The Scribbler

4 September 2011

Tynedale Jelly T 10 mile race

Filed under: run — The Scribbler @ 17:42
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I’d heard lots of good things about this race. It’s a popular ‘warm up’ for the Great North Run, a chance to test out race pace over a 10 mile ‘undulating’ course on country roads. It’s well marshalled, well organised and they serve you jelly and a sandwich at the finish.

Me running in the Tynedale Jelly T 10 mile race

Race face on for a fast finish at the Tynedale Jelly T 10 miler. Thanks to Lesley Anne Reed for the photo

So for me, this was just another training run. A chance to get some more miles in at target race pace of 9 min/mile, test out my Great North Run kit and run a different route from usual. So the usual race prep of porridge and faffage, then a nice drive over to the finish line at Ovingham to catch the bus to the start at Hexham.

It was a bright, sunny day, perfect for my race vest and shorts, though I will take the precaution of putting suncream on my shoulders next time. I got away with it today, but have a nice addition to my T-shirt and Garmin tan lines.

Having opted for the early bus, there was a fair bit of waiting around at the sports centre and at first not that many runners around. Plenty of time for loo trips and more faffage then. But also a chance to chat to lovely Jo who I know from parkrun and his wife. Geordie Jo’s a 31 time Great North Runner and the first time I was introduced to him I was a bit star-struck as I’d only just seen him the week before on a special TV feature. Anyway, always nice to chat to canny runners.

As more began to arrive I spotted Davina  and said hello to David (long time no see) and Sue. A quick joglet around the carpark to settle my nerves and then en masse we began to walk to the start. I had no idea where I was going, so just had to follow the crowds, chatting to Sue as we went.

Me in a crowd of runners at the start of the Jelly Tea 10 mile race

One of the crowd at the start of the race. Picture by runnerwanderings on Flickr

It suddenly dawned on me how many runners there were. Good runners. Club runners. Local vests in abundance. But it had the atmosphere of a nice day out in the countryside, relaxed, but keen to be off, a bit like the Northumberland coastal run. I found my spot in the crowd and with little fuss we were off. I started my watch just after the airhorn and took about 6 seconds to cross the start line.

Now just to find my pace and some 9 minute miles. I’d been warned of two hills, a climb coming out of Corbridge around 5 miles and then the kicker – a short steep incline just after 9 miles. My plan today was just to run how I felt, target race pace for as long as I could and ease off if I needed to later in the race.

I was a wee bit quick, trying to reign it in, keep it steady, keeping an eye on the watch to give me an indication of pace. As I went through the first mile in 08:44, I passed a couple of girls in pink tops who were chatting and supporting each other, trying to keep their pace steady. I told them what I was doing and that I was aiming for 9 min miles and we ran together for quite some distance, changing places, but keeping each other honest.

The first 3 miles I felt good, settled quickly, but felt like I was having to hold myself back a little. In the sunshine it was hot and humid, so patches of shade beneath the trees were welcome. I kept a regular eye on my Garmin for pace, checking every mile split and glancing in between, trying to find the sweet spot and not drift too easily into slowing down.

I’d worn my tri number belt as it gave me the opportunity to tuck a gel into one of the elastics. So far this year, I’ve managed without them, sticking to a bite of dried mango for a boost on longer runs. But I still had it in mind that I might use one or two on the Great North Run. The belt was a bit of a mistake. It kept riding up and kept my vest close to my body, so I didn’t feel the benefit of the non-existent breeze. I eventually got it settled around my hips, re-pinning my race number to my vest as I was still running. As I didn’t use the gel, I’ll be sticking to mango pieces and no belt for the Great North Run. I do prefer to run with the minimum of baggage.

Through the pretty village of Corbridge with plenty of smiley marshalls and smatterings of local support, the ribbon of runners wound from one side of the road to the other, taking the shortest path and I followed. Up the inclines, I shortened my stride and picked my feet up, putting in a little more effort to keep up the pace, but trying not to wear myself out too much.

As we approached the rise out of the village I ran alongside an Asian guy in a red T-shirt and we swapped some chat about goals and targets for this race and the next one. Together we tackled the slope that I knew would be the last one before the stretch at the end. As we approached the top, he eased away.

But beside the road I saw my lucky charm Kathryn, a workmate and good runner. I barely had chance to register that she looked like she was struggling in the heat, just saying, “Come on Kathryn, run with me for a bit,” and she did.

Now Kathryn follows all my running ups and downs, knows my goals, my aims and is often one of the first to text me and ask how I’ve got on. So I know she knows what I can do and what I’m aiming for. And I know too that she’s a good bit faster than me on a good day, but that she’s coming back from injury and still finding her form. And I really like running with her.

This was a good bit of the race. I was enjoying the country roads and the views over the hedgerows. Very different from my usual coastal run. We took off down a lovely long downhill and into a left hand turn. Half way point and still on 9 min mile pace. ‘Just five more 9 minute miles’ I said, confirming what my intentions were for the run.

We didn’t talk much. Just now and then, exchanged a few words. And I told her if she wanted to pick up the pace and go, I would be alright. Through mile 5 and 6 I had a bite of mango to keep me going, intending to take the next one at 8, but needing it at 7. I was actually quite enjoying this, ticking off the miles with Kathryn’s quiet reassurance of ‘spot on pace’.

I’d decided that before the race that I’d be happy with 6 miles at race pace, so 7 was a bonus, and although it was getting a little harder to sustain, I still felt nice and in control. And running with Kathryn meant if I wanted to drop back, I’d have to say so.

Me running the Jelly Tea 10 mile race

Getting tough towards the end of the race

By 8 miles, it was beginning to pull a little on my calves, but hey, when you’ve done 8 at race pace, what’s another 2? Just another 18 minutes, that’s all. I could manage that. I’d been concentrating on pace, rather than time, but I knew that at this pace I’d be on for around 01:30.

8 miles into 9 and I could sense the tension build. Where was this fabled hill? Was that it? Yes it was. Dig in. Short strides and pick your feet up. I was determined to run this, defying those already walking. Narrowing my stride and powering on through.

I thought there would be more and there was. A false summit and another short climb. By now my breath was coming ragged and at the top I couldn’t smooth it out again. Kathryn and a small group of four girls began to ease ahead. I gasped that I was ‘coming back’ as Kathryn called to me. And a couple of cyclists encouraged me to catch the group as I began the welcome downhill.

I narrowed the gap, bit by bit, but they remained stubbornly ahead. Now I was stretching out my legs. Now I was running for home, knowing there wasn’t far to go, but still unsure of where to really kick for the finish. As the lines of supporters grew noisier I spotted Lesley Anne with her camera and put a move on a girl in black, powering through my stride and picking it up a gear.

Back round towards the school and the finish, the group including Kathryn were still beyond my reach, but I could see the finish and the race clock at 01:29:xx – a final push and I got through in under 01:30. Ten miles at target race pace and I felt fantastic :-).

Congratulations all round and I gave Lesley Anne a very sweaty hug! Then off to find the fabled refeshments. Mmmm lime jelly absolutely hit the spot after a hot and sticky race.

I inhaled my sandwich as I walked back around to cheer others including Sue and Davina over the finish line and spotted Allan about to cycle home after an amazing run.

All in all, a cracking race. I can understand why people come back to it year after year. Just nice, relaxed and fun. And there’s jelly at the end. What more could you ask for?

Stats and stuff:
10.07 miles 01:29:31
1) – 1m – 8:45(8:45/m) – 102cal
2) – 1m – 8:49(8:49/m) – 104cal
3) – 1m – 8:54(8:54/m) – 104cal
4) – 1m – 9:03(9:03/m) – 105cal
5) – 1m – 9:10(9:10/m) – 104cal
6) – 1m – 8:45(8:45/m) – 104cal
7) – 1m – 8:53(8:53/m) – 104cal
8) – 1m – 9:08(9:08/m) – 104cal
9) – 1m – 8:54(8:54/m) – 104cal
10) – 1m – 8:47(8:47/m) – 104cal
11) – 0.07m – 25(6:05/m) – 6cal


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