Monday, 19 March 2012

Spitfire 20 March 2012

This is becoming one of my favourite races. I ran this last year prior to my last marathon, and again this year it falls in the calender perfectly ahead of the London marathon.

Perfect conditions
The Spitfire 20 takes place in and around Dunsfold, Surrey. The race is a two lap course which goes round the vast tarmac area of the local Aerodrome (made famous by TV's Top Gear) before heading off around the country roads in and around the village. The course is undulating with a couple of hills of note. The race is organised by events to live who once again put on a great, well run event.

Some of us Twitters running today
Twitter has been a great motivator for my running the last year and today brought together friends old and new from the running community. I met up with: Steve (@StevieRun71) Jo (@Jo365) Lesley(@lilbee67) Alma (@plustenner) Kirsten (@shawkirsten) Tim (@JediRider) @runningfairy and Kevin (@52marathonman). It was brilliant to talk to people in more than 140 characters! Great bunch and great to chat with.

It was finally time to get down to business. I lined up with Steve and his girlfriend Jo and the race set off at 9:30 in the spring sunshine and blue skies. Steve who is running both the Brighton and London marathon was off like a train. Jo and I set off at a more leisurely pace.

Today's run for me was all about getting my confidence back and get the miles under the belt following a bad run the week before.

At the start...Ready,Steady,Go

We ticked off the first 5 miles at an average of about 9:30 min/mile pace and probably slowed a little for the following 5. Although about half a minute slower than marathon pace I was more than happy to be feeling good and get these 20 miles logged. There are two races that are run on the day, The Tempest which is 10 miles and the Spitfire being the 20 miles.

As we reached the halfway point Jo, sadly decided to call it a day. She had been ill in the week leading up to the run and it had taken it's toll. It was good to have company on the first 10 miles with Jo (and Kirsten for a couple of miles), it made the time time fly and I was feeling surprisingly fresh. With this in mind I decided to push the 2nd half and get a boost from a negative split.

Running around the Aerodrome

My nutrition has been a bit hit and miss on the long runs, but I seemed to get it right today and will be repeating this at London. I started the day with porridge made with goats milk (apparently this is a bit easier on the stomach) and a couple of slices of peanut butter on toast. I kept hydrated with a Lucozade sports drink whilst driving to the race. During the race I carried a Lucozade sports drink, took on water at the water stops and for the first time tried the Power Bar gels who were one of the race sponsors. These were available at all the water stops and I took advantage by grabbing a few each time to stock up for my final preparation for London. I took a gel at mile 5, 10 and 15.

Power Bar Gels...Not the tastiest but seemed to do the trick!

The final 10 miles were all done under 8:30 min/mile pace with even a couple of sub 8 min/miles thrown in. With this speedy rhythm going (well speedy for me!) I felt strong and wasn't going to stop for nothing, not even my lace that had come undone at about mile 14. Now with this being a fairly good pace I was overtaking a lot of people in the second half of the race. The only problem with this was every time I went past a runner I got " Your lace is undone" I raised my hand the first few times, then I managed a "Thank you", then a "I know but if I stop I wont start again". By the time I had been told this for about the twelve time, I was thinking " I know it's bloody undone, do you think I can't feel the lace jangling around, and you've all told me 300 times!!!".......I stopped and done it up.

The last hill close to the finish brought me back to earth and slowed me a little but I finished strong and full of confidence in 2:56:24. A couple of minutes slower than last year but definitely a faster second half than last year.

I learnt a lot from today. My pacing and nutrition. To run a sub 4 marathon at London I would need on average 9:09 min/mile pace, but after today I'm thinking maybe 9:30 min/mile pace for the first half and then pick it up in the second half like today. Food for thought.

After collecting my medal and Mars bar at the finish I decided to treat myself to a sports massage that were being done my the team from Finefettle For a small donation this got me a 10 minute massage to loosen off the tight spots.

This is a great event that is well run and well marshaled and has a good atmoshere to it, one I will keep coming back to, and the day was made doubly great by meeting up with all the fellow 'Twits'

For my report on last years event click here

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