Race recap: AW20
I was almost as nervous for AW20 a few weeks ago as I normally am for an actual marathon! This was a key race for me and an opportunity to go through a full mock-up prep of the day before and day of London Marathon (now only just over two weeks away)
I'd been looking forward to this one for months as I'd never ran a 20 mile race before. The route started at Shoreham and followed the seafront through Worthing and Lancing for 10 or so miles before turning back.
The 8am start coupled with the clocks changing meant it felt very early indeed to be lining up. The first few miles took us through houses before turning a corner and onto the seafront for the next 8 miles. I had two aims in mind depending on how I was feeling - aim for 8 minute miles (my marathon pace) or reach for the staaaars and aim for 7:45 minute miles. I knew as soon as I trotted off I was going to aim for the quicker pace - if I could pull it off it would be an incredible confidence boost and a really useful indicator of how well London could go.
So the gauntlet was set and off I went. The out stretch of the race was pretty mild weather wise, the wind wasn't too much of a bother and I felt I could keep my pace nicely on track.
I was absolutely buzzing to try Maurten gels for the first time ever on this race and had them planned for 5, 10 and 15 miles. I'd heard they were chewy..and yeah, it's not unlike chewing down on a block of uncooked jelly. And they are very sweet! I had all three gels and the positives were, no adverse effects (I am very susceptible to cramps, stitches and general guts ache when I run!!) but no real positive effects either. SIS gels give me such a noticeable whooooosh when I have them and I really missed that boost. They aren't bad, but for me not worth the hype (or cost).
The first half of the race was pretty uneventful and I was able to get in the zone quite happily. Things got interesting, and by that I mean hard, just before the turn round point where the route took us right onto the beach front and a hideous narrow gravel path that seemed to go on forever. Then at the turn around point, I turned and found myself..alone...no one in front of me. It was bizarre and a little unsettling as I was worried I'd gone the wrong way! In the end I didn't catch up to another soul for probably five more miles.
The route back along the seafront was headwind central and it hurt so much to keep pace in that sort of weather. I tired quickly and had just had to grunt and huff and puff until mile 17 when I'd promised myself a Caffeine Bullet. Another experiment ahead of London, and this one is a keeper! They aren't going to win any prizes for their taste, and the paper wrapper took bloody ages to get off, but it went down a treat and whether was a placebo or not, my last few miles I was off like a rocket.
I knew the final two miles were back through the houses and away from the seafront so I decided to ramp it up a gear, another gear, maaaybe a little bit more, go, go go! I felt like I was sprinting for those last two miles - but importantly, not dying. It hurt and I was desperate to stop and have a nice sit down, but it felt achievable and that felt amazing. I cocked up the finish by going the wrong way (and taking a bloke with me, soz about that) but I righted myself, actually went the right way and finished in 2 hours 34. With an average pace of 7:41. And 4th frikkin lady!! Could not have wished for better.
So. What have I learned from this. I now know I can do more than one 20 miler in a marathon training block and still have legs at the end of it. SIS gels are my bae. Ultra Boost X shoes will forever by my long run shoe of choice. Caffeine Bullets are my new little pocket rockets. I definitely don't need music to race anymore. Being brave and a little bit rebellious can pay off. 4th lady can just be a regular girl like me.
This race was quiet (no crowd support apart from the odd generous soul, thank you) and very low numbers (I think less than 200) so if you are looking for a relaxed race as part of your marathon prep than I'd definitely recommend this. I loved it for that, but did feel I missed the drama/chaos/stress of a run like London which I probably should have tried to get a taste for. Oh well. Having said that, I would love to do this one again some day!