If you have been reading my blog for the last few months you will know that the Waddesdon 5k was my target 5k race for the summer. I wanted to not only beat my time from last year (28:40) but to get my personal best time down to 26:30. So did I do it? You’ll have to read on to find out.
The Waddesdon 5k is an out and back race. You run down the hill, return up it and then have to do a lap of the manor to complete the 5k.
It’s quite a club event, something I didn’t really realise last year, probably because I had only just joined my clubs. Almost all the competitors were in club colours and I suspect those that weren’t (like me) were club members who just didn’t have a club vest. It was great seeing the friendly encouragement clubs members give each other as they warmed up together in small groups. It was even more noticeable as running the race as people shouted out ‘well done, keep going’ as they passed each other on the route.
As this was my target race I had been following a training plan to get me speedy. When I first started the plan it seemed quite reasonable, three runs a week, two of which were speed sessions, and for the first three weeks I had followed the plan quite well. However, what I wasn’t expecting is that after I completed my Leadership in Running Fitness I would be leading two social running groups a week. So my two speed sessions per week slipped to one, if I was lucky. All this meant that by the day before the race I started to doubt whether I would be able to reach my target.
Thankfully, my doubts vanished by the morning of the race and I woke up deciding I would be ‘strong and determined’ and do the best I could. Those two words kept me going all day and became a bit of a mantra through the race. I also decided that my race strategy would be to go fast at the start, taking advantage of the downhill section, and to not look at my Garmin to check my pace or the lap times for the miles.
I made sure I arrived at the race in plenty of time which allowed me to properly warm up. I slowly jogged around the manor grounds, ran up some hills, did some stretches and generally got my muscles moving. I have read that the warm up is even more important in a short race as you need to be firing on all cylinders as soon as the gun goes off.
The start of the race is a little bit of a bottle neck as everyone gathers in front of the manor and needs to funnel onto the path. So when the gun went off I felt a little bit trapped and not up to full speed straight away.
This year the hill didn’t seem so steep. Whether it’s because I was expecting to run back up the hill unlike last year when it came as a nasty surprise or because I have been running more hills or because I had just done a very ‘undulating’ 10k a few days before I’m not sure but it didn’t feel as much of a struggle.
However, what was a struggle was the arrival of the dreaded stitch! It started around 3km, just as I was starting the uphill section. I tried to ignore it, I tried to breath it out, nothing was working. By the time I got to the flat loop of the manor it was so bad I took off my running belt in the hope it would help and had finish my run clutching the belt in my hand. It helped a bit but only went away once I stopped running.
As I reached the finish line I really had no idea if I had made my target. It was with some trepidation that I looked at my Garmin and to my complete surprise I had made it! 26:37, it was such a shock, I couldn’t quite believe it. All those speed sessions had worked after all.
I will definitely by running the Waddesdon 5k again, although I don’t know if I will be in a position to try and beat this year’s time!