This was the third time I have ran this race but after being floored with a flu like infection the week before I knew I wasn't capable of giving it my all and so had turned up looking to simply enjoy it.
Those that know me know I am not too keen on trail or cross country. Owain has ran the 15k the last few years, positioning well, and rather than hang about waiting for him I opted to run the 5k. To be honest, I think Owain encourages me to run it as you get a free beer as part of your entry and as I dont drink beer it means Owain gets two!
For anyone looking to try something different from traditional road running, the 5k is a great option as it is over and done with pretty quickly and relatively painless! I had put in solid winter training before the race last year and so had went out with the intention of racing it and I just remember it being a really tough run and quite uneven underfoot. I had seen the recce photos the day before this year's race and although they were of the 15k, I knew there would be some mud on the 5k.
The first mile of the race is pretty much uphill, climbing through the forest so I decided to have a little warm up to try and get my breathing sorted. I was a bit shocked to glance down at my watch and discover that I was running about a min/mile slower than I thought I was. Oh well, looked like it was just going to be one of those days.
After a short delay, we were soon on our way and I settled in to an easy pace knowing what was coming. It was interesting to see loads of people pass me but soon drop to a walk before we even entered the forest! The first part of the route is quite narrow and with several puddles and muddy sections it was hard to pass people. I dropped into single file behind the runner in front but soon got impatient and opted for the mud instead just to get past. From here on in I gradually passed runners and before I knew it we were coming out of the forest about a mile in.
I got a bit confused at this stage as from memory this was the worst of the climb over with but it hadn't actually felt to bad so I was thinking there must be more to come. Around this time my watch beeped with my first mile split and this was a lot slower than I had been hoping for, coming in at 11:17. Perhaps that was why I didn't feel too bad. I gently picked up the pace and before I knew it I was passing yet more runners feeling strong.
We soon got to the end of the top straight and re-joined on to the 15k route, from memory this meant we had about a mile to go. I think it was around here that Bob Marshall had stationed himself to take photos but I hadn't noticed him as I was focused on just staying strong. I think this is one of the few race photos I have where I think I actually look like a runner, focused and looking determined!
Thanks to Bob Marshall for the photo.
At this stage I had been following the runner in front for a while and as we approached the 1k to go sign she said "One K to go". I wasn't sure whether this meant she hadn't realised we had ran 4k or whether she thought there was less to go. As I had been picking up the pace, I didn't want to waste energy speaking to her but all of a sudden I was passing her which made me think she had more to go than she thought!
We turned and headed back in to the main forest and I knew we didn't have far to go before we would be on the tarmac. At this stage, I told myself it was more stable underfoot so I could push on a bit more and just kept pushing until the finish line.
My finish time was 32:20 which is the slowest I have ran the course but overall I was really pleased with how it went. Although I started slow, I was constantly passing people and don't think anyone passed me once we headed into the forest. As the route is uphill to start, most runners can expect a negative split and I was pleased to see my miles clock in at 11:17, 10:35; 10:03 with the final bit an 8:19. All in all, a pleasing progression run!
Next for me is Inverness 5k. I wasn't sure whether to run this or not given it is a fun run with no official timing but last year I was there supporting Owain as he ran the half marathon and was wishing I was part of it so have just taken the plunge. This can be my March race! The aim for this one is definitely to race it and see how much progress I have made since Jan when I ran Edinburgh parkrun. I just need to stay fighting fit over the next few weeks!