Seeing as I’ve spent some time this afternoon thinking about Christmas (it’s only 6 weeks away people!) I thought I’d better get this blog post before it’s too late. October might be my favourite running month, there’s some good races and it also signals the start of cross-country, my favourite running season. It’s a great month weather-wise too, with summer fading into autumn, leaves falling from the trees and a cool crispness in the air, great for running, not quite so much fun at the bus stop at 6:45am though!
It was a busy month running-wise, so here’s a bit about each of my races:
October 1st – Sittingbourne 10 miles
My 10 miles PB course – a probably never to be approached again 63 minutes back in 1996. My aims this time were a little more modest, sub 1 hour 20 was the aim this time around. It was a grey, damp, dull, breezy day, a shame as the rural course looks good in the sunshine, but it was still unusually humid. I never really got going. Quite early on my legs felt heavy, possibly the after-effects of my Disney race and lots of walking around the previous weekend, and I couldn’t even push it on the long downhill section towards the end, but I did have just enough left in the tank to get up the final hill for a 1 hour 18, which I was more than happy with, although I’d felt I before the race I could have got closer to 1 hour 15. That can wait until the Thanet 10 in December (weather permitting).
October 8th – Ashford 10k
My 10k PB course – a probably never to be approached again 38 minutes back in 1996, the week after my 10 miles PB (see above). This was a much better morning weather wise, clear blue skies, sunshine and a light breeze, the sort of conditions that put you in a positive state of mind even before the race starts. I’d kept training a little lighter after Sittingbourne, and decided to push it on early to see what I could do. After a slightly uphill first 1.5k there’s a long steady descent of nearly 3k, which is great for getting into a good pace and rhythm, and I already felt far better than the previous week at that stage. With a long steady climb to come after halfway I was hoping to hold it together up that as it’s all downhill and then flat from that point. I had to dig in a bit over the last couple of kilometres, but was really pleased to get a 45:35 clocking having hoped to get close to 46 minutes. I feel now that a sub-45 is back on the cards for 2018, and it’s been a few years since I did one of those.
October 15th – Maidstone Marathon & Half Marathon
My club’s annual race, so I didn’t actually run I marshalled instead, although I did run the 3 miles each way to my spot to get some miles in on the day. The half has been taking place since 1985 with various different routes over the years, and after taking a break for a couple of years returned in 2016 on a new route, and including a marathon for the first time in Maidstone for over 20 years. It’s fair to say the route is challenging, with ‘I eat hills for breakfast’ being the event tagline this year, with perhaps the hardest being within the last mile of the race. It was a busy morning as I was part of a team looking after the crossing of a busy road from two directions, and with the marathon being 2 laps it was a long day too, but still great fun encouraging everyone from the speedy runners to those nearer the back of race. We had some superb feedback on social media after the race, and look out for details of our 2018 race which should be published shortly. Follow @runmaidstone on Twitter or look out on our website www.maidstoneharriers.co.uk for updates.
October 21st – Ashton Court Parkrun (Bristol)
A trip to pick up my daughter for half-term and an opportunity for some Parkrun tourism, which was a welcome relief after the nighmare of an EIGHT HOUR trip from Kent the previous afternoon! The weather was breezy and blustery as Storm Brian had come through the previous evening, but the rain stayed away. Ashton Court is an estate just on the outskirts of Bristol, with great views back across the city. The course itself is very straightforward – a mile and a half up, turn around and a mile and a half back down the same way! As it turned out the steepest part of the climb was the first kilometre or so, it then becomes a more gentle climb to the turnaround point. I’d tried to pace it so I didn’t use up too much energy on the uphill bit, and it was good to be able to stretch my legs on the downhill section, including the very fast last section, which included a blistering 6:23 last mile! If you’re in the area I’d definitely recommend a visit, and I hope to get back again there myself.
October 22nd – Kent Fitness Cross-Country League Race 1: Knole Park, Sevenoaks
Always a race I look forward too, as I love the cross-country season. Knole Park is also a big estate next to Sevenoaks town centre, with a resident herd (if that’s the correct collective term) of deer who galloped across our paths a couple of time during the race. It’s a two lapper, mainly on grass with just a short section through woodland, but it does have a challenging climb that you definitely notice on the second lap, well I certainly did! I treated the race as a hard effort just to get used to racing cross country again, and I ended up 191st out of 491 runners. There was a also a brilliant turnout of 36 Harriers, including a few doing their first cross-country race for the club.
And that was October. I hope everyone is enjoying their autumn running and I’ll be back with an update soon.