With many others now embracing the taper in the countdown to London, just five Harriers made the to trip to Hythe for the Good Friday Folkestone 10 Miler.
Conditions were perfect… For a day at the seaside! Families had flocked to the coast to capitalise on the upturn in weather in time for the Bank Holiday weekend and, inevitably, the promenade was crowded with bikes, dogs and kamikaze kids! I heard accounts of one bundling into lead lady’s path, sending her flying. It is unclear who came off worse.
The race started with the traditional 3/4 lap of the playing fields, before a routine out and back along the sea front. The turn point is up a short ramp to the Lower Leas Coastal Park, on the approach to Folkestone. This is only notable elevation along an otherwise pan flat route. That’s not to say its easy…
Runners were faced with a modest headwind on the outward leg, however the exposed promenade ensured the full effects would be felt. The late start (11am) saw temperatures peaking on the return leg. With no cooling effect from the breeze, the air felt dead, and those final miles seemed to drag on forever.
I didn’t enjoy this race. I had wanted to… But you can’t have the perfect day every time you pin on a number. I wondered how close to 60 I might be able to get in current form, probably slightly ambitious with the hilly TT I had in my legs from the night before.
I succumbed to usual temptations and raced hard round the field, settling into the second pack as we reached the prom. No one seemed to want to take it on from the front and I was conscious of the pace slipping above the target I had in my head. I ignored race smarts and kicked on solo. I guess there’s only one way to find out.
As I rounded the turn point, I felt a sharp jab in my ribs. I’d been knocked off my bike the week before and was thankful to emerge with just a bump and a scrape. I suspect I’m carrying bruised / cracked ribs and this injury came back to bite me. Hard. I was already at my limit and each deep breath caused my chest to expand / contract painfully. My head was no longer in the game.
I went through mile 7 somehow clinging on to 7th place but my stride kept getting shorter in an attempt to cushion the impact. By mile 8, time was slipping through my fingers and the most I could do was resolve to keep moving forward. Four runners eased past while I endured my darkest moments. This was grim, my worst experience as I runner. Mile 9 was my slowest of the day, what little energy remained ebbing away.
Cheers from the TWH support crew may not have been met with a smile but seeing those friendly faces lifted my spirits sufficiently to grimace and push on to the end. I closed in on 10th place over the final half mile, crossing the finish line just a handful of seconds back. I shouldn’t grumble too much. It was tough out there (largely my own doing) but somehow I still managed to secure another PB!
Official results have just been published (Query submitted: I was issued bib 243)
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