Dorney Lake 20 Mile – 31.3.19

Race Report by Claire Newman

Mothering Sunday meant I got to choose what I wanted to do, and what I wanted was skip breakfast in bed, leave the house before kids even woke up, and travel to Windsor to run 20 miles around Dorney Lake. With a head cold.

I travelled in style with Lisa J, and her heated seats, and we met with Cathy, Nicky, and Darren at a very busy Race HQ. This was my first time at a The Race Organiser event not at Draycote and I was a little surprised by how busy it was. I was hopeful that it would mean I wouldn’t be on my own for the last lap like was at the Draycote 20 last year as that was really tough on the mind.

I did last years 20 miler in 3:48, which is dead on for a 5 hour marathon. That was with the ‘undulations’ of Draycote. Even though most of my training has been on an elliptical I had been hoping to manage similar at Dorney as it was flat. But I felt rough with a sore throat, tight chest and fluctuating temperature, so I was just hoping to do it in 4 hrs, if not 4 hrs…to just bloody do 20 and be done with it!

Dorney Lake is a man-made rowing lake used in the 2012 Olympics and we passed the Olympic Rings towards the end of each lap. Each lap was 4 miles and participants had the option of running 16,20, or 24 miles. It was a nice mixed field. Lots of elites in their tiny shorts and singlets, lots of running clubs (including some from Northbrook who gave me a cheer as they lapped me), and lots and lots of people who had never tried distance running before and were using this as training for London.

After a brief and amusing warm up we kicked off anti-clockwise around the lake. The first mile was extremely congested, I ended up in-front of the pacer for the 4.15 marathon time and was still only doing a 12min mile. It soon spread out though and I settled into listening to my podcasts and finding my pace. At the halfway point on the lap there is a switch back, I was expecting to hate it, but it was a nice chance to wave at everyone as we had all settled into our different paces.

The first lap was comfortable and I entered the second lap happy with my pace. I wasn’t pushing it too much and I felt like it was a doable marathon speed. However, around the half way point I started need the loo. I NEVER need to wee during a race and hoped it would go away but as I approached the end of lap 2 I decided I needed to just go and nipped into the portaloos. This is pretty faffy, as if you’ve not seen me get ready at the start of a race before you might not realise that I safety pin my vest to my leggings at all races 😂

Lap 3 I started to feel a bit rubbish, I just felt knackered. Not normal race tired, just like I had a cold and should be in bed tired. I had a Cliff Bloc and pushed on, but it was starting to feel like a slog. Lap 4 was even worse and at the switch back I was having an argument with myself about just stopping at 16. After all, 16 miles with a cold is pretty good going, but as I got back to lap point the lovely lady on the microphone was so encouraging and I just thought about how utterly pissed off with myself I’d be if I stopped at 16. If i can do 20 miles with a cold I can definitely do London. So off I went again munching another Cliff Bloc. Lap 5 involved a lot of walking. I knew now 3:48 was not doable and figured 4 hrs was not achievable either. By this point I was starting to feel nauseous so I picked up a bit of banana at the aid station. Won’t do that again! Sicky banana burps for the next mile!

At 18 miles I checked my watch, and realised that if I picked it up a bit I MIGHT be able to make it in 4 hrs. The idea of that helped get me going again and I overtook a few people as I approached the finish. I was SO happy to finish. And so chuffed I had done the 20! Offical time was 3:59:59…so I got in JUST under 4 hrs😉

Back home I was presented with my Mothers Day gifts and had a very long Epsom salt bath with a glass of prosecco. Bliss. The day after my legs ache, but not nearly as bad as I was expecting. But cold has stepped up a gear and I have totally lost my voice (much to the kids amusement!)

So that’s it…I can now taper! I am impressed that it is possible to get to 20 miles with just running once week, anything is possible! 👍