The Scribbler

16 May 2010

Pier to Pier race

Filed under: run — The Scribbler @ 15:36
Tags: , , , ,

Another Sunday, another run and for me the second running of this point to point race. Last year I found it hard. It was the furthest I’d ever run at that point. I got confused and fretful about the runners peeling off in different directions, I forgot to start my Garmin and the finish line on the soft sand was an absolute killer. So I was surprised when I checked to see last year’s time was 1 hour 4 mins. That wasn’t too shabby.

Race preparation as normal this morning. Porridge,banana, blueberries and honey. A choice of tops in my kit bag, along with safety pins, water and emergency cash. I’m looking forward to htis one, not to anxious, ready to roll. At Roker I park up and ponder what to wear and what to take. It’s not too cold, so I opt for a short sleeve T-shirt  remembering how cold it was at the Tees Barrage a couple of weeks ago and how quickly I warmed up.

As I wait for the minibus to the start I chat to Grace from Sunderland strollers, layered up to cover any eventuality with the weather. We talk training, marathons, expectations and hopes. It seems a long way to the start line on the bus.

But the sun is shining, it’s not too cold, and although grey clouds threaten the blue skies, I’m confident it’s going to be kind weather for a run.

In the car park I’m spotted by Lisa and Jason, a couple I met at the Tees Barrage race a couple of weeks ago . Jason’s on race duty today and we swap time predictions before heading off for a warm up. We’re chatting away, just ticking over, it becomes a bit of a gallop to get to the start line. Certainly the latest I’ve ever left it. But that’s nice. Legs are warmed through, nerves quelled and there’s little time to think about anything as we head off over the sand.

Keeping it steady as I head across the beach, streams of runners surging ahead. One of the nicest things about this race is the space at the start. I’m pretty free and easy, not stumbling over slower runners right from the word go. I weave my way across the sands, for some reason heading down the beach towards the sea, sploshing through puddles and not finding the sand too taxing, but being wary of burning myself out.

Then there’s the hill and it’s a touch climb up the shifting sand. A short straight and another climb. 1 mile down and my legs begin to protest and it’s hard to get them turning over quickly again at the top. But now we’re away across the cliff tops on marked out trails and short cut grass, and I can stretch out, feeling good, feeling strong, smiling into the sunshine.

Once again I’m hit by pain running from the top of my right shoulder up my neck. This never strikes me in training, but it’s hit me in three races now. It’s not even that cold today, so I can’t blame that. I raise a hand to add some warmth and ease it, remind myself that it will pass, just like it has before.

After a bit of focus on me and getting my head straight I start to look ahead and target runners to catch. A couple of times I pass someone, only to have them come back at me moments later, but now I’m in my groove and I push on and forwards and make up the distance again.But this is a good bit, I’m relaxed, stretching out, pushing on, catching runners. I pass a red Blaydon T-shirt and gradually, gradually target a girl with a long sleeve blue shirt. It takes me a while to catch up with her, but I overtake and keep going.

The sun beats down on the dry grass as I look ahead to see the distinctive red and white of Souter lighthouse in the distance. I promise myself water when I reach the water station. I’m in a nice rhythym now, it seems a shame to slow for water, but I sense that today I need it. I make myself drink it, not just wet my lips. Slowing for water means some of those I’ve fought to overtake go past me, but I’m feeling refreshed and push on again.

The Garmin beeps out another mile – should be about half way by now. Feeling positive I enjoy a little mango boost, hoping it will kick in and keep me going before I start to fade, as I often do at the half way point.

I’m running alone now. I can’t hear those behind me and those in front will take some catching. My calves start to tense as I cross the grass behind some houses. Last year this field was all tussocky and hard work. It’s easier today, but I’m hot and finding this hard going. Look out across the sparkling sea and relax.

There are a couple of points on this route where you have to slow for steps, and a gate where I bashed my thigh last year. I opt for safety over speed and get through injury free, but each time it’s hard to pick up the pace again. There are a couple more moments when I sense I’m easing up and I do my best to push on. But my plan for this race was always to run well when I could and not fret too much when terrain and tiredness slowed me down.

Ahead I can see the lighthouse and the finish line. But now I’m looking too far forward and a couple more runners overtake as my legs start to slow. How far, how far to the promenade and some solid tarmac beneath my feet? The first paving stones are welcome. I begin to stride out, relax, move forwards again now I’m on familiar ground.

Ahead I see the Blaydon T-shirt again. I opt to keep him in my sights and grind down the distance between us, confident I can take him on a sprint finish. Along the promenade, a Marshall shouts out, ‘Just over a mile to go’ and I’m surprised, I thought it was further. I sneak a glance at the Garmin. I’m still going to have to keep pushing if I want that PB and I know there’s a sandy beach to tackle ahead.

Down onto the sand. Soul sucking for some after such a tough run. But this is my space, my place. I love the beach and the finish line is in sight. I pick off Blaydon after a few hundred yards and tell myself that I’ll really go for a sprint finish when I reach the rocks. But my legs are already turning over faster. There are no more runners I can target, but I want this for me. Lisa calls out near the finish and I find another gear, arms pumping, legs kicking for a breathless finish and a happy, happy PB of 62.39 – more than a minute faster than last year

Stats: 6.86 miles in 62.39

Mile splits:

1. 9.41

2. 9.05

3. 8.52

4. 9.28

 5. 9.09

 6. 7.23 (0.86 mile)

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