Running a race is harder than racing it

Yesterday I ran the Rugby 6.

I ran 20 miles of the Shires and Spires route on Saturday morning, six very easy and fun trail miles on Sunday, an easy 10k on Monday, (I say ‘easy’ but wearing shorts and a t-shirt I non-stop sweated the entire run!) and then just over 6 miles on Tuesday evening at club hitting sub 8mm pace during portions of the run.

I was incredibly nervous about racing, especially after a high mileage week and made sure to leave work as soon as possible (5:30) to get to Rugby with plenty of time to get changed, pick up my number and relax before the gun went at 7:45pm.  However, as soon as I hit the M1, I got stuck in this…

Traffic jam

…where I stayed for a good half hour.  Definitely wasn’t feeling relaxed as I watched the predicted arrival time on the Satnav tick over!  Luckily though, the queues did move, and I arrived with more than an hour to spare.

When I arrived I decided that I wanted to run the race to what I felt was the best of my ability, so that I had a benchmark to improve on.  I knew my times over short distances had dropped off A LOT over the past year.  I also knew that there were a lot of miles in my legs from the past week which would hinder my ability.

The gun went and my legs flew.  It felt easy.  The course starts on a downhill, and I struggled to hold my legs back.  A lot of the first mile was sub 9mm despite trying to use my watch to keep around the 9:30mm pace.  But my legs soon began to feel heavy and on a very hilly course…

Rugby 6 elevation

…causing me to shamefully adopt a run/walk technique by the halfway point.  I’m a pretty quick walker and other than one long hill just before the last mile of the race, I never walked for more than 10-15 strides before breaking in to a run again.  As I went through the halfway point, a marshal read out my time as being 29:30.  The running portions of the race I ran at approx 9mm pace…I found myself unable to just run them, as opposed to racing them.  I’ve been so long out of the short distance racing scene that I have no idea how to pace myself for shorter distances anymore and it was soon clear I had set out too fast for the course.

The final mile is quite nice.  Perfectly flat along a pavement and you can see your clubmates waiting for you at the finish on the other side of the trees.  No chance to walk here!  As soon as my feet hit the grass for the finish their cheers were all I could hear.  We might not be the fastest running club in the county, but we are definitely the loudest!  I covered the last 400metres at Sub 7:10mm pace!  How my legs moved that fast I don’t actually know!  I grabbed some water at the end before turning to cheer the guy behind me in.  He had given me some encouragement as I walked up the last steep hill and he jogged behind.  He deserved to have come in before me, rather than the 30 seconds behind that actually showed up on the clock.  My official finishing time was 1:00:20, 353rd position, 23rd Senior female and 1m 49s slower than I raced it two years ago.  Now I have something to improve upon by the end of the season.

My mile splits were:
Mile 1: 9:15
Mile 2: 9:20
Mile 3: 10:44
Mile 4: 9:41
Mile 5: 11:05
Mile 6: 9:53
0.04m: 7:04

After cheering the last two members of our club through,  (The worst bit about being a slow runner is I never get to help cheer anyone else in.  :(  ) I headed for home, and made it back about 10pm where Dan had some tea waiting for me.

He was feeling pretty poorly and lying on the bed with the cat…I’m sure both Dan and Bella knew I was watching them at this point…look at their eyes!  Fingers crossed I’m not ill by tomorrow for my hen do!  One of my bridesmaids texted yesterday evening to say that she’d been sent home ill from work but was dosing up to try and make it to the weekend.  I don’t want to be ill too!

Dan and Bella curled up together


We had our first Wedding Acceptance card yesterday.  Very exciting!  I hope we get a few more.  We’ve had a handful of responses now, but most people have put our response slips straight into envelopes.  So much more exciting when I can display some cards around the house!  :)

Wedding acceptance card

Amongst other items, yesterday I took some of Laura’s Sweet Potato Puree Super Simple Oaty Chocolate Chip Cookies into work.  Except, as per Laura’s suggestion, I swapped the sweet potato for banana.  As I mentioned in a post the other day, one of my four year 11 students cannot eat dairy, and I wanted to take something in that he could enjoy too for after the ICT exam.  I didn’t have any dairy free chocolate, so split the mixture and made some of the cookies with chocolate chips and some without.

Cup measurements

The cookies were a big hit and all disappeared!  :)

Dairy free cookies

I’ve never cooked with banana before, and am still not sure I could eat a raw one, but even I enjoyed the cookies!

Cooking with bananaWhat sort of runner am I…that doesn’t like bananas?!  I’m also a teacher that doesn’t like tea!

Any tips for relearning how to pace myself over shorter distances?  When I was regularly running the shorter distances, I always felt like I could pace myself reasonably well but I seem to have lost this skill over the past year.  :(


16 thoughts on “Running a race is harder than racing it

    1. I actually could have run this section of the drive faster I know it! Although then there would be no chance of me picking up for a sprint finish across the field! 😛

  1. Firstly well done on the race! That elevation profile looks tough.
    I’m the worst person to talk about pacing. Like my RR10 race last week I went out stupidly fast and died for the rest of the race. Anything under 10 miles and I just lose any ideas of pacing. I usually end up blasting it and crumbling. I try and hold on for as long as possible but it’s usually not an enjoyable experience. Probably why I enjoy halfs so much more!
    My bets races though have always been ones that I start slow and get faster. I think that’s the way to do it but I’m always scared that I’ll lose time because I’m not going fast enough at the start. It’s a risk! I need to try it at Parkrun sometime when I want to go for a fast time…Normally I’ll just go out really fast and try and hold on but invariably just slow down as I exhaust myself.
    When you know the answer let me know! 😉

    1. I have those exact same thoughts running through my head…must…not…lose…time…It’s so difficult to judge how your body will tire over the distance and then, yep, the crumbling begins. :( I think about 10 miles + is my ideal as well. I’m tempted to ask if anyone is willing to pace me, but I think I might stress out with the extra pressure that comes with keeping up and keeping entertaining too. So difficult to know how to approach it.

    1. Thank you. Just be warned, running gets very addictive! As soon as you start running more it takes over your life! It’s a good job it’s good for you! :)

    1. Thank you.
      I didn’t mean ‘slow’ as such. That didn’t come out right and I hate it when people categorise as ‘slow’ and ‘quick’. I meant I’m just slow in comparison to others within my running club. They’re nearly all in before me and I don’t get to see them finish.
      We now have a whole little collection of acceptance cards on our kitchen table so they’ve been pouring in this week!

    1. I’ve used pacer bands for all of my marathons so far. Sometimes successfully, sometimes not! My issue at the moment is, I don’t know what pace I’m capable of maintaining over the shorter distances, so can’t plan it out beforehand.

  2. Well done on the race, especially after a busy running week! Over 5/10k distance now, I’ve begun to start at a comfortable pace and just try and pick it up each mile, it seems to work pretty well at the moment. I just try to listen to my body rather than looking at a watch or anything for feedback. I’ve found regularly doing tempo/interval runs really helped my speed improve quite quickly.
    Lauren (@PoweredbyPB) recently posted…Ultra Training Week 18My Profile

    1. I think this is what I need to try. The next race in the series is a 5 miler this Friday evening and I think if I plan to start at 10:30 pace, even if I end up miles off a PB, I’ll be happier with a comfortable easy pace that I can gradually increase rather than all the stop and starts.

  3. Well done on your race! Must have been a nightmare being stuck in traffic on the way there, I hate being late to a race and arriving feeling stressed and rushed. Wow speedy last 400m- I always feel like my energy is totally gone by the last half-mile of a race and I just struggle on to the finish line- I’ve never managed a sprint finish!
    Lucy recently posted…Om Yoga Magazine MayMy Profile

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