After a week’s hiatus and two weekends of stormy weather in the meantime, it was the turn of Stowmarket Rugby Club to host the Wednesday League.
In my last report, I mentioned how good the weather was for a mid-week afternoon in February, I needn’t have worried though as the conditions here were much closer to what you’d associate with the weather in the middle of the winter with it being wet, cold, windy and very heavy underfoot.
The course here was a long out around the perimeter of a few farmer’s fields and then into a woods for two laps in what was very soggy and muddy conditions underfoot before repeating the same farmer’s field route back to the start. After a race briefing in the rain everyone huddled in a line and we were sent off by a man with a whistle. I was very close to the front from the start and once things settled down after the first few hundred metres I was in third place with two runners from RAF Marham & Wymondham in 1st and 2nd respectively. I could feel three of four others in amongst it with me though, so I just tried to find the best race line for the first mile before we hit the woods. The route to the woods was primarily uphill before a swing gate which was single file entry and it did occur to me that there could be an un-sportsman like advantage to be gained here if the gate “swung” the wrong way at a crucial point!!
The paths in the woods varied from being a muddy uphill quagmire to being fairly solid, but with plenty of puddles and tight turns it was really difficult to keep a real momentum going and my mile splits were significantly down on where they’d be normally. Not long after getting into the woods I overtook the Wymondham AC runner, but could still hear and feel two or three runners behind me from my group earlier. I managed a small surge on one of the flatter bits and soon it was just me and my main rival from the last two weeks, although I still had sight of the runner from RAF Marham not that far off in front. After an almost comical left then right not sure which turn to take it we’d got back round to the gate for the start of the second lap of the woods.
The second lap was harder going than the first due to the course being chewed up by all the runners, but now I knew where I was going I was starting to feel more confident especially as despite the tough conditions I knew I wasn’t near my red zone so had plenty left in the tank. After the last little uphill through the gate we were back onto the edge of farmers’ fields and it was almost all downhill from here. The exception being a small kick up where we ran along a small bit of road.
On the way out I’d ran on the verge in my spikes, but this time I was taking no chances as my main rival was still keeping up with me. As the road flattened, my watch beeped with mile 5 – 6.12 and I saw my rival try and surge away from me. At that point I knew I was going to take 2nd place as I covered his move and felt I was a good 40 secs a mile off what my road pace would be, so that gave me the mental strength to easily dig deep for the last part of the course home. At this point my rival drops off and as I start pushing my legs harder for the last loop of grass onto the rugby pitch for the home straight. In home in 2nd for 5.43miles in 34.13.
Really pleased with this performance as this course was challenging in lots of different ways, and it could have easily ended up going very wrong.
Three races left with Marham up next on Wednesday 26thFeb, before the league table starts to get adjusted for the final standings which means loads left to play for….