Cold and extremely windy conditions greeted me on arrival at the Norfolk Showground. I delayed my warm-up until about 20 minutes before the race start and attempted to keep warm by staying indoors. I jogged a few kms and straight away it became apparent that it was going to be a tough day. The course being 2 laps meant you were running into the wind for the first half of the lap, with wind on the back for majority of the second half. Times were going to suffer.
I lined up at the start and the race got underway bang on 11am. A large group formed at the front and nobody was prepared to take it on as we ran a mile around the showground. As we exited and switched to the main road there must have been a good dozen or so runners in the lead group. I was trying to find some shelter from the wind and at the same time avoiding clipping of heels and the bumping and barging.
Through the first mile in 5:42 and then a long straight directly into the wind. The group remained together and I decided to ignore the watch and focus on racing. I was feeling good as we made a left turn to take us through the second mile. A long uphill drag followed until we made a sharp left turn to finally give some shelter from the wind. At this point I decided to pull the trigger and I made a quick break which quickly opened up the race. I held the lead for only a short while as a couple of other runners went with me. To my surprise they continued to push on leaving me in 3rd position with lots of runners in pursuit.
Running out of the wind felt effortless. With some quick miles I was feeling solid and I was again surprised to be caught and passed by another runner moving me down into 4th. Closing out the lap you have the long climb back to the showground, then a few twists and turns to make within the grounds and that meant being exposed to the wind again. I could still see the 3 runners in front of me and I was confident that I had plenty to offer on the second lap.
Sure enough I had started to close on third place. I caught him somewhere around 8 miles and we then ran together for a mile and a half being buffeted around all over the place. The same point where I made the move in the first lap arrived and again I made another break to quickly take outright third. I pushed on running a decent couple of miles and I still thought I had a chance for second but that wasn't to be. The final climb into the showground and I knew I still had a tricky mile to finish with. Lots of lapping runners and another couple of minutes running directly into the wind and as I rounded the final bend I could see another runner only a few seconds back. That was my cue to put in a spurt and I managed to hold on to cross the line in 3rd place in a time of 1:14:07.
Very disappointed with the time but the conditions were not good for distance running. I felt strong throughout which was a good sign so maybe I'll have to see if there is another half I can do before the year is out.
Here are the splits:
I have a report from the local paper that I will scan and add when I get a moment. The guy who won clocked up his 4th title and described it as one of the toughest races he had done. He's a regular sub 70 minute runner so to get within 90 seconds of him today wasn't too bad.
A couple of kms warm-down so all up 25.1kms for the day and 64.9km for the week.
Time for the pub to spend my winnings...