I was asked my running friend if I would like to do the Tadworth 10-mile race about 5 days before the race. I was no where near enough miles in my legs, but I had been running regularly. I was definitely tempted. I mean who doesn’t like a nice challenging race to kick of the new year.
The race was on a Sunday, so the Friday before I ran 6 miles, to see how it felt. It felt okay, so I messaged my friend and said I was in. Now comes the chat about what pace we are going to run and are we going to run together?
I had a guess that I’d be running 5:45kms (and after a conversation to miles) we decided that we’d be around the same pace. Now, what I had not factored in was the hills. This is a hilly race. And it is a looped course. So every hill you do on the first lap, you know you have to do it again.
Jokingly, as we made our assent up the first big hill (and having not studied the race route) I jested, that this hill could do with being over soon… Little did I know, at that point, we were only about a tenth of the way up it.
Now I quite like running hills, I see it as a challenge. Get your head down, put one foot in front of the other and power through the legs. I have a sneaking suspicion I look a little turtle like when running hills – but thankfully no photographic evidence exists – I’d rather not know to be honest.
I tried to remember every blind turn on the way up this mammoth hill, so that on the second time around, I’d know how big it was, I’d know how much further there was. My effort was in vain – or course.
So back to the race, we stuck together for most of the first lap. A mixture of on and off road, up and down, through a town (rhyming now). Then I saw the final ascent before we started the second lap, and I let her go. I wanted to run the whole race, but I didn’t want to feel like I was holding her back.
I think soon after I was solo, I thought, hey its not that cold (it was — we were probably in the eye of the wind storm, if there is such a thing?), and I took off my jacket. Sods law, after removing a running jacket while running (not an easy feat), then the wind picked up to epic proportion. I had to put it back on, my teeth were chattering. Rookie error.
As I started the second loop, I knew the hill was coming. I started talking to lots of my fellow runners about the impending hell we were going to have to climb up. And then we started, and yes it felt never ending. As in vain on my first time up I tried to remember how big it was, but the turns and hedge rows all looked the same, and I had no idea when we were going to reach the glorious crest (and strategically placed water station).
There was a lot of encouragement, as we all assumed turtle like stature, trying to keep running up this beast and we made it, drank some water and kept on.
So on the second lap, my trail shoes started to feel agonisingly like torture devices when on the hard road surfaces. My right heel, my left middle toe, my dodgy toe nail – they all took it in turn to distract me from being underprepared for this race – in my mileage – and I was in so much pain.
On one descent a very nice man, said I was too tense, we ran and chatted, did some shoulder rolls and shook out our arms together while running, and then he told me to run on the grassy verge and he sped off. Runners can be so very kind.
I was rewarded with the amazing views of the Epsom downs as I neared the end of the second loop, and the other runners and I chatted about how lovely it was. The wind was fierce, but it felt amazing and I felt powerful running through it. I crossed the finish line in 1 hour 36 minutes, which I am perfectly okay with. Seeing as I’ve never run a 10-miler, technically it was a PB for that distance.
After the race, I had strong feelings, of never gonna do that one again – but now as I type this – I think I definitely will be up for this race come 2019. The facilities at the Epsom race course were great – inside, warm, lots of loos, easy to find information, a slide show with pictures from last year – and the best thing is just how friendly all the runners and organisers were.
The 2018 Tadworth 10 was held on the 7th January. More info here.