So this morning I was up again fairly early, ready for the Hatfield 5. This was the inaugural event, and a pretty small field of 400 runners. I was hoping it would be pretty low key, but it seemed that running clubs from all over had travelled to be there.
I decided to drive, even though the start was only about 2 miles away. I think had I been well all week I would have run, but I still have a bit of a cough and I thought that if I was struggling on the way around I would not want to have to run another 2 miles to get home. It did feel a bit lazy though!
Anyway, it started at the uni campus, and parking was fine (they have a multistorey car park) and then race HQ was inside one of the buildings which was great – I had left my jumper in the car so it would have been a bit cold to stand about in a t-shirt for 45 mins. The numbers were available to collect- no safety pins but I had brought my own!
The timing tag was not very secure- it had nothing sticky on it, it just sort of looped around, but luckily one of my friends had some tape so I used that to tape it up. A well as my Sweatshop friends I also saw a lot of ladies from the running club I have just joined, so the 45 mins before the race flew by as I was chatting to them all.
I was feeling pretty nervous- there were so many people in club vests I really think that hardly anyone was not a club runner (and yes, I know now officially I am one, but I wasn’t a registered one as I had not joined when I signed up to the race)- it really felt like I would be right at the back which is silly because although I am not the fastest runner, I have sped up and I think I am sort of running average speeds now.
Anyway, just before 10 people began walking outside to the start- I tried to stand near the back, and then we were off! The route was quite nice actually- they had put a map of it online, but I wasn’t quite sure where all of it was. We ran along roads initially, then along the old railway line (now a path/ cycle way), through some country lanes, a bit alongside a dual carriageway (part of some of my longer running routes), then the final mile was repeating the first mile in reverse, through the country lanes and path again. I was not sure what to aim for, especially as since doing Brighton two weeks ago I have only run once- the first week I was just so busy with work, then we were away at the weekend, and then I had this bad cough, so on Friday I did a 2.5 mile run to check I would be OK, but that was all. I looked at my past 5 mile times- one was a 5 mile cross country mudbath in 2010 that took me 52 mins, and then the other was the Olympic Stadium 5 miles in 2013 which I did in 48.19, so really I wanted to beat that time, but if I had a massive coughing fit then I would have to adjust my expectations.
I decided to aim for 9 minute miles to aim for 45 minutes, as I managed that sort of pace at Brighton the other week, so I knew my legs could take it. At first when I was glancing at my watch I was a bit too slow, but later on when I looked I had managed to get 8’s at the start, which is always good!
The final mile was pretty tough as the sun had come out (a really gorgeous wintery pale sunlight) and even though I was just in a t-shirt I was really hot. My worries about the club runners were of course unfounded- I mean, there were lots, but everyone was very friendly (in fact when I had finished someone came up to me and said “great running”- I think I may have passed her towards the end but I don’t know). I caught up with one of the club girls with half a mile to go, and had a brief chat (more like gasps) before heading to the finish line. The rest of the Sweatshop crew had finished ahead of me and were right on the finish line waiting for me, so once I had put on my medal and had a drink (we all got given a water bottle with water in- you know, a memento bottle and not a throw away one) we had a group photo.
It was so sunny by then too. My watch said 44.48 so I think I got in under 45- shall have to wait to see what the official time was. Looking at my Garmin my miles were 9.00, 9.06, 8.50, 8.54, 8.48- pretty pleased with that! (EDIT- chip time was 44.44- how cool!).
There was a Starbucks in the race HQ building, so I got myself a warm drink as I had left my jumper in the car and it was a bit chilly.
The race organisers also do a local 10 mile race in January, so I signed up for that this afternoon.
After a shower and some work I had pancakes for lunch- yummy buckwheat ones with Meridian mince pie filling and a cooked apple- delicious.
All in all, a great race, and one I would certainly do again. It was not costly, you got a medal and a water bottle (with water in it) at the finish, it was local, quite a nice route (apart from a small section by the dual carriageway but even that was OK), and 5 miles is a good distance too.