The Schools at Somerhill (Tonbridge)
Senior men’s race (10km), 2.30pm
The second race in the Kent Cross Country League was our (Tonbridge AC) home fixture and took place at the Schools at Somerhill in Tonbridge. On the weekend in-between the last fixture a fortnight ago and this fixture, I had run a hard effort at Royal Tunbridge Wells parkrun finishing in a time of 19:13. The conditions for that run were challenging to say the least as storm Brian was making his presence felt with a short, heavy shower right at the start and some strong winds throughout. For the parkrun, I had taken the opportunity to try out my new spikeless, cross-country shoes (Brooks Mach 18) to see how I got on and despite finding a lack of grip going uphill on the paths they were very good. I decided to give the shoes another outing for this race as conditions were relatively dry with only a couple of sections of light mud. Unfortunately, 1.5 miles into the race I felt a blister beginning to develop on the top of my left foot – I’m not certain whether this was caused by the shoes or the new, lighter/thinner socks that I had decided to wear, but I hope that after a few more runs in them they will start to break-in nicely.
As mentioned above, the course on the day was relatively dry and weather conditions were ideal – dry, bright and a temperature of around 12 degrees. The nice weather also meant that I could wear my sunglasses once again! As for the terrain, this is almost certainly the toughest of the races within the league and consisted of 3 laps of slightly different length but with very little in the way of flat. There are 3 gradual climbs plus one very short but steep climb towards the end of each lap and which really sap the energy out of you.
My finishing time of 40:02 was a 13 second improvement on the year before, although the course was slightly different this year. My finishing position of 65 was 1 better than last year and my coach was kind enough to provide me with the following analysis: “last year 207 finishers and this year 257 so you have moved from top 31.9% to top 25.7%”. It is always encouraging to see improvement and although I only finished one place ahead of last year, there were another 50 runners in this race and so I am pleased with my progress.
After 2 races I am sitting in position 52 in the league table (out of 182 who have competed in both races; a total of 368 have competed in at least 1 of the 2 races thus far).
The next fixture is in two weeks, on Saturday 11th November at Footscray Meadow, Sidcup. I have run at this venue once before (in 2016) and from memory the course is relatively flat with a few molehills! Between now and then I have two days left of the RonHill UK #RunEveryDay challenge for October and I’m sure that I shall fit in plenty of cycling and running after this. I do need to start getting some long runs in soon, as I have found that where I have been running every day, my runs have been shorter. Also, due to the fact that I have been so busy at the weekends recently (either racing or working) it has been a lot more difficult to fit these in, but they are so crucial in order to maintain strength and stamina.
Thank you for reading and check back in a fortnight to see how I fair at the penultimate race.