On the day of the race I was asked to take the A Team leg at the Gordon Smith relays so I felt like I needed to at least take this into account for my final race plans for the Les Allcorn.
As I mentioned in my race preview blog this more than anything was to be a solid training run and I didn’t want to miss the relay, especially now I was upgraded to A team.
I’d also found a better course profile picture which showed the majority of the climbing should be completed in the first 2 to 2.5 miles of the race. With that in mind I decided the best approach would be to keep average power below 369 watts in the first 4km. I’d then click the lap button and seek to keep average power above 370 watts in the final 6km and see how it felt.
The race kicked off at 7pm near Alnwick Castle so I had to set off at a decent time for the 40 minute drive from Newcastle.
I’ve got a Vespa scooter and hammering down the A1 is always interesting and this ride was all the more interesting for the biblical downpour that ensued for about 15 to 20 minutes. I couldn’t see a thing and got absolutely drenched. Not an ideal start. Then I chose to ignore the big neon sign for the race and instead ended up at a concrete factory!!!
I got there in the end and still had time to pick up my number and have a jog around the beautiful location.
Before I knew it I was on the start line. I started wondering what the hills would be like and, more importantly how the effort was going to feel.
The starting whistle went and we were quickly away. A pack of maybe 4 or 5 runners were away up front but I just tried to focus to settle in at target wattage which I did at around 359-361 watts on the flats.
The first hill was fairly tame but wattage spiked to 367-368 so I tried to just keep it smooth and not push too hard. It then felt like every hill got a little steeper. The steepest had us doing a sharp right hander onto another long gradual climb. My wattage had landed on 370 watts and I was a little isolated with a couple of runners still in sight up ahead meaning I could gauge what was coming next.
I wondered whether 370w was too high already but when it became obvious the worst of the climbing was done I just focussed on stride and trying to take advantage of the more favourable descents, keeping my steps as light as possible.
It was at this point I felt like I was pulling in closer to an Alnwick Harrier who became my immediate target. I was able to pass on quite a steep decline and by doing so was immediately getting closer to another runner in the process. Much further ahead were two Morpeth Harriers. At that stage I thought they were 1st and 2nd but I was mistaken as another Morpeth Harrier must have been further clear.
So in my head I was aiming to catch third which I did not far past 5km. I’d obviously descended much better than I’d climbed. I’d pushed quite hard to get power as close to 369 watts downhill and I’d clicked my lap button at 4km to help with this but I noticed the best I was managing was maybe 365 or 366 watts.
I caught the runner I thought was in 4th and followed for a while trying to suss out how I felt and what to do. At some point he invited me to take over and I decided to speak as I felt we could work together to catch the Morpeth Harrier up ahead. Eventually the lad took over the headwind at which point I noticed the Morpeth lad stop just after a cattle crossing. This was our chance to give it a go.
I took the initiative again but alas it wasn’t to be. I was starting to feel laboured. I’d allowed myself to become a bit disenchanted as I was sure I’d seen and passed the 7km marker only to notice it some minutes later. That demoralised me as was the farmers track which reminded me of Town Moor parkrun. There were puddles to avoid and large stones to be wary of.
I noticed I was struggling to keep power in the high 350s. That spurred me on a little. Focus on effort and nothing else. Push.
Unfortunately at around 8km a decent stitch appeared just under the right rib cage. I can usually deal with them but this one stuck with me until the end.
I started wondering who was coming from behind. I was still in third (or so I thought) and in with a shout of a prize. But I was slowing and gave up my place again never to be regained.
For the first time I started looking at distance on my Garmin. Watch was saying 9.65km. Only 350m to go! I was thinking to myself I could just go now and finish it off. But it never came. By now I knew someone was coming. I looked over my shoulder and saw the Alnwick Harrier who I’d passed before 5km. He was already approaching a sprint.
It was onto the grass finish. I did pick up but not enough. Once he was by I slowed down to a jog, a walk. Over the line…
There isn’t time to write more. It’s onto the Gordon Smith relays.
Thanks for reading!