The road to Goodwood… and beyond

At the end of my last post, I mentioned a few things I had planned for January – our first New Year’s Day parkrun double, a trip to Vienna and my first group training run in Reading – and along with that lot in early February I had my first 10k race for some time around Chichester and Goodwood.

So let’s first talk about New Year’s Day. For the uninitiated, on NYD parkrun allow organisers to do an extra event that isn’t on a Saturday, but they also allow flexibility in start times such that runners can do two events in a day. We had hired a car for the purpose to save on early starts and reliance on public transport – which on NYD might not have been an option anyway.

We had selected the parkruns in Maidenhead and St Albans based on several criteria – that the events weren’t too busy, they didn’t have too many laps, the ability to get from one to the other in time and probably most importantly not having too early a start in the morning!

Maidenhead was a very friendly event, probably slightly too friendly with a complete list of the top 20 or so participants being read out. And the most frequent volunteers. Bit odd. But it was a fantastic route around a little lake and country park and we’ll almost certainly go back.

St Albans was just as good. They were using their three lap route, which actually on our original criteria wouldn’t have qualified. The two lap route looked much more fun, but it was still a good event. We wandered into the town of St Albans too and managed to find a Wetherspoons which had a very formal queuing system and most irritatingly a car park much nearer our destination then where we’d started walking from. The running was almost unimportant in the grand scheme of things. We just had a really good day.

The weekend after I did my first Sweatshop training run in preparation for the Fleet Half Marathon. First, 6 miles then a couple of weeks later 8 miles then a couple of days ago up to 9 miles. I don’t think it was quite what I was expecting but I guess ultimately a lot of the participants already knew each other. I got chatting to someone last time and had a quick chat or two with runners this weekend so I guess it’s doing its job as a social relaxed training run.

Vienna was a great experience. We didn’t run in the end, choosing to prioritise traveling light over taking another set of trainers. We’ll gloss over the nature of the part of town that our hotel was in too. Bet the nightlife around was interesting though.

If any of you fine readers do happen to go to Vienna though, and you’re prepared and interested in a bit of history and/or sightseeing, you absolutely MUST get the Vienna Pass when you go. I can’t even begin to tell you how easy it was to just wander into a museum we hadn’t actually planned to, flash our barcodes at someone and get in. It was brilliant. Fans of Sigmund Freud should probably not bother with his museum, at least not until it moves next year.

That then brings us to the other event of the past few weeks, the Chichester Priory 10k at Goodwood. I went into it with reasonably mixed feelings about my training. Some runs had been good but some had been poor, particularly my parkruns, so I went into it hoping to be well under an hour but wasn’t certain of it.

The weekend began with driving through enormous amounts of snow. That was fun.

We explored Chichester the night before the race and enjoyed it thoroughly. I think exploring towns is finally becoming something that comes more naturally to us. It’s taken a fair bit of practice it must be said.

The race itself was good. The start was a little congested but generally people put themselves in the right pens for their estimated finish times so I don’t remember vast amounts of overtaking people or being overtaken by groups either. I generally moved slowly through the field, doing my usual thing of latching on to the back of someone running my sort of pace until they either edge away or slow down and I’ll go past and find someone else.

I established a pace in the 56-57 minute range and pretty much stuck with it. The actual running itself was reasonably uneventful. I got chatting to someone at the entrance to Goodwood Circuit around the 6k mark who warned me that the circuit itself was a bit dull.

(But, like, duhhh, it’s a motor racing circuit and they can’t all be like Brands Hatch. Thank goodness!)

I had identified before the race that the circuit climbs until about 2k left then it was gently downhill most of the way to the finish on the Goodwood grid.

That helped a strong and fast finish with the final kilo coming in at 4:56 and still accelerating to finish in a time of 55:52. “Only” my eighth fastest 10k ever but my fastest since the Poppy run in 2017 so it was a fine achievement.

I guess now it’s time to look forward to Fleet in a little over a month now. I really enjoyed Fleet last year and I’m looking forward to doing even better this time. Still got a bit of work in training to do first though but I’d say I’m just about on track.

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