Race report: Strathallan 5

Strathallan

On Saturday evening I headed up the road with Mandy to Strathallan for a low key race organised by Carnegie harriers. It was a 5 mile road race, 2 laps along quiet country roads. 

If you are wondering where Strathallan is, it's near Perth and it will be where T in the Park is hosted this year. 

The race started at 7pm, which was late for a weekend race. I had spent all day trying to work out how best to prepare for it. I ended up having dinner at 4pm to make sure I was fuelled but also so that it wasn't too late to eat. 

From Edinburgh, it's an hour drive up to Strathallan and we arrived with about 45 minutes to wait, ideal timing to allow me to get a warm up in before hand. 

Ashmei had sent me some new kit to test and so I decided to go undercover so to speak, no club vest. I wore my ashmei compressions socks, race vest and warmed up in my new gilet. A review about the gilet will be online in the next couple of weeks. 

I wanted to do this race for a couple of reasons. One, I need to work on my shorter distance pacing. Two, I have never ran this race before and it sounded interesting and three, looking at previous race results I thought I might be in for a shot of a good position. 

I decided to do a lap of the course as a warm up as I had heard it was undulating. This usually means hilly if you go to any Fife based club's races!

I was glad I did. The first mile was down a really steep hill then along a relatively flat section, around a couple of corners and then up a long climb towards the end of the first lap.
This climb was going to really work the lungs and legs, especially on the second lap!

Warm up done. It was time to get on to the start line.

The race 

On the start line

As I wanted to get a good time and the race wasn't chipped, I got my toes right on the line. 

After a quick safety briefing about the roads not being closed and there may be some traffic on them, we were off! 

Within a couple of strides it was clear I was going to need to work for my place tonight. I quickly tried to get my pace up and start chasing some of the runners who had put in a very strong, fast start. I know some of the faces from when I raced with Pitreavie AAC and there were a couple of people I should have been infront of. 

Once we got to the downhill section I tried to relax, get in to a good comfortable pace but all I could think about was how dry my mouth was! 
It was a very odd sensation and I can't explain why it happened. I was hydrated and had drank a mouthful of water just before I started. 

Before I knew it, we were starting on the first climb up towards the school grounds where the first lap would end. I had someone one my shoulder, breathing really heavily. I considering pushing hard up the hill to try and lose him but this tends to lead to me getting a stitch, which would then lead to a bad position and time. Instead, I tried to ignore it and about half way up the hill he pushed on past me. I didn't see him again!

During the first lap I was catching a couple of runners ahead of me though and so that was what I focussed on. Keeping a good pace and just trying to pull some runners back in towards me. 

We came through the start / finish line and began our second lap. The two front runners were already heading back out as we came in, they were shifting! 

The start of the second lap and another chance to get the pace up with the downhill section. 

I caught a Carnegie Harrier and passed him. He gave me a couple of words of encouragement as I passed but then he hooked on and it was now race time. 

Along the flat section I could hear him just behind me, I was pushing hard but I couldn't shake him and we still had the uphill section to go. It could go one of two ways, I could hold my own and keep him off or he would be stronger on the hill and leave me for dust. 

We hit the hill and he pulled up beside me, not pulling away at any great pace but still just edging up the hill. This was my point of realisation, the point when I had a word with myself and a highlight of my race. He was getting away from me but I decided I wasn't going to let him have it that easy. There was still one or two people in front that I could see but my race was with the green and orange vest. 

As he started to pull away I imagined a rope around his waist and I started to pull him back. Relaxing my shoulders, getting my breathing back under control on the flat section again and chasing him down. 

I caught him and passed him on the flat and now there was probably only half a mile to go, it was time to push it and give it my all. 

We passed the other guys I had seen ahead but we were both racing this one to the end. 

There was one more incline, nothing major but I thought I would go for it from here, try and put a gap between us before the finish line, hope that the previous climb had slowed him down enough that I could hold any lead I might gain. 

We topped the climb and that was when it happened, I heard his breathing, I heard his pace increase and I knew he was going for the sprint finish. 

The sprint finish

The problem I now had was, he was getting up to speed probably a couple of strides ahead of me, I was going to need to work really hard to try and keep him off my back and I tried. Oh how I tried, I grit my teeth and gave it my all. The spectators were all cheering, mostly for the Harrier since they were hosting the race but Mandy was giving great encouragement from the sidelines. 

It wasn't to be though, he cruised past me with a couple of metres to go and took 9th place. 

I finished a second behind him in 10th. 

Before the race had started, I hoped to get sub 30 minutes, even on the hilly course and I reckon, if I hadn't been in a race with the other guy for the final lap, I may have missed it. I finished in 29:48 which I was pleased with. Average pace of 5:49

All in all, it was a great race and one I would do again. 

Owain Williams

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