…and why Ryde 10 could be the best 10 mile race locally
Ryde Harriers and the Isle of Wight Road Runners travel over to us for eleven out of the twelve Hampshire Road Race League (HRRL) races so this is the chance for us to support them in what is notoriously known as a challenging course.
The weather decided to be kind to us on Sunday 7th February considering the day before the gusts were over 50mph and we wondered whether the hovercraft would even run. The Crusaders team, although smaller in numbers than the previous HRRL race, made a good effort in attending with some going to the Isle of Wight on a holiday for the race, some cutting their holiday on the other side of the Isle short to run, some travelling by hovercraft and others by car. It was a mini invasion from all angles!
The majority of us got the 8am car ferry or 8.15am hovercraft which meant we had plenty of time before the 11am race start time to get ourselves prepared and a table to use as base camp in the race HQ. Conversation soon turned to nutrition (it was a long time since breakfast), what to wear and the course; particularly ‘those’ hills. About half the team hadn’t run this race before so we listened to the main advice of the others that had raced it – don’t speed off at the start because the first hill will knock it out of you otherwise.
The previous week a Crusader had posted this link for us to read. I personally felt ‘flat’ after the January HRRL race, not because my time wasn’t good for me, but because I didn’t run a well-paced race; I went out too fast and slowed considerably in the second half. I read the article above and decided to change my focus for Ryde from the outcome to the process as it suggested because I wanted to finish it feeling good no matter the time. My goal was to be consistent in my pacing and try to get every mile at 8 something. If it was going really well I’d go for my 10 mile race PB from Bramley the previous year.
At 10.30am it was final race prep time – bag drop, toilet and warm up. A run along the parade and up /down the hill leading to the car park a few times felt enough. We walked to the start and after letting a few cars through (roads can’t be closed due to the Isle’s road network) we were suddenly off with almost no warning!
The first few miles were fast, as they are in most races due to nerves and being pulled along by the speedies at the front. A flat lap around the boating lake and then the first hill was upon us. With Crusader advice fresh in my mind I just tried to keep it steady, but like many other hills in the race this one was deceiving; it continued around corners, flattened a little before you climbed again! The first decent was amazing though. You realised that for every ‘up’ you would get a ‘down’ which meant your lungs could breathe easier and your legs burn less.
Mile 3 is a nice flat one by the seafront. I looked down at my watch & was much quicker than my race pace so I decided to slow to not go off plan. Although it felt strange to consciously slow in a race I kept thinking “You can’t blow up after 5k. Pace yourself”. Mile 4 sees another big climb that starts to challenge your mind as well as your legs. These hills. . . they’re literally everywhere!
Mile 5 sees the peak of that hill but also other Crusaders which was the mental boost I needed. Pete, Mike, Dave and Phil were seen going the other way giving me a spurt of confidence – we were doing this! With that mental boost mile 6 sees a leg-saving downhill before a lung-busting steeper uphill that resulted in my first swears. Oopps.
Mile 7 was . . you guessed it, another hill however when my watch beeped to say mile 7 was completed I knew that it was ‘only a parkrun’ to go. I was actually going to survive these hills! And if that mental boost wasn’t enough, mile 8 was pretty much downhill. It was a well needed leg break before the final hill at mile 9. This one is big. And long. And tricky – because it flattens slightly before continuing towards the sky. And it resulted in my 2nd swear. It would have got more if I could have coordinated by body enough to run, breathe and communicate verbally! This beast of a hill resulted in my slowest mile but I gave it my all.
Mile 10 was amazing. It’s downhill. Although because we’d just climbed a mountain there was a new resistance for us (the wind) it didn’t affect me for long and I used gravity to my advantage. In my head I even said “weeeeeeeee” as I enjoyed the knowledge that it was only a few more minutes and they were all down. As the boating lake came into view again I knew the finish was in sight. The cheer from our Ladies’ Captain and other Crusaders who had come to support could be heard to give that final burst towards a sprint finish; thank you.
Finish line crossed, watched stopped and I was pleased with the race because my effort felt even and I had no miles where I was burning out. I was so focused on my plan going well that I didn’t even look at the time until a few minutes later when our first lady Crusader home (Mel) asked how I’d done. It was then I realised I’d beaten my Bramley time from almost a year ago. I couldn’t believe it!
So why do I think Ryde 10 could be the best 10 miler locally?
It firstly means a day out with like-minded people to what is a beautiful location. Not only do you have the beach, but a short drive inland means rolling hills and some glorious views.
You get a quality race which is well marshalled and supported by locals. Ryde Harriers certainly host their race well.
You get a challenge (hills) you won’t get at many other races locally.
Those hills are constant. It feels like there are more ups than downs and you have to work mentally and physically to keep going. BUT the reward is greater. The satisfaction on completion feels bigger because the effort seems to be more and it’s all due to ‘those’ hills. The same hills that resulted in a few of us getting 10 mile PB’s; the same hills that meant some of us took on their challenge and were only just short of those 10 mile race PB’s from a flat course. And those hills meant that some of us came back from last year to smash personal course records to show the improvements in our running.
The Crusaders were asked to describe the race in 3 words and they’re shown above. The positivity of them shows that despite the renowned toughness of the course the race was deemed a success by us because of its challenge. I hope that in 2017 more Crusaders join us at this fantastic race and focus on the satisfaction it brings by conquering and defeating those hills; after all us Crusaders are #Unstoppable right?