I’ve been trying to complete at least one “official” race a month. Each race, or run, should preferably be half marathons. However, I’ve not been able to find enough half marathons close by. Luckily there are shorter races to help me achieve my target. On Sunday 29th November 2015, I took part in the Hatfield 5 Mile race. 5 miles is just equal to 8 km. I’ve only raced this distance once before, managing to complete it in just under an hour (59:04). Frequently the training plan I have used for half marathon training, calls for 7 km runs – rarely have they been 8 km – either much much more or a little less. The few runs prior, were leisurely 5 km runs, a few of the faster ones being part of the weekly parkrun. The Wednesday before I decided to stretch to 8 km just to remind my legs I could go further! It went fairly well, having to run back up a hill did reduce the pace a little but I managed to get it done in 59:48. This, to me, meant that in a race situation I knew I could do a little better, due to the adrenaline and the competitive nature of the race environment. So I was happy going in to it.
I am finding, over here in the UK, there is no pre-race kit/bib collection. So pre-race activity just included making sure I knew where I was going. The race was to start at the University of Hertfordshire. Hertfordshire is the next county over from where I live, and Hatfield is approximately 30 minutes away. The race was due to start at 10 am which is a nice time, I didn’t have to get up too early on the day! That morning my alarm went off at a respectable 7:30 am and was up and excited straight away. I got myself ready and had a light breakfast of coffee and toast. With water on the course, I now take with me red grape juice. I am finding that it gives me enough of a sugar boost to get me going again, and I loved the flavour. It is fast becoming my favourite drink, I have to watch out as I can easily drink a whole carton in one go! Very moorish!! 🙂 So with my running belt packed I was ready and out by 8:15 am. It was a cool, 10°C, and dark morning! Grey and cloudy with a few dots of rain on the windscreen. There was ample parking when I arrived, and race HQ was just next door, in the Forum building.
Walking from the car park to race HQ confirmed the chill in the air, and so I was thankful that the bib pickup was indoors. There was a bit of a queue to collect your numbers, but that went swiftly. Then you collect safety pins, if needed, on another table on the other side of the room. I pinned my number to my shirt and took my race magazine back to my car. I had a lot of time to kill before the race, and did not really need to use the baggage storage area for just a magazine. On my return, I was able to sit in the restaurant area, where they were serving tea, coffee (Starbucks), fruit and snacks for sale. I waited for the queue to reduce, and then got myself a black coffee with honey! It was a good pick me up, as I had not had a coffee before I left home that morning. The restaurant area started to fill up with runners whilst we waited for the start! After 20 minutes it was time to get up and head for the start line.
It was touted to be a flat course. Flat is relative, I say, and rarely is this statement actually true. But to my contentment, it was true on this occasion. There were the tiniest of inclines, mainly to access bridges, but generally it was a flat course. The first half of the race started off well. I went off at a good pace, probably a little quicker than I should have, but I felt ok. The first 3km were at paces of 6:19, 6:36 and 6:56 minutes per km. Not bad going at all! I did stop and walk for 30 seconds bringing that 4th km to 7:10 minutes per km. This meant the first half was at around 27 minutes! I was a happy bunny as doubling this time meant I was on for a 54 minute finish time.
I started to pickup the pace a little, but then arrived at the water station. I walked whilst I drank fast and then got on my way. This slowed the next km a little, but not too much. At 7.16 min/km that brought me to a 34min 20 s 5km time – my fastest yet! Of course I did not know this at the time, but I was well on target to PRing this 5 miler. There was an older lady that I was targeting. I didn’t necessarily want to beat her, she would be my pacer or at least someone to keep up with. I am now used to the idea that there are pensioners who can out run me in a race. They are mostly people who have been running most of there lives. I chatted to one lady, and she had started running at 40 – that was a good 20 years of running. It gives me encouragement, as that is the age that I started running. After only 2 years, in comparison, I am not doing to badly. 🙂 The first half of the race we kept passing each other. But the second half, after warming up and benefitting from the quick walk break, I started to power on through. My pace picked right up and I was able to continuously run on ahead.
The temperature was ideal and with little wind, it was great. The darker clouds were threatening rain, but with only a few droplets throughout the race I could not complain at all. The last half of the race splits were 7:16, 6:54, 6:43 and 6:52. In the final stretch to the finish, I was cheered through by shouts of “come on purple runner” by a running group who’s team colours were also purple! That made my day 🙂 If I lived in there area I would have signed up there and then lol. So with those splits my watch clocked this 5 mile with a time of 54 minutes and 50 seconds!!! That’s about a 4 minute improvement over the last time I did this distance, so pleased!
Of course my official time came up a little slower at 55 minutes 28 seconds – still a PR though , so I am happy with that! What’s also cool is that the finishers water came in this purplewater bottle!
Did you PR this year? Tell me about it in the comments below.
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