Today was the Oakley 20 mile race and my longest ever race to date. I was quite well prepared for a change, bag was packed the night before, number already on my shirt and gels in my waist belt ready to go.
For me, and many others this is a bit of a dress rehearsal for London. It’s the last long run before the taper starts and the last chance to try things out. In my case, I knew my kit was OK as I’d worn the same for the MK Half but I wanted to test out my fuelling strategy (i.e. when to take gels/jelly beans). Also, I thought I’d try a different gel today – I normally use High5 gels but I haven’t used the caffeine ones before, and thought they might give me the boost I needed. I did have some at home but only the orange ones (came free with a Wiggle order) but I can’t stand any orange form of the sticky stuff, so luckily a mate had a box of raspberry flavour High5 plus gels and very kindly let me have a few for today.
The day started in a bit of a rush. Mr Chips decided he wanted to come and watch along with little Chips which was lovely but trying to get a two year old up, dressed, fed and in the car in order to leave on time is no mean feat! Anyway we got on the road eventually and got to Oakley to find we needed to go to the overflow car park some distance away. As time was ticking I was dropped off to go and pick up my chip and hoodie.
I was eventually was reunited with the family and got myself ready, then joined the main assembly of runners before we were escorted to the start.
The race started well – I decided that I was going to run the first 15 miles between 9-9:30 and then foot down for the last 5 miles to check I could still run marathon pace. The first mile or so were a bit quicker than intended, but that was just getting carried along with the 1,000 other runners. A couple of miles in settled down and I was joined by a fellow DLRR who was also running a similar pace. This made the next 12 miles fly by. We had a good chat and kept each other going. At the end of the first lap it was lovely to see the other half and little Chips although little Chips was a bit confused by mummy waving and running past and not stopping for a cuddle, but to be honest if I’d have stopped, I probably wouldn’t have restarted!
The second lap was harder than the first although it still felt quite quite easy, like a normal Sunday training run. With five miles to go, I felt I needed to stretch my legs and see what was in the tank so I bade my running buddy farewell and got my head down. To my surprise I was flying past people almost straight away and kept it up the whole way home. The final mile was a bit of a grueller, through a housing estate, and finish in the school field. With400 metres to go a quick glance at my watch I realised I might just make a sub three hours, so foot down and just sneaked in – with 30 seconds in hand.
I am really pleased with how it went – I honestly felt I could definitely get another 6 out of that and ran it well within myself. The legs ache a bit tonight, I had a very tight calf after 12 miles and one of my shins feels like someone’s clouted it with a mallet, but other than that none the worse. The gels were great – I got through four and a pack of jelly beans so I think five will be plenty for London.
I’m now really looking forward to London and feel that sub-4 is a definite possibility…to do 20 miles is a great confidence boost and am now ready for it.
This was my first official DLRR race, although I wasn’t in club colours as I needed to test my charity vest out, but we were there in force and the support given by the runners to each other during and after was brilliant. There were some really good times posted by the club and I was proud to be part of that.
So, a good day had by all, I’m now sat here typing, icing my heel with a pint of beer in hand, feeling a bit sun burnt with my new hoodie on!