Racing again – Port Sunlight 10k

Does anyone read this for up to the minute news about what I’m up to? I really hope not.

Not last Sunday, but the Sunday before was the first ever Port Sunlight 10k and I ran it. Not only did I run it, I was proper looking I think it was a combination of the fact that it was a brand new race and that they sent safety pins out with the race pack, but I had a feeling that it was going to be a lovely one. In fact, how can a place called Port Sunlight be anything but lovely?

The soft mist of spray on the breeze was very welcome

Port Sunlight was built by Mr Lever (of Lever Brothers fame) for the workers at the Sunlight soap factory. What makes it wonderful is that he commissioned thirty different architects to design the houses, meaning that there is an incredible mix of styles of housing – in fact the village has an amazing 900 listed buildings within its 130 acres. This was always going to be a bit different  to running along Blackpool front.

It’s a bit posh round here

When my safety pin filled race pack arrived, the first thing that I did was look at the course. The second thing that I did was start panicking that I was going to get lost. It’s a two lap race that goes round the village in a sort of complicated figure of eight – I tried to trace the route by following the arrows on the map, but kept ending up at the start point without going around the top half of the eight. Sensible logic told me that (a) there would be marshalls and (b) it was highly unlikely that I would find myself at the front of the pack yelling “tally ho chaps, follow me….”.

Even though my training continues to be unfocused and erratic, my enthusiasm for the race had me convinced that I could pull a decent performance out of the bag. It turned out that whilst a positive mental attitude is important on raceday, it cannot replace sweaty hard work out on the pavements. Whether it was a bit of sunshine, thinking too hard about what I was doing or a lack of actual training, I did find it hard going and although I was happy with the first half, I slumped between 5 and 6km and found it hard to get going again.

Strictly speaking, this is mostly the queue for the loo rather than, say, the start line

The race itself is very friendly – lots of local runners from the village and lots of people standing outside their houses cheering on people they know. The looped route made it quite spectator friendly and the sight of Ginge popping up when I least expected it was a welcome bonus. My other spectator highlights were a girl playing the spoons and the lady who yelled “come on, no slacking” at me as I shuffled past her front door. The marshalls were plentiful and supportive – on the second loop “this is the last time that you’ll pass these marshalls!” kept me going for a stretch. There was a good mix of club runners (to the chap in full compression gear – I salute you and can only imagine the ‘flub’ sound that would accompany me taking off that amount of tight lycra), mid-level runners, beginners and a bloke who was running proper barefoot. All in all it was a good morning out, even if my time wasn’t the best I’ve ever managed.

My lesson learned is that if I want to get a bit faster, I’ll have to have a bit of focus and as such I am embarking on a plan to shift my arse into gear. Luckily it’s nearly Juneathon…

Drummers – a guaranteed pickmeup

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