17 Feb 2013

109.84 - 139.89km: Blood, Sweat and Toenails (St. Valentines 30k)

When a course is described as challenging and undulating it is wise to heed the warning. The Stamford St. Valentines 30k, held each year on the closest Sunday to St. Valentines day, is a favourite for many runner's running a spring marathon because of its demanding course and timing. Another first time race for me again and the furthest I had ran for about 8 months, today was all about survival and maintaining a steady, constant pace throughout.

30km of pure undulating bliss
In the back of my mind I had set myself a target of finishing in under 2 hours 30 minutes, but this was third on the list of my criteria for the race. This would mean running the race at an average pace of 8 minute miles, something easily achievable, but as long as I was able to finish in under three hours I would have been happy with any time. When I reached the half way marker and saw 01:15:11 on the clock I knew that finishing in around 2 hours 30 would still be achievable, so I started to shift my priorities slightly. Veterans of the race had warned about making sure there was plenty left in the tank for the last 5km and the painful climb back up the same hills the race started on top of and this was still in the back of my mind.
With about 6kms to go a group passed me that I had passed some 10kms earlier, it was clear that they were holding back at the beginning of the race for the final push at the last 5km. I tried to keep pace with them, but they had far more left in their legs than I did at that point. Running with a hydration pack means that I often run straight past the water stations when I get to them, however when I saw the volunteers at each station with a gallon jug filled to the top with Jelly Babies I unashamedly made a beeline straight for them.

Despite the hills and punishing last 5km I managed to keep my average pace steady at around 5:00 minute/km and when I crossed the finishing line the clock had just ticked past 02:31:00, meaning I had missed my ambitious target time but was still a very satisfying result. A flatter course would have seen my time fall well under 02:30:00 and I'm now confident that at some point this year, even if it's not in London in April, I should be able to run a 03:30:00 marathon.

Running too fast for the camera
Whether it was down to hysteria, or the date and theme of today's run reminding me of exactly why I'm doing this but for the first time this year I ran with a smile on my face from start to finish, despite all the hills and pain. The course was signposted at every kilometre with heart-shaped markers, along with some kind of witty remark. A favourite of mine, and one that I could truly relate to read something along the lines of  "Don't worry about your toe nails. They're only cosmetic".  The poor little fella is still hanging on, but won't be for much longer.

Distance: 30.05 km | 18.67 miles
Time: 02:30:27
Official Time: 02:30:53
Average Pace: 05:00 min/km | 08:03 min/mi
Goodie Bag: Long Sleeve T-Shirt, Isotonic Drink, Shower Creme, Chocolate Bar and Love Hearts.


First 10k Split: 00:48:15
Second 10k Split: 00:51:04
Third 10k Split: 00:51:08

View my run:

No comments:

Post a Comment