people.
- Yes it was far from ideal.
I loved it..!
When I set off on my running adventure, my triathlon journey, and latterly my half Ironman experience, it was this sort of thing that became the challenge for me – pushing oneself beyond the boundary, out of your comfort zone and setting new goals. Even the smallest hill can prove to be the biggest of challenge. This for me was all about challenging myself, setting myself goals, and things that I could really achieve, and things that I could drive to achieve.
This year, I know that I have prepared myself well in the challenges I have undertaken, and when I hit the foot of that hill, I powered up it, and didn’t look back.
I would like to say I passed 10 people – I know that I would be lying. I passed far more people than that and I felt great.
Reaching the top of that hill was an amazing experience – there were a lot of people at the top cheering you on, and I really felt the achievement. Without wishing to sound arrogant – in all honesty, it was a pussy cat of a climb – from 72m at 19.46km to 105m at 20.23km, which equates to a rise of only 33m in 0.77km. I think a lot of the build up was down to the expectation & the lateness of it in the run – if i am completely honest, people had psyched themselves out of running up that hill even before they hit the hill.
Either way – kudos to the runners who ran up it; & kudos to the runners that got that far. We were nearly home.
The final run down the hill and into Priory Park felt brilliant.
As I entered the park, you could see right to the finish line, which was only around 400m or so away and lined with hundreds of people – by now, I was clear that I was going to be close to a personal best, and as such I put my foot down, breaking into a really good sprint to cross the line.
I have to say, it felt really good crossing the line – I had prepared well for this, I had got some good mileage under my belt, I was almost 100% fit save for a cold (which actually didn’t hamper me at all), and my body felt rested, and yet again a good weeks taper had worked wonders…!
I knew before I crossed the line that I had got a Personal Best of 1hr:46m:44s from the result off my garmin, but I had just narrowly missed out on going under my target time of 1hr45m.
I was dead chuffed with my performance on the day, the medal, my time, the personal best, and the glorious fried breakfast that appeared shortly afterwards!
Avg Pace 05:03 min/km