Hereford New Year's Day 10k 2009

I thought I was going to be late for another race! With minutes ticking by we were still stuck behind a lorry on the A road up from Ross, and it was looking like a late start scenario. Somehow, as soon as we reached Hereford, we got straight to the rowing club and parked up in what seemed like no time at all, and the team on registration were fast and efficient, meaning that we arrived breathless at the start line with around 20 seconds to spare!

With zero warmup, and freezing temperatures, I felt stiff from the start as we climbed up the lane and out past the houses into the countryside around Breinton, with no sound apart from the slapping feet and panting breath of two hundred and fifty runners. The frost was laying heavily on the road and the hedges, and a thick, damp screen of low cloud was blocking out any attempt by the sun to thaw out the ice-bound fields and trees. I soon found myself slipping slightly on a sheen of ice so I shortened my stride and concentrated on seeking out dry sections of the road - the muddy strip at the edge offered a bit of security, and sometimes the rough section down the middle, so I weaved from one to the other (on the basis that any time lost would be preferable to taking a tumble and losing a whole minute - or worse). KM markers came and went, with cheery marshals urging us on at every corner.

The roads weren't closed, but in the whole 10k I only saw a single car coming past. The course is an out-and-back with a long loop in the middle - so the first few Ks are also the last few in reverse, but the middle section is a nice circuit where you don't cover the same ground twice. Starting by the river, we climbed in a series of undulating rises to the halfway mark which I hit at around 19.30 - I was working steadily and for once in my life had not gone off too fast! There was more downhill than up on the way back down to the start/finish but there were still a few stiff climbs that tested tired legs until the last K came around, almost all downhill and my fastest of the race. I was helped at that stage by the appearance on my shoulder of the first lady, and my efforts to hold her off and at the same time to chase down the guy in front helped me get the best out of myself in those last few minutes.

In the end I came in with a respectable 38.30 ish and just outside the top twenty. Not an all-out effort, but a really enjoyable race on a great course without the pressure (self-inflicted, usually) to aim at a PB with all those slopes. Pretty rare for me to run negative splits - obviously the ascent/descent profile helped. Fran joined me for this one (see right hand pic above), and despite having worked hard all day at Nos Galan and then having seen in the new year over in Bristol, she also pulled out a decent performance just a few seconds slower than 08. The winner and second place, from Brecon, ran some phenomenal times close to 32 minutes.


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