So I awoke with a very tender right glute and it seemed that having it worked on two days before a race had turned out to be a mistake, even though it did feel so much looser.
It was an earlyish start as needed to get to Portland for 9 for a 10 race start which meant leaving about 8. I picked up a couple of Harriers on the way and we chatted on the way about Farah’s heroics in the 5km and the Olympics as a whole….God I miss the Olympics!
As we hit Portland you drive up this absolute massive hill and joked with the guys “Hopefully we don’t have to run up this!”, we checked the route map when we got there and thankfully we didn’t. …..We had to run up the other side!!!!
We went to pick up our numbers, strangely they didn’t have me on their sheet. They were very good though, I showed them my confirmation email and they assigned me another number…lesson learnt for the future though, always have you confirmation with you.
With this being Dorset Road Race League we checked out the opposition trying to see if the top clubs had their strongest runners out. It was quickly sussed out that Bournemouth AC would likely secure 1st place, Poole Runners had a strong field meaning 2nd would be a bonus but 3rd spot was realistic. I should probably explain that in the DRRL as well as the individuals league you also have a team league. This is scored on how quickly your teams 5th runner gets across the line compared to the other teams, so for example a team runners could individually finish 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 16th but we would beat them if all 5 of our runners placed in the top 15. While I like to do well individually these DRRL races are all about the team.
So after one of the worst cup of teas ever we headed for a warm up, just before I applied some freeze gel to my glute hoping it might relieve some of the tenderness. As we began jogging I felt a bit downhearted as was quite tender but thankfully after a mile it began to loosen a little. When we went back to the car for final preparations I took a isotonic gel and rubbed a bit more freeze gel in. I then went across the field to do a few short sprints and dynamic stretches while it didn’t feel great it was much better than when I first began the warm up. I decided to hang back on the first mile to see how it felt at pace though, didn’t want to risk getting injured.
We lined up and got the race brief, standard stuff apart from the amusing “the first KM marker says 1 Mile, don’t worry that’s just Portland for you”.
We were given the signal and we were off, Matt went off quite quick and ordinarily I would have gone with him but I stuck to my plan and hung back. It begins at Portland FC’s ground and you start by doing a quick loop around the Young Offenders Institute and then back passed the ground. You pass mile 1 (5:55) about 3/4 way round the institute and at this point Matt was already way out in front. As we passed the ground I saw Packer on his bike cheering us on, he was meant to run but had tweaked his calf, so it was nice of him to come all the way out to cheer us on. At this stage I was following a couple of Bournemouth AC runners with Paul, Steve and Mark just behind me. There was a bit of wind here so I tucked in behind them knowing the downhill was just up ahead, I did a mental body check here and while I could feel the affects in my glute it thankfully wasn’t causing me any discomfort so felt confident in upping the pace. Neat the end of mile 2 you turn left on to a main road which is the beginning of the downhill towards the sea. I up’d the pace as I approached the corner passing the BAC runners. I knew now was the right time to attack so I hit the downhill hard chasing down the runners in front. Mile 2 5:50
The downhill carries on through to mile 3 and I planned on making the most of it before the uphill section started. I passed quite a few people here and set about closing in on Matt, and Alex (a BAC runner) who was just in front of him. I was continously closing in and finally passed them just at the bottom of the hill. Mile 3 5:27
There was another pack about 30 yds in front so I headed after them to sit in behind. Unfortunately the wind picked up here and I was isolated between two packs, I decided rather than fight the wind I’d take the foot of the pedal and let Alex catch me to use as a windbreak. When I tucked in behind Alex I looked behind and saw Matt about 15-20 yds behind being used as a windbreak himself. I shouted back to him and told him to tuck in behind me, he gave a quick turn of pace and did just that. The three of us now worked as a team, well I did my bit when then wind had dropped.
At the end of mile 4 the incline begins and it was here I decided to slip behind Matt so that I could manage my effort better on the up hill, he made made me laugh as he said sarcastically “Oh it’s my turn to lead when we’re going uphill is it!” I gave him a big grin and replied “It’s all about teamwork”. Mile 4 6:16
Matt is stronger than me on up hills and he started to build a gap from him ever so slowly, he was also closing in on a couple of runners in front. I decide I needed to up it and give chase before there was too much of a gap between us. I gave Alex some encouraging words and told him to follow. Matt at this stage had passed the two runners so I focused on them first and succeeded in slowly catching them and passing. He was about 10 yds in front now and I was having to work dam hard to keep the distance steady. Mile 5 6:36
Knowing I only had a mile left gave me the confidence to push harder and this is the benefit of being the hound rather than the fox. Once I saw the crest I knew again that that was the moment to attack so I picked up the pace and pushed really hard to catch and pass Matt, and a Poole Runner. I knew then I had to give it my all to keep him behind. I saw Lee from Lytchett Striders up ahead who is just in front of me in the individuals league so that gave me a carrot to chase as well. I was closing him when when he went the wrong way, I shouted after him and hand signalled the right way but this mistake allowed me to pass him. We then hit the downhill towards the finish. I knew I had to smash this to have a chance in keeping this place, I hit it so hard that I now jointly hold top spot for the Strava segment!
We then turned left towards the finishing straight with my watch beeping to say Mile 6 5:41, not bad seeing this includes and uphill as well.
As soon as you turn left you hit a gradual slope and my legs started to go at this point, it wasn’t long before the Poole Runner retook his spot and as hard as I pushed I couldn’t stop Lee from regaining his either. As I ran into the ground I glanced behind me and Matt was about 20 yds behind so I kept pushing and I crossed the line 9th place in 37:14.
The team did very well in securing 3rd spot on the Chub Championship just missing out on 2nd spot by a couple of places.
Overall really pleased with this race as I learnt to race a race rather than simply running as quickly as possible. A little disappointed that I dropped those last couple of places but they would of just been bonus on top of a good performance.
Now would I do this race again? Probably not, it’s a tough 10K and unless it features in the CC or DRRL then I wouldn’t run it again. The route, organisation, technical t-shirt is good but if I want a tough 10K there are plenty out there away from the roads and a bit closer to home. I enjoyed the race but that’s mainly because of it being in the DRRL and racing against the other teams rather than the route itself.