A couple of weeks after the nearly disastrous Lincoln 5K, I was putting the body back on the line at Holme Pirrepont for the Jack Walters Memorial Notts 10 Mile Road Race. A week or so of not running, a good massage session and not racing the Woodhall Spa 10K meant that I was reasonably confident that the calf muscle was well healed. Indeed running had been going pretty well, the only dodgy run was just a couple of days before this race when 15 miles in hot conditions took its toll, inducing some kind of migraine that left me unwell for the remainder of the day.
The weather driving to the race at the National Water Sports Centre on the at Holme Pierrepont (On the outskirts of Nottingham) was pleasant for driving with the sunroof open and the windows down – mid twenties celsius, sunny, with a steady to stiff breeze. These conditions were not exactly ideal for racing though.
I arrived in very good time for the evening race, allowing a long drawn out warm up. The mile and a half of jogging masquerading as a warm up revealed little other than both Achilles still aching a fair amount – my calf stretching routine partially working in minimising the discomfort but not yet wholly so. It was this aching which made me opt to wear my Hoka Clifton 2s rather than my Nike Frees for the race.
Conditions were still warm at 7:15 for the start, so much so that I made a point of trying to seek shade wherever possible. I did though have to line up for the start with hundreds of others. We had a moving speech from the son of Jack Walters, an stalwart of the sport who had passed away and was having this raced dedicated in his memory for the next few years. After a minute’s applause and a pre-race briefing we were ready to begin, all stood behind the line of flour that constituted the start line.
I made a brisk but controlled start, got a bit caught up in among some runners who stormed off then slowed dramatically, but within a few minutes I was comfortably into my running. The course took us out of the rowing arena itself and on a adjacent road (Adbolton Lane) before taking a mostly gravelly path that took us back midway along the 2km long rowing basin. We ran an anticlockwise loop of the basin before leaving arena again to cross the start line to complete another full lap, before running another half lap, only this time taking a left where we had previously turned right at the rowing basin to run a KM or so to the finish line.
We were aided by the tailwind for much of the opening two and a half miles. I went through the first mile in 5:40, the second mile in a quicker 5:29. As we took in a small rise before a descent onto the rowing basin, I was in a small group who looked as though we could catch another group in front of us. On the rowing basin path I knew there was only a couple of minutes of running before we would turn and face a strong headwind. I pushed on the pace to make a concerted effort to catch the group ahead of us.
I managed to bring the two groups together. The group ahead had contained Strava friend and Holme Pierrepont Running Club member David Greenwood, who I know is of a similar ability to myself. Playing the tactical game I tucked in behind him and stuck resolutely to his slipstream as we began the near 2km long stretch into the headwind on the regatta lake. This meant the pace slowed a bit – back to 5:39 for the third mile and 5:46 for the fourth mile, but I was happy to be conserving my energy, trying also to keep cool in the still warm conditions.
Approaching the end of the rowing basin a young runner who had caught our group pushed on and ahead of David. Sensing an opportunity to grab a good tow I followed his tail and we pulled clear of the group as we left the regatta lake via a small incline. I sat behind him for a few minutes before I sensed his pace slowing. Having now begun the second lap and enjoying again a tailwind I was happy to help with the pace. After around 90 seconds of leading my new running buddy pushed on and set the pace again. And so this continued for almost exactly one lap. The fifth mile was a 5:43, the sixth quicker at 5:36, the seventh 5:40 as we began again to hit a tailwind and the eighth my slowest of the race at 5:49 as we ran a total headwind mile.
Our pace sharing had meant we passed a fair few runners on Adbolton Lane and began to slowly but inexorably close down on a group of three runners ahead, including the second placed woman. We caught them on the final ascent of the small ramp out of the rowing basin. It was here I pulled clear of my young running friend who began to wilt. Indeed by now the heat was beginning to take its toll on the field, running along the Adbolton Lane for the third and final time I passed several runners for whom the temperatures were just too high to continue running at pace.
I was suffering too, I was beginning to shiver – a tell tale sign in the heat of dehydration, but I dug in, helping myself a touch at the final water station by ignoring drinking from the cup of water pouring it straight over my head! The ninth mile was a 5:44, the final mile saw us back onto the rowing basin for the long run into a headwind to the finish. I had two runners ahead of me who I could target and managed to pass. The tenth mile was a 5:43, my Garmin was as unreliable as ever and so had a good fifth of a mile left to run, which saw me muster something of a sprint as I came home to cross the finish line seventeenth overall in 57:41.
This was a result I was very pleased with. My 10 mile PB is 57:20, ran on a cool December morning. This race was run in less than ideal conditions and aside from some aches in the Achilles I ran it free of any issues. Indeed the body felt pretty fresh after the race, I felt the limiting factor to my pace in the race was the heat. This was partly borne out the following morning at Belton House parkrun when I wound up easily finishing first in similarly warm conditions. If my body had been shot on the Friday, there was no way I could have run on the Saturday morning.
This confidence boosting race done and dusted, attentions were focused to my running club’s flagship race – the Summer Solstice 10K.