Tag Archives: 10 miles

Race Recap: Fred Hughes 10 (2019)

Background: Back in September, J persuaded me to enter the Fred Hughes 10 in mid-January as a goal for us to work towards. Having run this race once before, then entering in subsequent years but bailing due to illness or injury, I was keen to get it back on my racing calendar and hoped to actually make it to the start this time! So I signed up and have been dutifully ticking off Sunday long runs with my clubmates. I did a number of 10-11 mile training runs in November and December so I could finish the distance for Fred Hughes. It was the speed I was concerned about!

Goal: Given my lack of speedwork in recent months, I set a goal to finish under 1:20:00. I ran this race five years ago in 1:16:17 but wasn’t sure I would have the speed for that kind of time. This was also my longest race since 2015 – and my first 10-mile race since then. I wanted to finish without too much right knee pain (it has been bothering me on my longer runs).

Race strategy: Start steady and try to average around 5:00/km until the halfway point (5mi/8km). Don’t panic if my pace ends up being a bit slower or faster – listen to my body. Slowly increase my pace from 5-8mi/8-13km. Take a gel after 55-60 minutes. Start pushing towards home with 2mi/3km to go. Use the downhills and think about my form on the uphills. Also, enjoy it!

Weather & outfit: A brisk 0C/32F or so in the morning, with a promise to ‘warm up’ to about 3C/38F by the time the race started. I went back and forth on what to wear, but settled on the following: capri leggings (quite thin), my Craft thermal long-sleeve baselayer under my Heathside vest, light gloves, and a fleece running headband. It was cold at the start, but the sun was out and I warmed up quickly once we started running. The outfit choice worked. I even shed my headband at 5km and my gloves at 8km.

Mile 5. Photo by New Pixels Photography

The race: A narrow first half kilometre meant keeping the pace steady until the road widened and the runners spread out. My watch read 5:01 for the first kilometre – right on track. The next two kilometres had some nice downhills, which I used to gain some time early on: 4:41, 4:42. That’s okay – it’s quick but you feel good. Stay steady.

M, a runner I know through J, caught up to me around 3km and chattered away, pulling me along at a good clip for the next 2.5km (thanks, M – that helped a lot!). We went through 3 miles at 22:30, and 5km at just over 23:00. (Yes, I think in both miles and kilometres when training and racing. Maybe it’s a waste of brain energy but I like doing both!) If I can keep this up, I’ll definitely run under 1:20:00, I thought. But we still have a ways to go. Be patient.

M pulled away around 5.5km and I let her go, preferring to stick to my game plan. My next few kilometres were all under 5:00. I enjoyed the dappled sunlight and quiet country lanes, focusing on my surroundings to distract myself from how hard I was working. A woman in a St Albans Striders vest complimented my running form and ran alongside me for a little while; it was nice to have some company/motivation.

I hit the halfway mark at 37:53. I can run the second half in 40 minutes and still beat my goal for today. That gave me a confidence boost, especially when the 10th kilometre ended up being a long slog uphill. It was one of those hills where you don’t really feel like you’re running uphill until you look at your watch and realize your pace has slowed massively. It was by far my slowest split of the race (5:27), but I still went through 10km in around 48 minutes.

Running through the countryside. Glorious!

Just 6km to go. You can do this. Two kilometres and then you can have your gel. I picked up the pace for kilometres 11 and 12, to shake off the long climb and to inject my legs with a bit of energy. 4:20, 4:30. I ripped open my gel and started focusing on runners to pick off up ahead.

Between the gel and an uphill, kilometre 13 was not swift – 5:08 – but I kept my eyes on clubmate Holly and the guy in orange and red who had passed me earlier on. You can catch them. Just 3km to go. Despite feeling a bit sick at this point, I pressed on and focused on my form up the hills. The orange-and-red guy kept passing me, then slowing down enough for me to pass him back. I think I finally dropped him with less than a mile to go. Looking at my watch, I calculated that I could probably make it home in under 1:16:00 – it wouldn’t be a PB, but it could be a best time for this course. With 400m to go, I picked up my legs, pumped my arms, used the downhill and pushed up the rise to the finish.

The result: I finished the race in a 1:15:33 chip time (7:33/mi = 4:42/km). I came 230th of 840 finishers and was the 43rd woman of 412. I was the 11th of 17 Heathsiders running, and the 3rd of our 7 women who finished.

This was also a course PB for me. Sure, I’ve only run this race twice, but still – I ran it faster than 5 years ago! I’m also really pleased to have run almost 5 minutes faster than my goal time of 1:20:00, and to have run a small negative split. Guess I do have a bit of speed in these legs, despite the lack of speedwork. The crisp, sunny weather was glorious and the country lanes were peaceful. I was really happy I ran.

Post-race: Picking up my t-shirt (I love how Fred Hughes does a women’s specific technical top), gathering for a Heathside photo, jogging back to the race HQ for a quick change, sharing these brownies that I made, then getting in the car for the drive home.

Next up: The Watford Half Marathon in two weeks. My longest training run has only been 11 miles, so I will definitely be treating the half as more of a training run than a race. Plus, I’ve heard it is very hilly…


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Race Recap: Thames Towpath 10

About 10 of us non-marathoning Heathsiders ventured down to Chiswick this morning for a brisk run along the river in the aptly named Thames Towpath 10. Conditions were good: partly cloudy and around 7C with a bit of a breeze.

This was only my second 10-miler and I had to beat last year’s Fred Hughes time of 1:16:17. I knew that was possible, as Fred Hughes is hilly and this race was really flat. My goal was 1:15:00, which meant averaging 7:30 minutes/mile. I chunked that together in my head to aim to be under/around 30:00 at 4 miles and under an hour at 8 miles. Strategy-wise, I decided to go out at (rather than under) pace so as not to burn out in the last few miles.

The TT10 is advertised as a ‘multi-terrain’ 10-mile race, and it certainly is. Almost half the race is along the gravelly Thames towpath (who’d have thought?!) — this made it hard to get into a good rhythm but did keep me on my toes. It was also nice to see rowers gliding along the river down below and others out enjoying the morning.

Once out of the start (an awkward lap-and-a-half of a grassy football/soccer field), J and I tried to settle into a pace together. It’s great to race with training partner whose style you are familiar with. Our Garmins showed different average paces, but time-wise we were on target: just under 15:00 at 2 miles and just under 30:00 at 4 miles.

Shortly past halfway, we turned off the gravelly towpath and onto…a grassy field! ‘Just pretend it’s cross country’, I said to J as we ran across the thankfully-not-muddy field. A few miles on pavement helped the legs move along as the middle miles took a mental toll. J pulled ahead of me at 6 miles as I fell a bit off the pace, but I gritted my teeth, popped a couple of gummies, and caught up with her around 7 miles.

Come on, you have to make it to 8 miles in under an hour, I told myself. Pushing on, it was back to the towpath for a brief jaunt, where I finally seemed to get into a rhythm and hit 8 miles in 59:59 — right on target! Two miles to go. Fellow Heathsider R was not far ahead and I made it my goal to try and close the gap between us.

We turned off the towpath and back to pavement for the final mile or so. My Garmin chirped at 15km: let’s go, only about 1km to the finish. I shouted encouragement to R as we went up and over the bridge and I stuck right behind him as we turned the corner for the last 200 meters around the grassy field. Kick, legs — catch him! But I couldn’t quite and R crossed the line just 1 second ahead of me (although our chip times are identical according to the results).

My final time1:14:37 (average pace 7:27/mile) for a PR/PB! I came 6th woman of 214 and was the 100th finisher of 524. Plus, J finished right behind me and another Heathsider, S, came in 10th woman — combined, our finishes won us the 1st ladies’ team prize. Can’t complain about that!

Photo credit: West 4 Harriers

Photo credit: West 4 Harriers

The Thames Towpath 10 was a very well-organised race with fantastic marshals and a pretty nice haul of goodies: everyone got a Fuller’s (they sponsored) pint glass, many of us scored colourful buffs/snoods, and winners got a coffee mug and a case of Fuller’s London Pride beer (F was quite pleased about that!).