For the first time in four years, I had signed up to do the Portobello Promathon which is a 4 mile race on New Year's Day.
As I am still following the Body Coach programme, the focus of my training is on interval work but I had agreed with my Body Coach support hero that I would still keep one constant run per week. These have only been around three miles but knew that I should be able to manage the 4 miles on the day.
The race starts at 10.30am so it meant that we could still see in the Bells and welcome in the New Year. We just stayed in the flat having a few drinks and enjoying the fireworks at the Castle from the warmth of the living room.
We left the flat to head to the race about 9.15am and my first thought was that it was cold! I was planning on just racing in my t shirt and 3/4 tights and did wonder whether I would need to keep my jacket on to race. I do tend to overheat once I start racing so know that less is best for me! It was great seeing all our running friends before the race, catching up with them and feeling part of it, rather than just spectating.
I am not normally one for warm ups but given the cold I decided to get a few minutes warm up in to try and acclimatise my breathing to the weather. Although my hands and feet were still cold, I was glad that I had opted to ditch my jacket.
The race starts around the middle of the prom and heads out one side along to the cat and dog home before running around a car and heading back in the other direction and heading out along the other side of the prom to run round a cone before returning to finish where we started. I don't normally like out and back courses but this is an enjoyable course as you get to see others running and for me I can pass the time by trying to spot who I know heading the other way and see how well they are doing. As I haven't been focusing on my running, it was in the back of my mind that I could be last. Normally this puts me under a bit of pressure but for this race I made a conscious decision to not worry about my position. That being said, once I had ran round the car at the first turn, I did do a quick count to see how many folk were behind me and was pleased to note that I wasn't last.
When I am running, I tend to chop the miles into segments in my head to help keep me going. For this race, I divided it up into four, the first turn, back to the start line, out to the second turn and then the final section back to the finish line. From speaking to Owain, I knew the first two sections were slightly shorter than the next two and when I turned round the car, I had a look at my watch and saw that it was around .75 miles. For the next section, my focus was on keeping a good consistent pace and hoping that I passed the start/finish line before the front runners crossed the finish line. Thankfully, I managed to do that but I was only a few minutes along before the front runners came flying back to the finish. Again this meant that I was able to keep an eye out for other runners on their way back and it was lovely to see and hear mutual words of encouragement for me and other runners. During this section, I managed to pass a few runners who perhaps had started off quicker than they should. This gave me a bit more confidence to just relax and enjoy the run knowing that even if I slowed there were likely to still be folk behind me. Heading out towards the cone at the second turn point was pretty lonely as by that point all the faster runners had passed and there were big gaps between us slower runners. However, I was a bit surprised to have turned round the cone to see no-one behind me at all! Had we not have had the first turn and being able to see behind me, I would have thought I was the last runner at this point!
I had a quick look at my watch as I came back on the prom and saw that there was a mile to go, but unfortunately it was into a slight head wind. This was definitely the hardest part of the course for me as there weren't many runners around to spur me on and the prom was becoming congested with walkers out to enjoy New Years Day. As I have only been running around three miles, I was starting to flag a bit. Thankfully there were a few marshals along this part offering words of encouragement so I was able to keep focused. Bob Marshall was also out on the route taking photos and managed to snap me at this point, I was obviously trying hard to focus on getting to the end!
Soon the finish line was in sight along with fantastic cheers of support from our friends who had already finished the race. I think the race organisers must have been thinking I was some sort of celebrity with the cheers I was getting and it was such an amazing way to start 2017 - thanks guys!!!
My official finish time was 40.45 placing me 317 out of 333 - and for a change I wasn't on the last page of the results! This is the third time I have ran this race, it wasn't my fastest but thankfully it wasn't my slowest either.
So there you have it, my first race of 2017. I still have one more month of my Body Coach programme to go so my training focus will still be on interval work but I will make sure that I keep that one constant run in. I've already signed up for a 5k trail races in Jan, Feb and March which will help keep me focused over the next few months. By then, I hope to have a few more running targets for 2017.