Friday, 28 February 2014

Windsor & Eton Winter Fun Run

Dorney lake is starting to feel like a second home. In the past year I've taken part in three events there and last weekend was my fourth. The site lends itself well to open water swims, duathlon and triathlon but this was the first time I'd taken part in a plain ol' running race; one of the Windsor and Eton Winter Fun Run series organised by F3. I'd chosen the 10k distance. Unusually for a race, the start time was at 12:30 and we were under strict instruction that we would not be allowed on site until 11:30 at the earliest as there was a duathlon taking place in the morning.

Dorney Lake is not a complex site. However it turns out that what a marshal who's been there since some ungodly hour that morning means by the instruction "follow the road" is in fact "bear right where the road splits". This slight misinterpretation meant that I spent the first 10 minutes on site driving up and down the outer road trying to find somewhere to park that wasn't a kilometre from the start. Never mind.

The registration and start area, though tiny compare to all the other events I'd attended here, was perfectly formed. I was in, out, branded (with felt tip), goody bagged up, ankle tag in hand and waving the smell of the catering table out of my hair in around 5 minutes. My warm up took the form of walking backwards and forwards to the car twice to drop of my bag and then retrieve the ankle tag I'd left in my fleece pocket and then doing some stretches in the toilet queue.

The small number of entrants meant that the race briefing cold be given without the need for a megaphone and soon we were all marched across to the start line. No timing mat, no inflatable start, just a virtual line and an air horn. Simple but it seemed to work. It didn't take long for me to realise I was seriously overdressed for the occasion. I'd left home early to volunteer at parkrun and hadn't anticipated how warm it would get later in the day. Thermal leggings and a long sleeved merino top were a bit over the top on what was a sunny and warm, all be it breezy, day although I was glad of the sleeves… if there was no breath of air in the rest of the country I reckon it would still be windy across the lake.

The course was wonderfully flat, with the only inclines being over the bridges on the path that runs down the interior spur of the lake. It's the kind of course you could well expect to run a PB on and that's what I was aiming for. Despite my lack of training I was psyched up to give it a shot. Running the 10k distance involved running 2 laps which meant 5k of sheltered running and 5k of running into a headwind. I paced myself against other people, picked a few people off, thought it wise to take a short walk break to drink at the halfway mark and was focusing and so hard on the finish line in the last 2k, pushing my legs to keep on going, that my vision went a bit funny. A recovery shake never disappeared so fast nor tasted so good as after that.
Toffee Fudge… my new favourite flavour. I'd keep racing just to have these.
It was all worth it though. I knew I couldn't have run much harder without doing myself a damage and I am in love with my wonderful chunky medal. It wasn't until two days later that I realised I'd exactly equalled my PB, something I'm incredibly happy about, all things considered, and I'm not disappointed to have come 48th out of 77 ladies running the 10k.
Bling bling!
A phenomenal number of events are held at Dorney Lake every year there on top of providing a training ground. Human Race organise a lot as do F3 so if you're keen to try something new or aim for a PB any event here would be ideal. Check out the organiser sites for upcoming races. My event was the second of a series of four, the next ones being on Sunday 23rd March and Saturday 19th April with the choice of running 5, 10, 15 or even 20km so you still have a chance to enter one if it takes your fancy.

I got my race place thanks to the wonderful Write This Run team. My result here gave me so much reassurance and confidence. Thank you.

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