Wednesday, 8 June 2011


I came across the Llandudno 10 mile road race quite by accident. When I trawl the internet for races the distance it is from home is important. I don’t have the patience, time or money to travel for hours on end to a race. So, when a race turns up on ones doorstep it would seem churlish to refuse. The race promised to be a flat route which was something else that drew me in. I wanted a chance to test my fitness. The plan for the race was to be steady and comfortable for the first half then to push the last half. A negative split, as the elites say. I knew that I was looking at an 80 minute to 90 minute finish. Anything outside this would have been a surprise.

I had registered the day before so I had a little more time on the morning of the race. I arrived a couple of hours before the 12 o clock start and walked to the race start area and expo. The expo was in Venue Cymru which was a great place for all the stuff needed at the start of a race. All the facilities were top notch and there was plenty of room inside to shelter from the wind! After a warm up jog back to the car I got changed into race trim and noticed that I forgot my bloody inhaler. I don’t usually need it during a run but like to have it as a precaution, especially in the hayfever season. Luckily, I wasn’t feeling wheezy at all and would just have to hope for the best. It was too late to go back home and get it.

I jogged back to the start ready and excited. High winds were expected for the day and were already causing problems. The mile markers around the course had blown down which caused a blustery and miserable 25 minute delay to the start. This caused a slightly underwhelming start to the event and is excusable for a first time event. I’m sure the organisers will get it sorted for next year.

I didn’t even hear the starting gun but soon enough everyone was shambling forward. After the usual place jostling of the first half mile things got into a rhythm and the full affect of that wind was becoming apparent. I was checking my pace every minute as it was very difficult to judge in the wind. I was also making sure that I was behind the largest runner or pack of runners when heading into the wind. I was surprised that everyone was not doing this drafting. It makes sense to me that everyone should group together in these high winds and help each other out. But everyone seemed content to be strung out, struggling into the wind. The good thing was that the nature of the course meant that there was an equal amount of running with the wind. Despite this wind I was really getting into a good rhythm over the first three miles.

Mile 1 - 8:35 / mile 2 - 8:15 / mile 3 - 8:06

The course folded back on itself a number of times so it was possible to see the front runners whizz past. Man, those guys are quick. I am hugely jealous and respectful of their speed and clapped as they sped on by. Mile four presented the first challenge of the day. The slight incline required a bit of pushing to maintain my pace. It was over soon, back into the bliss of downhill. This coincided with the halfway point where I started to up the effort level.

Mile 4 - 8:21 / mile 5 - 8:16 / mile 6 - 8:07

I was pushing a bit harder over the next few miles but was certainly not going all out. I was on target pace and did not want to scupper a strong finish by being over enthusiastic mid race. The thing I noticed was that I was overtaking lots of people despite the wind. I was just lining people up and moving past them. Great feeling! I was dealing well with the wind and still felt good and strong. I only started to tire during the ninth mile which brought with it the final hill of the day.

Mile 7 - 8:21 / mile 8 - 8:32/ mile 9 - 8:24

The last mile was pure, exhausting agony. I made sure that I pushed with everything I had along the sun baked promenade. In between fighting the swirling wind and the urge to throw up, I pushed through to the line covering the last mile in 7:08 minutes. My finishing time was 01:21:49.

I am pleased with my performance. Not only was this the fastest I have ever run over 10 miles but it was also one of the most controlled races I have ever run. I was sustaining my target pace without ever in danger of ‘blowing up’. I worked hard but I was never thinking I was too tired to maintain a good and efficient running style. I was constantly concentrating on maintaining and improving efficiency and as consequence, the race flew by. The most important thing is that I enjoyed the race from start to finish. Okay, maybe that last half mile was uncomfortable but it was certainly nice to finish knowing that I’d thrown everything at it.

The Llandudno 10 mile race is a good event. Venue Cymru and the promenade are ideally suited to hosting such an event. The course was a bit boring but pleasant enough. My only gripe is that the route didn’t take us around the Great Orme. This would have provided a tough climb but the runner is rewarded by spectacular views out to sea. It seems silly not to include this just for the sake of a flat, fast course. Who cares about a PB when you get an amazing view in its stead?

It is nice to be back racing again.


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