My low mileage week was even easier than I had intended. Owing to work and life stuff I managed just three runs before Sunday’s Snake Lane 10 mile race. At least it meant that I had fresh legs for one of my favourite race distances.
This was to be the fourth time I’ve raced the Snake Lane 10 at Pocklington. It’s a lovely course – rural and flattish with a few rollers to keep it interesting. However, a late February race date in the shadow of the Yorkshire Wolds meant that we had to face up to the traditional stiff winds.
I travelled across with team mates Sean and Liz and we topped up our caffeine levels with a coffee before the start. I had time for a short warm up of a mile or so before I settled in about three rows back in the start pen.
I knew the wind would be against us for most of the second half of the race, so it was tough to know how to approach it. I decided to try to run around 6 minutes per mile for the first half and then just see how I coped with the wind once we turned into it at Bishop Wilton.
I bumped into old mate James Allinson from New Marske Harriers in the start pen. I’d run with him at the Locke Park 20 and Manchester Marathon in the past and I follow him on Strava. He’d being going well recently and I’d noticed that he had just beaten the hour for this race in 2016 – a race I missed through injury.
James hared off at the start, leaving me well behind. I ran the first few miles as I had planned, all at around 6 minutes, except for the draggy uphill fourth mile. I felt OK, I was working hard, but I kept my breathing and heart rate under control. I often listen to other runners breathing in the middle part of a race. A few other competitors were clearly breathing a lot harder than I was, which gave me a little boost.
I had a bit of luck just as we made the left hand turn into the block headwind. I was running with a lad from Stainland Lions and we were passed by two fellows from East Hull running together. One was a strapping lad, at least six feet three, a perfect windbreak, so I jumped right in behind him.
They ran the perfect pace for me through the twisty Snake Lane section – just fast enough so that I had no thought of passing them, but not so fast that I couldn’t sit in behind. A bunch of about six formed and I told myself to be really patient and just wait behind the pack leaders for as long as I could. Because of the wind, the pace had slowed to around 6:15 per mile, but I was working hard and concentrating to make sure I stayed ‘on it’.
With about two and a half miles to go, we turned left onto a main road for the final stretch back to Pocklington. There were a couple of small climbs on this section and I was struggling on the inclines. I dropped a few metres off the back of the group on each climb, but I gritted my teeth and worked hard to get back on each time the road flattened.
With a mile to go, I could see the village church up ahead and I spotted the light blue vest of James from New Markse – I was gaining on him.
I decided to try and really drill it for the final mile – six minutes of suffering to see if I could make up a few places. I passed the others in my group and set off in pursuit of James and his group of four or five. As I passed the sign saying “400M to go” I decided to open up my sprint.
I overtook the backmarkers in James’ group, but he had clocked me and was gunning it to the finish himself. Around the final bend, I kicked up my sprint again and passed another three in the final straight, finishing about three seconds behind James in a time of 1:00.56. I finished 23rd overall in a field of 959.
I was pleased with my run – in that wind it was probably worth a sub 60 minute time on a still day. I paced it well and managed to dig in a few times when it was feeling really hard in the second half.
I was delighted to learn that I had even managed to bag my first ever age category win – first MV50 and £30 in English cash money!:
This week, I really ought to step the miles up again, but I have a few work things on that may make that difficult. My next target race, the Bath half marathon, is only twelve days away.
LM -8 weeks
30.5 miles longest run 10 miles
parkrun (Roundhay) 20:52 (20th)
Weight 11 St 1.2 lbs
Aerobic efficiency on Sunday run – 951 beats per mile