The penultimate road race in the Grange Farm road race championship was the Billericay 10k. Having missed a few races again this year I wanted to participate in the race to help my chances of winning a championship trophy but more importantly be involved in a event with my team. Unfortunately not many GFDR runners had made the trip and for a championship race the turnout was rather disappointing. Unmotivated for the event as it was, it didn’t exactly fire me up for the race when a lack of Blue vests were on show.
Thankfully Tim Woulfe was running which gave me a decent target for the race. Trying to keep him in sight for as long as possible was the aim but knowing I’m not running at my best at the moment, I realised it was going to be a bit of an ask. Still, worth a shot in my opinion. After all what’s the point of racing if I wasn’t going to give it my all and although a PB wouldn’t be in reach a high placed finish or, better still, a podium is always a possibility.
It was a beautiful cool morning in Billericay, sunshine and blue skies with little wind. The only downside to near perfect race conditions was the coldness felt prior to the start which saw me reluctantly strip down to my vest. I had a reasonable warm up (for me anyway) which included a few strides up the hill that would feature at the start of the race before making my way back to Clare at the start line who did her best to warm me up, providing shelter in her coat.
The start of the race route isn’t the easiest of a 10k I have ever done. Within the first hundred metres the road heads uphill which although almost diminishing any chance of recording a quick time within the first mile, it does keep the pace honest rather than the usual frantic start. Paul Whittaker led the field and built up an expected lead very quickly however the rest of the chasing pack bar Tim Woulfe were unknown to me so I just took on the early uphill section at my own pace not worrying about position.
After the initial uphill start and gradual decline at 4km the route turns left off the main road heading onto quieter more scenic country roads. With the leader Paul off in the distance, Tim and I were running alongside one another momentarily and shared brief conversation. As we hit the country roads, my pace although fairly consistent, began to slip when compared to Tim, as did my chances of keeping up with him and any contention of battling it out for 2nd place. I didn’t give up on the race but I was certainly battling the distance mentally already as my legs just didn’t feel strong or springy, maybe still feeling the effects of the Chicago Marathon. The middle section of the route was picturesque, surrounded by fields and blue sky. It took my mind of the tiredness and I began to find a rhythm and enjoy the race, route and my surroundings.
A gradual descent was a welcome section prior to a ford crossing that required a little bit of navigating off the tarmac and onto a footpath. I was really enjoying the run at this stage and although Tim wasn’t getting any closer, it was reassuring that he wasn’t pulling away anymore.
The final 2km entered the more built up area once again completing the loop and heading back towards where the race had begun. My heavy legs and tired mind started to disappear and I was able pick up the pace once again in the final stages. Tim and I ran the final 2 kilometres in an identical 6:47, unfortunately my lack of speed through the middle miles prevented any sort of thrilling climax as far as the race was concerned. Running is a physical sport theres no doubt about it but mental strength is something which makes a huge difference. Mental strength can only carry you so far and regardless of how strong I was feeling mentally that day I still wouldn’t have been challenging for the race, but it does goes to show that it can have an affect, as once I was aware that the end of the race was near suddenly I felt fresh and ran my fastest kilometre of the race. I ran hard towards the finish trying to close the gap on Tim but knowing the finishing positions were already settled as he was too far ahead. I crossed the line in 34:40, far from my best time but the 3rd place finish was a really pleasing result.
Presentations took place in the hall post race I was presented with £20 for my third place finish which was an added bonus to what had been an already productive morning. The Billericay 10k is another race in the calendar that represents everything good about local club races, a friendly atmosphere filled reasonably priced race that attracts plenty of different club and runners of all abilities.
Energy Gels used – N/A