With the Holme Pierrepont 10K in mind immediately after the Summer Solstice 10K, I was determined to prepare for the race better in the six days I had available than I’d managed for the Long Bennington Race. Work over the weekend meant that I was restricted to a short run on Saturday evening, and a ride on the bike club’s chaingang route on the Sunday morning (with a mile brick run to follow). There was the obligatory jog to the gym, spin, and jog back on the Monday, followed by the other big effort of the week – Witham Wheelers 10 mile TT on the Tuesday evening, which netted a new course PB. Wednesday could have perhaps been a touch easier, but the legs felt good so I went on an easy 10 mile loop on my familiar route, albeit in very wet and unseasonably cold conditions. With no damage done, come Thursday evening the legs felt pretty good!
The Holme Pierrepont 10K was the second in a four race Holme Pierrepont GP Series. The winner is the runner who accumulates the lowest time over all four races – held on consecutive Tuesday’s and Thursday’s. It’s a long established series and is pretty popular, with 285 runners taking part in all four races. Because of work I could only commit to this one race. The event meant a return to the National Water Sports Center, just a few weeks after my first visit for the Notts 10 Mile Race. This race was a lower key event in terms of organisation, but there were many of the same familiar faces around as I warmed up, which would ensure a good, competitive race.
The warm up was unspectacular, two miles in length. As it was up and down the dead straight rowing basin path, I used the opportunity to re-calibrate my Garmin footpod. It measures a KM before performing it’s magic. I was slightly bemused to see me head some way past the 1KM marker, but didn’t think too much of it. On my return I headed to my car to finish changing into race kit, then headed indoors to take some shelter for five minutes or so from the cool, slightly wet conditions. For a late June evening the weather was very disappointing and far cry from the balmy, sunny conditions we enjoyed at the recent Notts 10 mile race at the same venue. Tonight it was very overcast with light rain, only around 14C and a light breeze. For spectators and photographers, the conditions were miserable. For running races though, conditions were nigh on perfect – it would only be that nagging breeze which would perhaps hinder us along the rowing basin coming part way through the opening lap and on the 2km run to the finish line.
I made my way to the start just a minute or two before the scheduled 7:15 start. Mercifully the pre-race briefing was short and it wasn’t long before we were sent on our way. Determined to not repeat the mistake of Long Bennington and the too hard too soon approach, I lined myself just shy of the front of the pack, and found myself probably outside the top twenty in the opening minute or so.
At the front it was a familiar face in Ben Livesey leading the field away – which he has done now at my last four races! The other familiar face ahead of me was Ian Boneham, who was making his race comeback after a more than seven year absence. The talented Grantham runner, who has a 29:30 road 10K PB, has trained a bit with Grantham Running Club and members from it, and had donned the green GRC vest for no other reason than he didn’t have another singlet to wear! I knew he was targeting something around 34 minutes and so was happy to see and attempt to track the familiar vest ahead of me.
As I’d promised myself I kept my powder dry for the opening mile or so and attempted to keep the effort in check. I was therefore somewhat alarmed when I went through the 1km marker in 2:58 which, even with my dodgy maths, is sub 30 minute pace! A minute or two later and my Garmin clocked the first mile at 5:31, and I was satisfied that the KM markers were perhaps not quite in the right positions. Compared to the opening mile at the Solstice, it was only three seconds slower, but thanks to a slight tailwind rather than a stiff breeze to run into, the effort (perceived and looking at average HR) was significantly lower.
The second mile was run partly into a headwind as we turned at the far end of the rowing basin and came back down the other side. By now I’d picked off quite a few runners who had gone off too exuberantly and found myself behind one runner – who I believe was Matthew Nutt of Holme Pierrepont RC. Employing similar tactics when at the Notts 10 (The wind direction was near identical) I stuck resolutely on his tail. After a minute or two he began weaving from side to side in a clear attempt to shake me from his slipstream. I would have considered helping with the pace, but with the second mile a 5:29, I knew I was somewhere near my limit. The awkwardness of the situation was soon resolved when Matthew shot off with a Kenyan inspired burst of pace to almost literally sprint clear of me and catch a group of three runners who were around 20 meters up the road. Initially I laughed at his folly, but to be fair to him, he stayed ahead of me for the entire race, albeit winding up around the same distance ahead as he was when I tailgated him come the finish line.
The third mile, at 5:41, was the slowest of the race. Unlike at the Solstice however, this didn’t mark a deterioration in form. This section of the race included the small rise out of the rowing basin and onto the road that took us out of the Water Sports Center for the section along Adbolton Lane – all of it continuing to be into the slight headwind. Mile 4 was the run to the left turn which took us back onto the Canal Basin. Familiar with this section from the 10 Mile race, I pushed on the effort a little. I was feeling good, running alone but with some vests to attempt to chase down, including Mr Boneham’s, who I perceived was coming back to me a little having been around 30 seconds down the road at one point.
The fourth mile was 5:29 and the fifth saw me push the effort again, clocking a 5:24, despite this section being partially on gravel and featuring the second climb of the race, albeit a very small one. Back on the canal path and I was in a very happy place. I love races where I feel stronger the longer the race goes. I was seeing my average pace get quicker and this inspired me to keep on pushing. I think too reverting to the Nike Frees after a couple of races in the Hoka’s helped – they feel just that little bit faster.
Coming around the top of the rowing basin and onto the near 2km dead straight run to the finish, I sighted two runners ahead of me and made an effort to close them down.I clocked another 5:24 for the sixth mile and there was now just the question of the final 0.2 miles to the finish (or 0.3 as my Garmin was overestimating again).
I caught and passed, briefly, Marlon Dunkley and had my sights on the runner ahead who I sensed was the same runner who I’d tailgated earlier in the race (Matthew Nutt).
Coming into the final 200 meters Marlon came back past me. I could see the finish clock in the distance and it had just clicked past 34 minutes. There would be no PB but a strong finish could see one of best times over the distance.
I didn’t have the sprint in me to get back past Marlon but I was able to follow just behind him as I ground it out to the finish.
I was working hard, evidently unusually so, given the pained expression on the photo above! This battle with Marlon allowed us to close on Matthew Nutt, closing the gap to just a couple of seconds. Marlon was a second ahead of me and I came home seventh in 34:33. This meant I’d clocked my third fastest ever 10K, one second ahead of the time I first broke 35 minutes at the 2013 Leeds Abbey Dash. I was the first V40 finisher too, To my chagrin there would be no prizes on the night, just for the winners in the series overall. All I had was my good time and a new WMA age grade PB of 82.85% (2010 values) to come home with.
For the record, Ben Livesey came second (again), clocking 31:39, 40 seconds behind Michael Cotherd. Mr Boneham finished fourth in 34:15. Not bad for a near 8 year layoff from running!
As far as my racing is concerned, that is it now until a planned 5 mile race in late August (I’ll be continuing the cycling time trials) with summer holidays and other things to factor. Hopefully I can take this good summer form, both running and on the bike, with me into the early autumn season and beyond!