Walking the dog before leaving for this race with my sister I assessed how I felt and the weather. I hadn’t slept that well the night beforehand, so certainly wasn’t raring to go. The morning was glorious, cold, there had been a hard ground frost from the night before, but beautiful all the same. This immediately lifted my spirits up, the sun was just rising from below the hill-line and creating a stunning start to the day.
Bourton-on-the water, where the race is being held, is a picturesque Cotswold village, near where I live. The course is renowned for being flat and fast, great for first-timers or more experienced runners chasing a pb, weather conditions permitting. So, I knew if all the planets were aligned, I had a chance of getting a course pb, beating my 51:33 time from last year, or my current 10k pb of 51:28.
We got to the race in good time, picked up our number and then we were ready to head to the start for a warm-up. The atmosphere was already great, there were lots of other Almost Athletes from my club, making for a very cheerful lead-up to the race. It was so chilly, we decided to shake our legs out and go for a little jog around the village. The time zoomed by and in no time, we were lined up at the start for the race briefing.
The countdown went and the race began, the course started in the centre of the high street and then proceeded to the outskirts of the town in a loop back round lovely quaint bakery shops, tea rooms, a bridge over a little stream where some ducks were having a Sunday morning dip, back up into the high street, past the spectators, who were cheering and clapping and then back round the loop again.
On the first loop I kept a close eye on my minute miles, I had done four miles in the week, a warmup, two eight-minute miles and cool-down and had found holding on to the eight-minute mile tough-going, so I really wasn’t sure what to expect from my marathon training legs. I glanced at my watch and was pleasantly surprised to see it read 7:44 minute miles, this came as a slight shock as the pace was comfortable which boosted my confidence that I would happily be able to cruise along at this pace for the time being.
We looped round back into town for the second time, past the amazing, cheering crowd, the atmosphere was so uplifting and helped carry us on our way out of the high street. To get to see the marshals and crowd three times during the race was brilliant. The conditions were perfect, no wind, a cool temperature along with the bright sun. For the next part of the course we headed out on a long straight road out of Bourton. The first mile flashed up 7:46, my legs felt good, I eased into the pace and started to relax into the race. Two chaps from our club came by and so I fell into step just behind them. I started to yoyo with different runners as we all found our preferred pace after the exciting start. Mile two came and I was sat comfortably on eight-minute miles, exactly where I wanted to be as we exited Bourton and headed towards Little Rissington.
We travelled along the long small country roads and at three and a half miles there was a small incline. My three-mile split flashed up and showed I was running at an 8:02 minute mile. I knew I had time in the bank from mile one, so I was fine with being sat just on eight. It was a long gradual incline, but enough to tell your legs you had changed gears. At this point in the race the speedy runners had turned and were on their way back to home, running adjacent to me as I made my way up the slight incline. I loved this part of the race, it was so uplifting and motivating to see the speedy runners cheering for their fellow club members as they passed I could see some on my fellow club runners now, it was all so exciting as they passed and gave cheery waves, thumbs ups and words of encouragement, I was loving it, this race was going a dream.
I was still holding on to my predicted time finish of just under 50 minutes as I turned and heading for home myself. Passing more Almost Athletes heading up to the turn in the course, I saw my sister and gave a cheery wave, as I descended back down into the village of Bourton. At this point I then started to refocus and told myself there was still a lot of work to do and I didn’t want to blow it all by not preserving my energy for the home loop back in Bourton.
Mile 5 flashed up, 7:49, I was still sat comfortably with this pace as was on track for my predicted sub-fifty finish time. I carried along
I had 1.70 miles to go and I really felt I could’ve upped the pace and emptied the tank as I progressed to the finish but would that dash my hopes of a sub 50 if I went to early, would I have enough to hold on for that distance at a faster pace and if I didn’t would the crowds and fellow Almost Athletes runners cheers carry me home, but, after all these thoughts I told myself to hang back a little while longer and only slightly sped up my pace, knowing if I could hold it I would achieve my goal. 1.40 miles left as I started to progress and reached the outskirts of the village once more. I was feeling strong as I headed back into the Bourton centre, as we passed the crowds to do our final loop.
Mile 6, 7:49 minute mile, 400m till home and I knew I had it! My smile was wide as I waved and blew kisses at the Almost Athlete supporting children. I pushed on harder for the final stretch I knew I had it!! I approached the finish line literally bouncing up the home straight screaming, hollering and air punching as I crossed the line. My final time was 49:08, I had done it and entered the Sub 50 club.
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