The worst race of my life?

[This was meant to go out last week but I had Blog issues annoyingly]

Alton 10 on Sunday was fairly horrendous, and sadly I wasn’t alone in that opinion. I hasten to add that this was nothing to do with its organisation, the lovely volunteers or the race itself.

I’ve done the Alton 10 before, two years ago, and it was pretty much the same course. Funnily enough when I went back to read how it went it was from a post where I also claimed to have experienced the “worst race of my life” (I’m nothing if not dramatic I suppose). Though the race I was talking about was one of our club league races, an RR10, and not actually Alton 10.

It’s handy having a blog where you document your training and races because you can go back and refresh your memory on what a race was like. From my memory and the post, it sounded like I quite enjoyed it, though I wasn’t racing it then either. No the thing that made this race hideously horrendous was the weather. Now don’t get me wrong, I loved how beautiful and sunny the weather was all weekend but for running a 10 mile race that began at 10.30am it was tough indeed. I’d also eaten a small farmyard the day before at that BBQ restaurant…

Because the Cakeathon is looming ahead (last Bank holiday in May), I’m trying to get my long runs up again so I can attempt to do a fair number of laps (it’s a three mile lapped race where you have 6 hours to do as many as you like; laps = cake as well). Last weekend I did 10.5 miles so this weekend I wanted to do 13 miles so I got up early and ran three(ish) miles before leaving for the race.


It was handy to have these three miles beforehand so I could a) test the weather out and b) test my stomach out. I’d slept awfully and that was probably mostly due to the excessive quantities of meat eaten the day before. I felt like a BBQ was happening in my tummy all night. Anyway, the three miles went well but I realised quickly it was going to be a very warm race.






I decided to don the old crop top on for the first time this year, though I was a bit apprehensive as I didn’t feel quite my best after my few weeks of greediness indulgence post-marathon [side note: no I’m not saying I’m fat, I’m jut saying that I personally felt a bit fluffy].


I thought I wouldn’t fancy any breakfast before we left but I was actually really hungry. HOW DOES THAT EVEN WORK? Bizarre. So I had a nice bowl of steaming porridge – perfect for the weather, I thought Winking smile and my dad drove us to the race. I picked my bib up easily, went to the loo (an actual loo; hurrah for no portable toilets) and met up with some of the club while my dad headed off to a spot to spectate.

I chatted away to my friend, Sarah, on the start-line and realised I was thirsty already. She kindly gave me some of her water. And then we were off. My intentions were to use this simply as a long training run, aiming for a pace between 8-8.30min/miles. I knew the course was hilly so wasn’t going to stress if my pace edged closer to 9min/miles.

The first mile was pretty standard. I got into a nice groove and overtook a number of people. It was chip-timed but tricky to work out where to stand at the start so after a fair amount of overtaking I found a nice spot of people running a similar pace to me. The first mile is downhill so it was all very comfortable and la-di-dah.

Alan DenmeadPhotos(Photo credit: Alan DenmeadPhotos)

I saw my dad and he gave me a quiet “hello” which was slightly underwhelming, but given that the race was sparsely spectated and in the middle of some lovely, idyllic country roads on a Sunday morning I’m fairly glad he didn’t go mad with the cheering.


My dad actually made a GIF of me running – how cool is that?? I find GIF’s quite mesmerising…

Running gif

Mile two hit and I was feeling HOT. There was limited shade and the sun was beating down hard. Urgh this was going to be a long old slog.

I managed to slowly crawl my way past a few people and tick along, but inside my head I was in my own personal hell. My face was hot, my quads were burning from the hills (not the sun thankfully) and I remember distinctly thinking “my legs never felt like this during the marathon”. And then later thought, as the sun seemed to sap every happy thought I’d ever had, “this is worse than the marathon”. I heard one girl really struggling saying to her friend, “I can run 10 miles no problem, just not in this temperature”. There were no happy vibes around.

My dad said even he noticed that the race felt very flat and people looked dejected. The heat was just making the race such hard work. The hills were relentless but that was to be expected. Downhills still sucked because of the sun. There were only three water stations which ordinarily in a 10 mile race wouldn’t be that bad, but in that temperature it wasn’t enough. Sensibly I stopped, literally stopped, at the water stations to drink a full cup of water and then take another to dump on my head. It revitalised me for a moment until I was hot and dry again.

I managed to get through the race by counting up the miles to mile five, and then counting back down again. The course goes out and comes back (albeit a different route) so you know when you’re heading back, which helped. I stared in wonder at a man running in a cotton t-shirt. Poor guy. Side note: I also saw a woman with four gels attached to her belt. Do you need four gels for a 10 mile race? I can sort of understand one if you really think you need it, but FOUR?

Alan DenmeadPhotos3Not sure how I’m smiling…and the photographer was handily just after the water station, just after I’d poured water all over myself! (Photo credit: Alan DenmeadPhotos)

I didn’t push the pace, not that I could have done if I’d have tried! I felt comfortable with the pace but in terms of motivation and general happiness I was struggling. The last mile was horrendous. It was like someone had popped my balloon and I was slowly deflating. My legs were like blocks, which is odd because I hadn’t suddenly got faster or anything. I’d maintained a similar effort. I felt like I was crawling to the finish and the final hill right at the end all but ruined me. Then there’s a glorious little downhill and round the corner to the end.

Running gif 1Another GIF; a bit shaky and tricky to see me!

So yeah it was pretty tough. I couldn’t have imagined trying to race it. I think had I run at home I would have run slower and I’m chuffed with the effort levels involved because of the hills but realistically this race felt awful. My time was 1:20:20, with an average pace of 8min/miles. So not too shabby at all.








Everyone I spoke to found the race just as hard. There was a feeling of Post Traumatic Race Disorder floating among us as we all agreed it was the hardest race for a long while. It was nice to have people to share my pain with as sometimes in a race you have a bad one because of your own pacing or training, but to have everyone agree was nice – though obviously I’m not pleased everyone suffered like I did!

Kudos to the Scouts who were earnestly filling up people’s cups left, right and centre afterwards as well. You can see one behind me (IN A JUMPER AND FULL TROUSERS) in this photo. Bless him.


My hair is lovely and slick back due to the water I threw over myself during the race and obviously the sweat. Nice Winking smile

But despite it probably being ridiculous hard, I’m glad I went. It was nice to be on the ‘racing scene’ again with my club mates. It made for a more interesting long run and would have been jut as hot at home anyway.


Nothing like getting a medal for a training run after all!

How do you stay cool during summer?

Have you ever suffered from ‘Post Traumatic Race Disorder’?

What races do you use gels in?

16 Replies to “The worst race of my life?”

  1. Your Dad is such an awesome race supporter!
    I HATE running in the heat. I prefer to wear a cap when it’s sunny out as otherwise my parting burns really easily. Cold water over the head is one of the best ways to cool down, but unfortunately when it’s so warm out it doesn’t take long for all that water to evaporate. 🙁
    At the Conti Lightning run the year before last there was a large water trough in the shade which had been topped with hundreds of sawn-off sponges. That was the best mid-race sponge bath I have ever had! I even took a bucket and sponge to the Grim 70m last Summer to repeat the experience!
    The shortest distance race I have ever taken a gel in was at a 15k event last Autumn, and that was purely so that I could test out a new flavour gel before racing a marathon the following week (nothing like leaving things til the last minute! 😉 ) Usually I wouldn’t take a gel for anything less than 15 miles.
    Mary recently posted…Milton Keynes half marathon – the race for the cowMy Profile

    1. Ahh race sponges! In the Paris marathon you had your own personal one in the race pack. Around the course there were loads of buckets to dunk them in. I didn’t take the sponge with me though as it would be something annoying to carry.
      That’s fair enough to test a gel! Same, gels for me are basically for marathons or for a half marathon that I want to go mega speedy on, but then even then not always and probably only if I hadn’t had breakfast beforehand.
      AnnaTheApple recently posted…Fun Questions – The Liebster Award 2016My Profile

  2. I can sympathize with you regarding running in the heat on Sunday 8th May, I ran the Essex Halstead Marathon that day….I’ve run in some hot countries in the past but that day was insane… I was wrecked..! My next Marathon is Edinburgh on 29th so hoping for typical Scottish weather that day..
    Great Boston review, well done! I’ve never been to Boston but have frequented a few of the cheescake factories elsewhere in the states….. damn good cake!
    I like your short film, You look strong in your running. I think its a good idea to get someone to film you so you can check out your own running form, gait etc. Although for me its probably best to film at mile 10 when I’m upright rather than 23 when I look like I’ve been shot!
    all the best

  3. Oh, totally with Mary on the Sponge Front. I love me a sponge and I will say that many, many times!

    That heat was brutal. It was what broke me at Manchester: sun, and a little breeze. And everyone suffers and looks wrung out.

    I’m a wimp. I like to have a gel for 10 miles. I generally end up with one every 6-7 miles.

  4. 4 gels? Crazy! I see people having them before 10k’s and I do wonder (but then also if I had one, maybe I would be faster!)- I didn’t even have gels in the marathon- just some of those fruit yoyo things.
    Well done that sounded so tough- I tend to run slower and shorter in the summer as I find it so hard to keep cool- I prefer wearing a vest but actually you should cover your skin (eg t-shirt) to keep cooler, as it shades your skin, so probably I am not helping myself.
    Love that your dad came to support you too, and did those GIF’s and photos- very technical!
    Maria @ runningcupcake recently posted…Track session round 2My Profile

  5. You rock that crop top lady! Pulling it off for sure 🙂
    And Im sorry it was such a tough race for you, but it sounds like you weren’t alone! Heat is a great equalizer, huh? I think heat can change almost every event or match, simply because we never know how our bodies are going to react to it!
    Kat recently posted…Blueberry Lemon Quinoa ParfaitMy Profile

  6. I love the gif that your dad made! I find it really hard running in the heat when I’ve done most of my training in much cooler weather… I’ve never done an organised 10 miler before but if I were to run one in training I wouldn’t use a gel as 10 miles are where I would have one in a half marathon! x
    LilyLipstick recently posted…Recipe: Japanese Veggie Katsu Bowl + GiveawayMy Profile

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