This was one of those races I'd entered just for fun, and was only doing it because friends were. I've not raced in Clumber Park before; but I've seen plenty of it from trips there over various summers. It's the sort of place that is good for a picnic and to relax a little. My only expectation for this race was that it'd be a little slower than other 10Ks I've done recently as I figured it'd be a trail run. Not only this but unfortunately I'd caught a cough just days before. Coughing fits wasn't going to be ideal. Perhaps I shouldn't have gone; but I didn't want to miss the chance.
A 10:30 start meant I didn't need to get up too early as I wouldn't need to leave home until 07:45. It does however mean it'd be a little warmer than it would be for an 09:00 start! When I got there the number collection was easy enough - we'd been asked to remember our numbers beforehand. When my friends arrived I was able to wait with them whilst the fun run took place first. I think given the warmth and how I was feeling it may have been better to have done that race!
At the start I started a little further back than I normally would as I wasn't sure what sort of impact the cough would have, and I'd already decided I wasn't going to go at full speed anyway. To start with it didn't seem too bad. I held back and let others overtake me whilst I did the first mile in 6:20 - with a crossing over Clumber water just before this. I thought briefly that perhaps the race would be as fun as I wanted it to be - I wasn't pushing and if that pace felt okay then I could slow a little and look around a little. No chance.
Before I'd even gone half a mile further I had to pause at the side of the trail to figuratively cough my guts out. I walked for a bit, and then got running again; but now felt completely drained. I did get running again for a while, but it didn't last - I walked again before I even got to two miles. It took me onto a long straight though that reminded me of Thoresby, and I only stopped once during this to get a cup of water - the rest of the mile was done in a reasonable time. A surprise to be sure.
I thought the next water station was going to be at 5K but it was a little after that. The fourth mile left the trail briefly and went through one of the entrance gateways. I could see the road stretching ahead of me, and a marshall called out "It's all down hill from here". Hopefully it wouldn't be figuratively - literally it was a net uphill mile though.
The fifth mile finished just before the narrow bridge over Clumber Water. At some point recently the bridge had been damaged, and with other park users using it, it was a little crowded. I kept on running though - I'd already had seven walking breaks for coughing during the last two miles. Now I'd got just over a mile to go - maybe I could push on for that. I tried, but failed. I started to recognise the path to the finish; but couldn't remember quite what the path had been like.
The closer I got to the finish, the more people there were cheering on the runners. It really did remind of Thoresby in that respect too. When I saw the finish though I didn't feel like sprinting - if I did then I figured it'd make me cough even more. So, I plodded on to the finish with a gun time of 43:11. I'd thought this race was one with a medal, but it was actually just another technical tee and a bottle of water.
(Photo courtesy of @treb91)
I'd finished 33rd out of 505 finishers. Maybe not a bad result; but I wondered what it would have been like if I'd not been coughing and taking it easy. I think that's why I often find myself going faster than intended - the "what if" that it answers. This time it wouldn't have been possible, and my cough was feeling a lot worse after the race than before. Despite this I went off to a good waiting spot to cheer my friends over the finish.
When I say cheer, I mean clap as I decided to avoid talking when I didn't have to - maybe it'd help the cough a little. It wasn't a bad race; but I think for me the only highlight was getting to see friends.