The weekend kicked off in great style with the arrival of my fab new kit from Brooks. A boxful of running goodies included new trainers, track spikes, some very cool training gear and my extra spangly Brooks race outfit. I've even got some podium wear; a rather fetching Brooks retro bomber jacket, made for looking one's best at those all important presentations. Feeling super stylish I laid out my neatly folded running goodies ready for the early start on Sunday.
Saturday was also treat filled; a belated birthday trip for M to the Ritz for afternoon tea provided a much needed carbo-loading opportunity. The short journey via Waterloo Station was followed by a suspenseful cab ride for M. We arrived at the Ritz in our best frocks for a proper afternoon tea. The outing promised unlimited supplies of perfectly cut sandwiches, fresh cream scones and the most beautiful cakes my eyes have ever seen; all of this in the most sumptuous Art Deco surroundings.
I sipped my Assam from lovely bone china tea cups whilst M attacked the cream scones. It was surprisingly filling; the four of us only making it through three tea stands before we were well and truly beaten! I was secretly wishing I'd prove to have better endurance on race day. A walk via Trafalgar Square burned off a bit of cake before we turned back for home and some pre-race resting up.
At 6am on Sunday the alarm sounded and we wolfed down our improvised and unappealing hotel room breakfast; I never fancy eating with a nervy race tummy but the race made it all the more important to force down the fuel. We set off early with Old Man Teasey as our support and arrived at the race start in plenty of time.
The Tempest 10m and Spitfire 20m are combined races sharing a 10 mile loop starting from Dunsfold Aerodrome. The course loops through undulating country road before turning back onto pancake flat airfield at miles 8 and 18. I wasn't quite sure what kind of warm-up to do on my first 20 miler but it was nippy and breezy and my ultra sleek Brooks kit lacked any cosy feel. After some delay we were off to a fast start but the advertised course was unexpectedly undulating and windy, making pacing tricky, particularly with a mix of 10m racers in the pack to add to the racing confusion.
There were no ladies to be seen as I settled in with a couple of blokes; a brief chat reassured me their plans for sub 2.45 marathon pace was about right. I'd spotted M up ahead and tried to avoid any chasing. The race pace was surprisingly laid back and relaxing, very different to the usual experience of lung-bursting and eyeball-popping hard work over 10k. I ran strong as the miles ticked by eagerly until mile 8 and the turn back onto the airfield; the windy blast nearly ground me to a halt.
A battle over the next mile or two saw me eventually wave a big 'well done' to M on his fantastic second place position at the 10-mile finish. I ran on to start my second lap and was by this time feeling a wee bit lonely, having left my racing company behind. I pressed on into the wind and kept on clocking my miles; the pacing was all over the place. The going was good but getting noticeably harder as the wind still blew and my legs remembered all the hard work they'd done this week. By mile 17 I was starting to tire and braced myself for the final windy blasts up to the finish. The wind seemed to have gained in strength or else I was that bit weaker, but once again my pace plummeted as I battled against the tormentor, focused and determined on the final push.
I came to the finish having run the last 12 alone, placing 9th overall and winning as first lady by a healthy margin. I was chuffed to have survived my first 20M race relatively unscathed and enjoyed the comfort of being met by M and his Old Man over the line. A good race result I think. The final time of 2:06:21 saw me average 6.18 over a fairly tough course. I'm happy with that, as was M with his run after a tough training week; our first and second places got us both in the prizes, though sadly no presentation was to be had on the day. I'll have to save the new outfit for another time. Results here.