Race Report by Helen Rowe
I needed a 10 miler for the spreadsheet, and I thought the sooner I did it the better, as last year it was a scramble trying to fit one in. I also needed to be doing 10 miles as training for my Half Marathon coming up on 24th March, so I signed up for Ashbourne 10. I had noted that a number of other Massey Runners were also running it.
After I had signed up I heard that it was uphill for the first 5 miles, and then downhill for the second. As the date approached, I also realised just how far away it was! I had persuaded Cal to do it with me, and we arranged to car share with Emma King. It was an early start (I left home at 6.30am to pick Cal up at 6.45am, to drive to Emma’s for 7.00am). My first problem was finding the Radford Road closed, and I had to quickly think of another way to get to Cal’s without having to double back on myself.
We got to Emma’s and I transferred my (many) bags to Emma’s car, and we set off. There was not much traffic around at that time on a Sunday morning. We arrived in Ashbourne at 8.20, and parked up. It was cool, and the air felt damp. Rain had been forecast, and so we had to decide what to wear – waterproofs or not? We decided not, and armed with everything we needed, we headed for Ashbourne Leisure Centre, which was where the race HQ was. We picked up our numbers, dropped off our bags, and then bumped into the other Massey runners: Cathy Keay, Sarah Jones, and Lorraine Harris. We had a group photo taken (which was photo-bombed by one of the organisers), and then headed outside for the start. There were a number of races taking place. There was a 5K, a 10K and 10 mile, and Canicross options. It was an out and back for all distances.
We went off in waves, but there was no order to the waves, other than the dogs went first. We went off, through a short tunnel, then out in the open, along a narrow path, and then through a very long tunnel, which runs under the town, and then out in the open again, on a track. We were running along a disused railway line, called The Tissington Trail. We were very soon confronted by a big hill, then a dip, followed by a big hill, which I had to walk, and then it was a gradual incline for the next 4 miles. Because there were lots of distances being run, there were always runners, and often dogs, running in the opposite direction. You knew what distance people were running by the colour of their number, and there were times when I was wishing I was wearing a different colour! It was nice to pass Cathy, Sarah, Lorraine, Emma and Cal on the way, and I knew that when Cal and I passed I was very close to the turn-around point.
The route was scenic. There were some fantastic views at the top, overlooking Derbyshire. Some people were taking photos, but I ploughed on, as my phone was in my hydration pack, and I would have had to take it off to get it out.
All the way up I had been looking forward to being on the way down again, and I had been hoping I would be in line to get negative splits. However, the strange thing was that it didn’t particularly seem like we were going downhill on the way back. In fact there were times when I looked at people ahead of me, and it seemed that they were uphill from me. It was very strange. At 8 miles I started to get cramp in my calves, and I had to walk quite a bit to stretch them out. Then at 9 miles, (the steep downhill and uphill section) I developed cramp in my left quad, which was very painful, and I was limping as the muscle went into spasm. I was really slowed down from then on. I could only run a few yards, and then I was back to walking/limping.
At the long tunnel I knew I was nearly at the finish, and I could hear them announcing people coming in. I pushed on, trying to run as much as I could, but I needed to hold something back, as I wanted to run into the finish. As I came through the short tunnel I could hear the Massey Runners calling me and I pushed on – feeling my calves starting to spasm again, but I was determined to run the finish.
I crossed the line, and was presented with my medal (a really nice one I have to say – a steam train with runners either side).
Later, when I checked my results against my previous 10 mile results, I was disappointed to find that I had missed a PB by 2 seconds! However, it was good to know that had the cramp not kicked in, I would have absolutely smashed my PB.