Thanks to Mark Weight entering but then chaging plans I got to have his number for this popular race.
This race always sells out quickly and has a reputation as being a quick pb course. Personally I don’t really see why people consider the pb potential higher high than half the other courses I have run. As Mark decided nice and early to not run this the race the organisers were happy to transfer the race number to me meaning I didn’t need to run under another name.
Abingdon is Oxford way so took about an hour to get there and with a 9:30 start I didn’t leave until about 7:30, so a fairly civilised time to get up and get ready. The start and finish is at an athletics track with the race parking about a mile walk away. I am ashamed to admit that I broke a cardinal rule and parked on a side street near the finish, in fairness to me I didn’t park infront of a house and jo was due in a weeks time so I justified it to myself that I had to get home quick just in case.
Plenty of room in the changing rooms to get sorted and bag drop was well managed. You start with about 300m run on the track and then off onto the roads. You do want to nudge to the front as I’d imagine a lot of stepping on heels and barging at the first corner of the track before it spreads out a bit. So I set off with the idea of a long run and just knocking out 7 minute miles for the day. This ticked along nicely for the first half and I consdered upping it for the second half, however I had slotted in with two guys from the same running club so decided to stay with them. One of them dropped back after about 16 miles so I ran a bit with the other guy, he wasn’t really interested in a chat. I seem to have a rather annoying habit when I am doing a steady run where I like to chat to people, what I don’t take into account is that the person I am asking nice open questions to may not want to talk or may be breathing hard!! After a quick toilet stop I had lost my running partner, (I think he may have sped up when I nipped off!).
Once I broke the 20 mile point I always get a little rush of blood as I always think of a marathon as running the first 10 mile on pace, then run the next 10 miles at pace. Then you’ve only got a 10k to do and I know I can run a decent 10k, so the marathon in my mind is all about getting to the 20 mile mark with a chance to hit the time I am looking for. How you feel during the marathon before you hit the 20 mile mark is irrelavent, you run at your planned race pace no matter what happens. I can’t count how many runners I’ve spoken to after races that said they went off too quick because they ‘felt good’ at 10 miles, low and behold they fall about before the end of the marathon, nothing matters but how you feel between mile 20 and 26. Worse still I was speaking to guy from Woking at London who was hoping for his first sub 3 and was planning on running a 1:25 half so he had time in the bank for when he got tired, as it was close to the start I didn’t want to point out the obvious that he would get tired quicker as he was running too quick at the start, I didn’y want to mess with his mental preparation. I saw him walking at London Bridge and he didn’t get his sub 3.
Anyway I’m preaching now so back to the race. I caught up with the guy I had been running with at around 22 miles and asked him how he was doing. He said he was in unknown territoiry as his pb was 3:12 so he was looking at about 7 mins under at the moment. None the less he said he felt ok. So I was talking to him about just holding pace for the next few miles as if he tried to speed up he culd blow up at mile 25 and ruin his pb chances by walking. He took this on point and every time he strecthed out a yard or two away from me I told him to relax and just stay with me, which he did. He crossed the line in 3:05, same as me, and thanked me after for the advice.
After the race there is free tea or coffee, a goody bag with a bottle of water, mars bar and a number of leaflets. Nice hot showers in the changing room with no wait and plenty of room. Outside the track the Scouts put on a BBQ however with no cash machine around and them only taking cash I couldn’t sample it!
Overall a good race as it’s not too far, not huge pb potential in my case but an average pb chance on the course. Crowd support is just ok. Plenty of drinks etc. around the course.
I’ll do it again but you have to be quick to enter as it sells out quickly.