Having a race the weekend after two weekends of marathons may not be the greatest of ideas. To make matters worse I decided to increase the distance for this race from the 10K option, to the 10 mile option. Excellent. At least after this I’d have a few weeks without races.
When booking the Thoresby 10 I pictured an off-road trail that’d be muddy, and slow. I thought it’d be nice to give it a go, but thought that ten miles of it might be a but much. When I realised I hadn’t run a ten mile race this year – that’s when I decided to increase the distance I’d be running.
On the day of the race we were at the tail end of what had been dubbed “Storm Brian”. Our weather is nothing like what they get in the US so it seems silly we’ve taken to naming them. I think perhaps the UK was just feeling left out. Anyway, this meant it looked like we were going to have a very wet and windy day.
By the time I got to Thoresby, the rain had stopped, but the wind was still howling. I made my way in shorts and tee to the registration tent and collected my number and timer. I couldn’t figure out how to do it, but fortunately someone there was showing people how to strap it to their legs. Mine kept coming loose, but I figured as long as it didn’t come off then all would be okay.
The wind wasn’t letting up, and was making me feel colder so I eventually decided I needed another layer. I thought I’d get my skins top, but I bumped into Nic and Emma on the way to my car and they offered to keep hold of my extra layer whilst running, so I decided my #ukrunchat hoodie would be even better!
When the time came for the race briefing I noticed that the canicross runners were starting with the 10 mile runners. I hadn’t realised they’d be starting in the same wave, but they were all moved to the front. This seems pretty standard for races where there are dogs running. It’s just one more thing to be mindful of on on the course.
I set off far faster than I intended and covered the first quarter of a mile at 5:05min/mile pace. Too fast. I’d let myself get caught up in the pace of the race, and not the pace I wanted to be at, so I eased off a little. I settled into a 6:40 to 6:50 min/mile pace, which is what I wanted. I was still overtaking a few people, including someone who was wheezing very loudly. I asked if they were okay and they nodded, so perhaps that’s just normal for them.
The terrain varied a lot between muddy trails through trees, and bits of gravel. The only bit where I found I had to really slow down was when I encountered these really large pebbles that had been used to fill in a hole in the path. We’d been warned about them in the briefing so I knew they were coming, but I thought it might have been some overly cautious notices (such as warnings about the lake before doing Braunstone Parkrun). It really wasn’t overly cautious – I’m glad they’d told us. As well as slowing down considerably I tried to run on the outside of them in hope it’d reduce the risk of rolling my ankle.
On an area with a wide open field I felt the strong cross-winds of Storm Brian the most. It felt like I was being blown to the side, and found it difficult. I was glad once we were back amongst the trees.
I started to pass a number of the canicross runners, and these were in places difficult to pass – especially those that had multiple dogs. Some were good and were calling to their dogs to move over, but some had very little control over them. I always get slowed down in events that double as a canicross – it never fails. It’s just the way it is though, and seeing the different dogs can be fun!
When you’re out on the course it’s easy to forget things about the course, but then that’s why there are marshals there. They volunteer to make sure the event is safe, and that people are going the right way. When I got to four miles I started to think about when it was we were supposed to be turning left onto an inner loop before repeating a section. I’d got it in my mind that it was sometime around mile 7. All I could remember about that from the briefing is that we’d be directed the right way by a marshal, and if we went wrong then we’d be doing 13 miles. Well… that wouldn’t be too bad, as with the pace I was averaging it looked likely I’d have done a half marathon in 89 minutes.
On this section that is repeated there’s a water station (I didn’t bother with this – in these mild conditions I don’t need fuel or water) and a couple of hills. One of the hills was a little tough, and on the first pass I did think to myself I’d struggle with that the next time around. I’d dropped in behind a group of three runners at this point, with one of them just pulling away from their group to take the lead. Their pace suited my needs, so I stuck with them for a while.
Eventually there was a sign that said sharp left and once around this corner I said a sign that just said “10 miles”. It seems I’d passed the fork and was now on the inner loop.
As I exited the inner loop I found we were joining other runners. I couldn’t tell if this was the back of the ten mile group, part of the 10K group, or a combination of the two. Not long after this I overtook two of the three people I’d been following for the past few miles.
From that point on I was eagerly looking out for the sign where the fork was, as I’d not seen one on the first time around. Eventually I saw a sign that pointed the 10K runners to the right, but couldn’t see one for the ten mile runners – I think the marshal directing runners might have been standing in front of it. Oops. The marshal was now shouting “10 mile runners to the left, 10K runners to the right”.
The remaining runner I’d been following for sometime, I followed as he went in the direction of the 10K. Behind me I heard someone shout to the marshal “is it to the right for second lap?!”. When I heard her reply with a “yes” I knew I’d gone the right way. Excellent.
After the race I was told about a few 10 mile runners who had been sent around again, despite the pre-race warning, and had ended up running 13 miles instead. That’s then problem with lapped courses: when you’re tired you do what the marshals say, so if they send you one way, then you do it.
As the grass changed to concrete I saw Nic and Emma standing on the side of the road so waved as I passed. My legs were aching incredibly by this point and I knew I’d slowed down a lot as the two runners I’d overtaken were now not too far behind me again.
After that it felt like I was running into the wind all the way to the finish. I didn’t want to walk, even though it’d have been nice to, as I knew I was now so close. I glanced over my shoulder and saw the two runners closing in on me so I pushed harder, but was unable to get up to a sprint – the wind was pushing back.
When I reached the final straight I didn’t bother to sprint as I thought if I did I might just vomit so instead took it easy for those last metres. Just as I crossed the finish line the other two runners crossed at pretty much the same time. We shook each others hands, and then I went to remove the timers from my ankle.
I joined the queue to get the finishers medal, and after that got a bag, a bottle of water, and a packet of crisps (I didn’t feel like a banana). I walked over to the results tent and got my time – I’d finished in 68:18 in position 12 (6th for my age group) of 315 (first 4%). Sure, it’s not my fastest 10 mile time as I’d recently set a new PB, but for the conditions and the course I was extremely pleased with the result! I’m now left feeling confident again about being able to set a half marathon PB this year. It was tough, but I enjoyed it very much.
I then walked over to where Nic and Emma were so I could join them in waiting for Amy to pass. This was her first ten mile race and did fantastic.
When I got home it was pointed out to me that I’d been given a medal for the 10K and not the 10 mile race. Apparently later on in the day there had been two queues, one for 10K and one for 10 miles, but when I finished there was just one lady handing out medals. She’d given me the wrong one. I have no idea how as when there’s multiple events going on at the same time they usually check your bib. It seems this one didn’t. I can only assume I got a 10K one as the person in front of me had been running that one, and she hadn’t noticed the next runner wasn’t a 10K also (she was busy talking to someone about curtsying).
It’s not really a big deal, but after a great day it felt soured initially. Before it was pointed out to me I was happy with the day, blissfully ignorant of any issue. Fortunately, the organisers for the event are really good at listening, and are correcting the problem. It’s a lesson learned for me as well though, as when I run Ashbourne 10 I’ll check the medal at the end to make sure it’s the right one and won’t assume.
Next year I’ll be returning to Thoresby to do the course in reverse as laps for Longhorn half marathon.