As myself, Berni and Helen Fry drove through Hayling I couldn't believe the size of it. However, perhaps more surprising was the fact that for possibly the first time in history I had chosen to do a coastal race on a day when it wasn't pouring with rain/ blowing a gale/ both of the above.
It was what runners would call "a perfect day for running". Fresh but not cold, completely still and dry. This race I had been dreading (and even contemplated not doing up until an hour before leaving) was now looking more appealing.
Lining up at the start line with a good splattering of Hedgies, something was missing. I think a lot of us have become accustomed to chip timing, meaning it doesn't really matter where you start in the field because your personal time will start when you and your chip pass the start line. As there was no timing chip, Berni and I decided to move forward slightly in the starting pack, trying to seek out that perfect spot where you aren't either constantly overtaking or being overtaken.
This was my third ten mile race in 5 weeks, and definitely my favourite. The course was as advertised: fast and flat, road and trail. It was varied, and on the occasions I took my gaze off the road ahead of me and admired the view, I enjoyed taking in the seascapes on such a beautiful day.
I found myself going through my usual race psychology during the run.
Pre race: I want to go back to bed
Mile 1: Woohoo let's go! Woah there... Not too fast...
Miles 2&3: I hate running
Miles 4&5: I'm giving up. I'll say I had a stitch/ broken leg/ serious trench foot caused by splashing through puddles.
Mile 5: Wahoo! Half way. I can definitely do this. Maybe I'll just slow down a bit.
Mile 6: That's 10k. I'm basically done. Maybe I'll try and keep this pace.
Mile 7: Only a parkrun to go! You can do this (from this point on I mentally check off parkrun laps in my head!)
Mile 8: I can't do this. I hate running.
Mile 9: I can do this! Not far now... Let's speed up a bit.
Mile 10: I absolutely positively hate running and will never put myself through this torture again. Never ever. Oh look... A finish line.
Post race: I love running! Look at my medal!! When's the next race?!
Along the way I made a new friend called Fergy (neither an ex-royal, nor a member of the Black Eyed Peas, but a nice guy from Portsmouth AC). We got talking around Mile 4, and he massively helped me around the rest of the course. I stopped talking about Mile 8 and instead responded to his words of encouragement with a pathetic thumbs up now and again.
There were two sections where we doubled back on ourselves - cue lots of opportunity for Hedgies to cheer each other on in the way only we know how! The first of these opportunities found me being more vocal than the second and my new friend Fergy politely telling me to pipe down and save my energy "that's not how I do things though" I told him.
I recently read a quote about racing that said that the best thing to do in races is focus only on the kilometre or mile ahead, and do what you can to keep your pace up for that period of running. As I got into the 10 miles at Hayling that is what I tried to focus on. I felt strong physically despite my usual race mentality, and focused on keeping to a steady pace one kilometre at a time.
The finish line of this race was a very welcome sight and came just in time. With 400m to go I kicked, knowing I was on for not only a PB but breaking the 70 minute mark for the first time. My last kilometre was done in 3.52, which I was really pleased with and helped me to a new PB of 1.09.34, taking almost a minute off my previous best. I finished 1st senior lady (4th female overall - some strong vets out there!).
Sweaty runner hugs with my new friend Fergy followed. We had a chat about running and I mentioned I had a young baby at home - I'm glad I didn't tell him on the way round as he wouldn't have pushed me so hard to achieve my PB.
There were strong performances all round from some great Hedgies. For many it was the last race of the year, and everyone did themselves proud. A big well done to Darren Butler who was running his first race as a Hedgie!
When we got home we had the great news that the ladies team had won a prize. Better still it was wine. Sally Turner and Anna Clark ran brilliantly to make up the ladies team of 3 who won the vino. It was completely unexpected by us all and well deserved - in Anna's words "I've never won anything before!" Well done ladies!
I would definitely recommend Hayling 10 - the lack of chip timing is a minor thing in what is a great race. I will be back for more next year!