RACE UPDATE 21/11: official results are in ~ 15th Position out of 384 finishers
I ran the first Dirt Half Marathon held in Leighton Buzzard today. Great to have another local race in the calendar and this one particularly up my 'trail' as the event name suggests. Despite the claims though the majority of the actual route is along the grand union canal so flat and fast but no dirt! But this changes at 6 miles with a one mile climb that gets steeper and steeper. Once at the top it was a short dash across the street in Great Brickhill before descending into Stockgrove country park. This was by far the best part of the course with two miles of winding single track trail. It was brief but thoroughly enjoyable.
From the beginning of this race I could feel the hamstring strain I picked up on Thursday so there were no thoughts of a fast time. I would of been happy with 1:35 and wasn't really even thinking of a time anyhow. As the race progressed though the strain wasn't showing any signs of slowing me down. About 3-4 miles in and settled into a pace I found myself running amongst 2 other runners (one just ahead and the other behind) whom were running the same 6:45 pace +- 10 seconds. This helped to keep me honest as I didn't want to fall behind or be passed.
In the woods from mile 7-10 I really had a blast and used the downhills to pass both runners. I always prefer to have a clear trail ahead of me so even though the other two weren't going anywhere we flew along together. Back onto the canal at mile 10 it was a 3 mile flat stretch home but this didn't make it any easier and I didn't have too much left to give. It was only now that I could see that I was potentially on for a 1:30 if I could up the pace. This spurred me on as I tried to chase the others down who had passed me again in a boggy field prior to rejoining the canal section. The two I had run with were extended their lead now, but I had caught another guy whom I tried to stay with. I kept an eye on the garmin and was managing to sustain around a 7 min pace. The avg pace read out was 6:53 and I knew to go sub 1:30 I needed an avg pace of 6:51 or better. This meant I had to up the pace in the final 2 miles. Some jelly babies at the final water station helped!
We were now off the canal and into the final mile around the lake where we had started 12 miles prior. I was closing on the same guy still ahead of me and I upped the pace as I passed him, then through the gate, and a short dash across the school playing field and under the finishing arch. My garmin time was 1:29.36. Nice. Avg pace 6:50. Don't know my placing yet but might have sneaked into the Top 20. 500 started.
I was chuffed to bits. I really didn't think I could sustain this pace over such a course and show that I have carried over the speed and fitness from my Half in October despite the relatively low mileage in the past month.
My right knee is complaining a little bit now so I don't plan to so too much in the remainder of 2010. I don't have any races booked, unless you count the XC season. The next one of those is 4th December.