Sunday’s race was one I think I’ll always look back fondly on. It was hot, tiring and very very hilly and of course I absolutely loved it. Eventually.
The build up to the race really couldn’t have gone better as I’ve said previously. Injury free and probably in the form of my running life to date – Jean had been running brilliantly too so we’d really both been looking forward to what was actually Jean’s first race of the year.
The race morning build up went to plan. I had my strategy in mind of keeping my pace under control so as to aim not to blow up like last year. There was clearly a big field, as was shown by the eventual results showing 502 finishers, but it didn’t seem particularly crowded at all. I’d seen a couple of familiar faces before the start and then got chatting to someone who was visiting from California having just come for the race. The race began a little late but we got going and I found it to be slightly heavy going. I’m not sure it was crowded or whether there were just a lot of people who had lined up too far forward for their likely pace. There was certainly someone in the first kilometre or so getting in everyone’s way by walking and causing chaos, but otherwise getting to the foot of Vallee de Vaux was uneventful.
This graph was quite revealing when I’d seen it after the race. I felt like the first long climb of Vallee de Vaux was steady and fairly unremarkable. My heart rate was under control and my pace was fine. The pink trace in the graph is my time before or ahead of last year’s run, which is the black trace. That told me I’d lost a little over 30 secs in the opening of the race but had managed my energy loads better.
About halfway up Vallee de Vaux I’d caught the group around Henry Cavill. Last year he beat me by a couple of minutes but in 2017 I overtook him quite early. To be fair I think he was having fun with his family rather than actually racing. Fair enough really.
My strength this time was primarily on the big hills. There were 4 steeper hills and I probably gained most of my time on these – they are the sharp upticks on the graph where I walked last year.
But the hills wasn’t the whole story. I ran the final 5k in 27 minutes which was four minutes faster than the 2016 running. I’d kept plenty of energy back – my 13th kilometre was run in under 5 minutes which I’d find fairly quick for Parkrun, let alone the 13th kilometre of a hilly race.
In the end I finished in 1:13:17 – about five and a half minutes up on last year. Either the second or third most improved on last year’s times out of all those who’ve done both runs. A brilliant effort really and I loved it.
There was a really good atmosphere up at the Zoo at the finish and I enjoyed chatting with a few people I knew who were running or were waiting for someone else. I was tired and had worked hard but was very happy. I really hope they keep running this in 2018.
The next challenge now is Liverpool in a little under a couple of weeks and once again I can’t wait!