Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Kent AC - Sidcup 10 Road Race

Ah, race day.  It had been a while since I'd been involved in one of these.  It cannot be said I'm a serial racer.  With only two official half marathons, four marathons and three KFL cross-country races behind me, this was probably the first race I'd entered since the Bexley Grammar senior cross country competition in the '93/'94 academic year!

I was wide awake by 7am.  I left Alison in bed and crept downstairs to the kitchen.  It was all about the customary pre-run porridge, a cup of tea and catch up with MOTD.  Due to the fixture scheduling, Spurs had MOTD all to themselves last night which was nice.

What the hell was that out of the kitchen window?  Was it really sunlight?  Well this was a surprise.  After what feels like months of training in sub-zero temperatures, there's always a day early in the year which catches everyone by surprise and this potentially could be it.

Hmm, tights or shorts?  The tights won.  So did the sleeveless base layer and running vest.  May as well treat this race as a proper marathon warm up in marathon conditions.

Jumped in the car and drove the 15 mins from Petts Wood to Chislehurst & Sidcup Grammar School.  I remember vividly my last visit to 'Chis & Sid', way back twenty years ago as a naive teenager, with a tendency to flail outside off stump in the 'corridor of uncertainty' to any bowler able to bowl a decent line and length.

'Chis & Sid' smashed us to all parts, totting up 250+ in 40 overs.  The gulf in class was clear when we were sent packing with a dismal 19 all out.  Hopeless just about summed us up.  We were back at school before the lower school had even seen the afternoon's lessons out.  The highlight of the day was our stand-in PE teacher sharing out the B&H Gold cigarettes to console us after a heavy defeat.

Anyhow, back to present time...

I arrived at the car park and quickly dashed into the building to grab some safety pins to attach my number to my running vest and I was all ready to go.  I was surrounded by proper athletes here.  There were running vests on show from all around.  They were all doing their warm ups in the car park and there was I, reading the paper and listening to Kistsory on the car DAB.

Plums vest all set for the Sidcup 10

With 15 mins to go, I thought I really should go and do some sort of warm up and actually go and find out where we were starting from.  Luckily, as soon as I walked back into the building, I bumped into fellow Plum Lee Walker who said it was just him, Richard John and Dawn Saunders running today.

After a quick comfort stop and a chat and photo with my fellow Plums, we walked down to the start on the other side of the car park.  It was a reasonably small turn out, around 400 runners but thats more than enough given the route involved.

Plums on tour.  From left to right:  Richard, Dawn, myself and Lee W

I had absolutely nothing to fear with the Sidcup 10.  I'd run all parts of the route with the Plums at one time or another, so knew exactly what I was faced with.

Nice and straight forward. A 3 lap race, the 1st lap being a little longer with a slight deviation around a block but that was about it. Out of the school and turning left onto Hurst Road and then following the circuit anti-clockwise via Harcourt Avenue, Sherwood Park Avenue, Willersley Avenue and Halfway Street.

When I signed up to the race, my goal target was completing the 10 miles in around 8:30 min/mile pace.  Anywhere between 1:25 and 1:26 I would have been very happy.  My Half Marathon PB pace is 8:53 min/mile pace set back in April 2013 so I was keen to lay down a marker.

As you can see from the table below, I havent ran 10 miles very often and never at 'race pace'...

I have to admit that I didnt really enjoy the next 1hr 25 mins as much as I probably should have done.  I went off far far too quick in the first mile and paid for it later in the race.

The 4 Plums started together.  Dawn was already into the distance as we approached the end of Hurst Road.  Lee Walker was with me up until we left Sherwood Park Avenue for the first climb up Willersley Avenue and Richard had already dropped behind.

A first mile of 8:10 was suicidal really.  I knew my goal pace was 8:30 min/mile pace so why on earth I allowed myself to get sucked into the race I'll never know but this happens time and time again.  Miles 2-4 was comfortable, 5 was labouring and 6-8 were hard but not quite a real struggle.  By the 8 mile marker, I knew I was almost home and comfortable again despite an almost labouring pace of just under 9 min/mile.

The marshalls done a sterling job, stopping the traffic, encouraging the athletes and providing us with water at the water station.  I was well in the zone as I approached the water station for the first time with my head down and only looked up when I heard a cry of "Come on you Plum" to see Les Pullen smiling at me.

Les has had a tough old time recently following a heart attack at the Portsmouth Marathon just before Christmas yet he still turns up religiously at events like this, unable to run but supporting everyone else around.  What a top bloke!  He really should be up for some sort of inspirational award for his efforts.

On the end of the second lap, Brian Page asked me if I'd seen any 'cockwombles' on my travels while he was happily snapping away at the runners.  Thanks to Brian for the picture below.

1:25:24 on the Garmin as I crossed the line.  Official time of 1:25:28 but no chip timings so going with the Garmin as more accurate. Second Plum home behind Dawn who was flying, followed in shortly after by Richard and Lee came home in just over 1:30.

Hit my target window of 1:25-1:26 so was happy, setting a new PB for 10 miles of 2 mins and 8 seconds was the icing on the cake.  Hmmm cake, did someone mention cake?  Running 8:32 min/mile pace, I really should now be looking to get my Half Marathon PB down to 1:50ish if I properly concentrate on my pacing and dont go out too fast.

10 miles is a marmite distance.  You either love it or hate it.  Its stuck between a rock and a hard place.  I'm most definitely a fan.

Despite the race route being local and running these roads numerous times with the Plums over the last couple of years, I'll definitely be back to run the Sidcup 10 again.  Its a real good race and one I would recommend.  If you get bored easily by running the pavements then this isnt the race for you.

On my way to another PB in the Sidcup 10 (Photo courtesy of Brian Page of SLGR)

The Plums post-race

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