Ah the joy of a home town race. No getting up stupidly early and before The Boy wakes up, no looking up directions to places unknown the day before, no sitting in a car park for over an hour as you turned up far too early and best of all, a toilet close at hand without the queues.
The Ashtead 10k was here again and along with it, the uneven bridle path of kilometre 1 and 9, the 'will there, won't there' of the hornets, the wearing his union flag/jack shorts by the organiser and the singing of the national anthem before the start.
Being this close to home, it also gave Lovely Wife a chance of being on time for the finish too which is more of a rarity now The Boy's around and I'm please to say she made it to cheer me along the final straight and even got it on camera.
eatingtrees came to visit before the race which was good to have a catch-up and then a slow wander down to collect our race numbers, pin them on and get to the start. The course is an out and back and can only be described as 'undulating/hilly' and as I said while walking down there 'there's no chance anybody would get a PB here unless they haven't raced much'.
Knowing the area and course like I do, the second 5km is more downhill than up so at the halfway point, the thought is more, 'worst is over' rather than a 'having to tackle it all again' attitude.
It's a little bunched at the start so I took to the long grass at the sides and when I ran through the first km mark which is mostly uphill in 5:05, it boosted my confidence no end. A recent training run on this exact course was long, slow and painful so I plodded on with a renewed sense of energy.
It's a keep left on a pathway kind of race and for me personally, the plan was to get as close to halfway point as possible before seeing the leaders run back past me. As it was, I made it to just past 4km (just before 6km for them) before the leader sprinted (it can only be described as sprinting) past and got from me as well as others on the course, a big cheer/clap/well done such is the general good feeling of the runners.
I hit the half way point on 24:45 and wow did that bring a smile to my face. I was honestly expecting to fight against last years time on 52:07 but currently, I was on for a sub 50 minutes for the third time in the last four 10k's! Another motivational boost.
Right, off we go. A slapped hand while passing eatingtrees less than a minute later kept the legs moving up the hill to the back of Ashtead common and now the watch was being checked every kilometre. 6km, still under 50mins. 7km, still under 50mins and I knew 7-8km was a quick one. 8km, 5:15!! I'd backed off too much as I felt it was easy and was now only 10 seconds inside that 50 minute mark and had the short sharp uphill to come. DAMMIT! Time to dig in again and now I had pace makers. They were going at a good rate so I felt that if I stayed in touch, I could still do it especially as the final KM is downhill albeit on the most uneven bit of ground I ever run on. Well except Grim.
Uphill and 9km complete and I'd got back 15 seconds. Sub 50 was back looking likely. What I didn't know (and had I known during, I may have pushed a bit harder) was how close to a PB I had come. 49:10 finishing time. 7 seconds off a PB. Nearly 3 minutes quicker than last year and I felt great!
Wonderful marshaling, a lovely atmosphere and a great race for me personally. Today was a good day!