This is my race report from the Cabbage Patch 10 Miler (in addition to the review that I wrote for Men’s Running that you can read here). This is an important race in my calendar, as it acts as the Mornington Chasers‘ club championship race – the first man and woman home in each age category is crowned the winner at the Christmas party and has vouchers and the year-long adoration of the entire club bestowed upon them (well, the voucher bit is true at least).
I was not able to race last year because other races and training took priority and I really, really missed the banter and the excitement that comes with racing all the other Chasers for the title of club champion. I had that honour once before and I felt that I would like to have another crack at it.
However again this year it looked as though the hectic race calendar would get in the way as my coach Nick Anderson from RunningWithUs, was very keen (that is VERY keen) that I should race in the opening Met League cross country fixture at Claybury on the Saturday. If I was to race hard on the Saturday, going for the title on the Sunday would probably be a bad idea.
Man up! Race twice!
But I think that I may have become a bit soft of late and I decided that I wanted to race on the Sunday, so I was going to race on the Sunday.
I must admit that when I got to the cross-country on Saturday afternoon and it was starkly obvious that all of the Chasers that would be gunning for the championship were not there, I thought I might have made a mistake. Then before I had a chance to think about taking it easy on the muddy hills of Claybury, Nick strolled up to me and fixed me with that look which told me that he would be watching me and making sure I gave an honest effort. “Oh well”, I thought “better get on with it!”
The cross country went OK and I gave a reasonable account of myself. Having very little experience of the ‘cross, I have never been the best in those races, but it went well.
Would I pay for racing twice?
On Sunday morning though, I could definitely feel the effort from the day before in my legs. This 10 miles was going to be tough.
The starting signal sounded on a beautiful morning in Twickenham and we were off. I was locked shoulder-to-shoulder with the man from the Chasers that I feared the most. He had recently run a useful 10km race and looked to be on good form. There was nothing else for it but for me to just get into a rhythm and try to stay with him.
It turned out that at the very point at which I thought I might have gone off a bit too hard, so did my club-mate. We reached a bridge at about 4 miles and my hamstrings and glutes were really tightening up from the cross-country just 18 hours before. I thought that if my club-mate surged, I would struggle to stay with him. So I reasoned that I needed to do something to try to give myself a boost. We hit the bridge in a group of four and I kicked a bit. Suddenly there was no more group and I was ahead of my friend and rival.
Racing for the ‘win’
I instantly felt better and locked-in on the back of the runner in front, recognising his Heathside vest. I pushed as hard as I dared to get up to him and once I was behind him, settled in for a few minutes. He turned out to be a master navigator and took the ‘racing line’ at every opportunity, so I was really happy to follow for a while.
Once I had settled a little, I moved to the front and said that I would take a turn. My new companion was happy with that and we worked well together all the way to eight miles.
From eight miles I found myself on my own and my only concern was not getting caught and passed by another Chaser, so I dug in and tried to push on. My Garmin tells me that my pace was pretty constant so whilst I didn’t speed up, the extra effort in the last two miles at least ensured I didn’t slow down.
I finished in 57:45 as first Chaser, so the vouchers (and adulation, possibly) are mine. I know that nearly 58 minutes is rather modest – I was a full 10 minutes behind the winner! – but I was happy with the run and my time. Training has been patchy recently and I had raced the day before. All in all it was a great day! And I discovered that it is possible to race twice in a weekend – it is just a matter of mind-set!