As I briefly alluded to in my last blog I had a decent run-out at Darent Valley. I didn’t really have any expectations about a time coming into the race, it was one of those see how it goes days. The race is based in the pretty Kent village of Eynesford, which is between Sevenoaks and Dartford, and (as the name suggests) follows the River Darent for parts of the route. It’s a fairly undulating route with a couple of challenging climbs, an off road section and a downhill finish.
Conditions were dry, cool and overcast, perfect for running, and I decided to initially aim at 5 minute kilometres, and take it from there. My pace judgement was actually almost spot on through the first 5k, even allowing for the first climb through the equally pretty village of Farningham and the descent back into Eynesford. The 5k point is just past the Roman ruins at Lullingstone Castle, and that’s where the off-road section starts. At that point I was thinking that with the other climb to come I might not be able to break 50 minutes, but it would probably depend on what I had left for the downhill finish.
By the time I hit the climb at 7k I’d racked up a couple of slower kilometres, there was a steady climb followed by a narrow twisty downhill section, so at that point I was thinking that I was looking at around a 51-52 minute finish. The climb is a two parter, a steeper section takes you up onto the main road, then there’s a steady drag for another 500 metres or so until you start the downhill stretch back into Eynesford. I made a point of not pushing too hard up the hill to see if I had enough left to push on, and when I went through 8k in 41 minutes exactly it gave me a real boost and I picked up the pace realising I could get a sub-50 now.
It felt good to be running fast, even if it was downhill! Like a couple of other markers the 9k board felt like it was in the wrong place, but I still knew if I could keep pushing I’d be OK, and when the 400m to go board came up I knew it was in the bag, although as it turned out both that the 200m to go one were actually about 100m out the wrong way! I was starting to feel the pace by then as the downhill stretch had given way to a flat/slightly uphill section, but I was delighted to get across the line in 49:36.
That was a real confidence booster going into a summer when I’m focusing on the 5k and 10k. I haven’t set myself any time targets yet, but I’m thinking I’d like to try and get back under 22 minutes for 5k (my PB is 21:45, within reach maybe) and see how close I can get to 45 minutes for 10k. That might be a bit of a reach, but I think I have it in me still somewhere! I’m back to the track on Tuesdays now, which will help with speed, and I plan to try and do Parkrun when I can ato get another fast run in and also to get up to number 50 and the famous t-shirt. I’m up to 42 now so it’s in sight.
That’s all for now, have a great week and enjoy your running whatever you’re up to.