Round the Tor 10k: Lolly’s race report

This post originally appeared on Ben’s old blog, Running From the Physio.

Ben: My knee injury seems to have come back with a bit of a vengeance, so my running has very much taken a back seat to my wife’s lately. Over the weekend, she ran the Glastonbury Round the Tor 10k, taking my place, and she was kind enough to write up her thoughts for me:

This year started really well for me in terms of running.  Training runs got stronger as they got longer, and my parkrun times dropped below the magical 30 minute mark.  So of course, just before my first race of the year I got a chest infection.   Plans were changed, and I found myself watching the 10k on the Isle of Man instead of chasing a new PB.  Thankfully, though, the illness was shorter this time and my strength came right back.  Then the plans changed again.  Ben didn’t think his knee was up to racing in the Round the Tor 10k, so it was my chance to go instead.

When I agreed to take part in the race I only really knew 3 things about it:
a) it’s 10k
b) it’s in the Somerset Series
c) it doesn’t go up the Tor
The last one was fairly crucial for my decision making process.  The night before the race we looked up the course to get an idea of elevation.  I’m so glad we did.

Numbers were collected on the morning of the race as they had chips attached.  As a slower-than-average runner I very much appreciate any race that uses chip times!  We arrived at the Town Hall as other races were setting off.  Once we found where to go there seemed to be decent systems in place, but there was definitely effort required to find the right place amongst a mass of people.  Thankfully we arrived just as earlier races were setting off – any earlier and I suspect it may have been more difficult.

Saying goodbye to my support crew, I then followed the snake of people making their way to the start.  It being my first ‘local’ race I wasn’t really sure what to expect at the start.  There were the mats for the chips, and then a couple of people holding a rope across to hold people back.  Not quite what I’d imagined, given instructions about who could stand in the first section.  I walked what I hoped was far back enough, and then hung around at the side until the start.  Which was quite a while really, as we got going at least 10 minutes late.  There were some announcements over the PA, but they were pretty inaudible.

But then there was a shuffle forward and the magic moment of running.  I started my Garmin a few paces before the line and set off at a very steady pace.  Very, very steady.  I got passed by a lot of people round the first corner as we headed down towards the Town Hall.  That was fine though, as I had a much longer game-plan in mind.

Not sure the girl in purple was impressed.

After the Town Hall, the course headed up the High Street.  Up being the key word there.  The support here was amazing – definitely boosted by the large gathering of parents and children waiting to do the fun run.  At the top of the hill I saw my husband and daughter, and started to settle into a rhythm.

From there the course works its way out to the edge of the town, including a slightly random out-and-back down a side road.  Slightly demoralising given the ‘out’ is downhill.  Around that point I caught up with a fellow running club member, and we ended up staying together for about half the race which was nice.  Once out of the town the setting changed to country roads surrounded by fields.  Taking in the views, I happened to look over to my right at a break in the trees and see Glastonbury Tor.  It struck me at that point that people travel a long way to see the Tor, and I was lucky enough to be running around it.  Possibly a sign of how well things were going that I could think like that.

I’d been watch-watching the whole way.  However much I tried to tell myself that any PB would be a great achievement, in my heart I wanted a sub-60.  So I was looking to keep my average pace around 9:30 a mile (to allow for me not running the optimal route).  After the initial (planned) slower start, I’d got my pace there and kept it until around the 4k mark.  And I’d overtaken a fair few of those people who’d sped past me initially.  Then… hill.

Ok, so it wasn’t actually too bad a hill.  Mostly it was the weather.  The day before had been lovely and cold, but this was hot with very heavy air.  So the hill seemed a lot worse.  I passed a couple more club members on the way up, and the mutual support was a nice morale boost.  And the knowledge of a water station at the top helped to keep me going.

Even with the climb and slowing down for water my pace was still where I wanted.  Looking at my wrist at the 5k mark I was excited and nervous in equal measure.  30:03.  It was definitely on, but there was definitely still more work to do.  The rolling country roads reminded me of a recent enjoyable training run.  Somehow the distance kept ticking over and my pace didn’t drop.

Around the 7k mark I saw one of our amazing club supporters at the side of the road.  Cheers make all the difference, and combined with another water station I felt ready to face the final stages.  After a little more undulating country road we reached the town again.  My pace had remained on target, and it looked like it would all come down to my time at the 9k mark and the shape of the final section.

Oh look, a big hill. Run around it!

I missed the 9k sign.  There were a few worried minutes, but after a while I realised that I must have just missed it.  Nothing left to do then but to keep up the pace.  What you really want to see at that stage of a race is a sign saying ‘Welcome to Heartbreak Hill’.  Oh lovely.

The vast majority of runners ahead of me had slowed to a walk.  My tactic was to break it into smaller hills.  ‘Run to the red car’.  ‘Now run, slower, to the next car’.  The hill started to really get to me and I considered whether I’d be better off walking.  Then I saw my husband and daughter at the top of the hill and so I had to keep running.  My husband shouted something along the lines of ‘I told you it was flat’.  I had better things to do with my energy than to make a rude reply.

Passing one of the race photographers it was then well-and-truly the last stretch of the race as it headed downhill back towards the Town Hall.  Downhill sections near the end of the race are always great for starting a sprint-finish.  The final part of the course was straight, and so the clock could be seen from a way off.  I’m terrible at judging distances and knowing how long it will take me to run them.  So when I saw the clock time started with 58 I gave it everything I had.

Another of our club supporters was cheering near the end.  I fear I may have hardly acknowledged him.  All those sprint-finishes at parkrun had taught my legs what to do.  Shortly before the line an exhausted wave of emotion hit me.  I didn’t need chip timing, I was going to make it on gun time.

This was the better of the sprint finish photos. Honest!

Slightly overwhelmed, I stopped my watch a few paces after the line and slowly walked to collect my medal.  It was the shortest finish funnel I’ve seen, and it took quite a lot of determination to locate the water table further down the road.  If I hadn’t been assured it was there I’d have given up trying to get through the mass of people.  The remainder of post-race treatment was better.  Once I actually looked at the medal I realised it’s quite a nice one, which always helps.  The results appeared online in a timely fashion, and the official race photos were free to download, making the race amazing value for money.

On a personal level, I left Glastonbury with a slightly surreal feeling of achievement.  Oh, and a new PB of course.  I can now say I have run 10k in 0:59:13.  Yes, I’ve included the hours – I worked extremely hard for that zero!

Done it!

One thought on “Round the Tor 10k: Lolly’s race report

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