Ashby 20 is one of my favourite running races and was always going to be one of my 16 challenges for the Alzheimer’s Society. It is an undulating, 2 lap, rural course around the Leicestershire countryside.
The build up to the weekend had been less than perfect! I had a really busy week at work and a nagging pain in my right ankle that by Saturday had me hobbling into boots to buy an ankle support and some painkillers. I rested up on Saturday and changed my plans from going for a personal best time to seeing how my ankle held up for the first couple of miles and then taking it from there. Whatever happened I was definitely starting and finishing challenge 3.
So Sunday morning arrived and the pain had gone from my ankle to leave an aching sensation. So I had my normal (pre race) breakfast of porridge and coffee and headed down the motorway to Ashby. I got changed, said hello to a few friends and club mates that were also running and it was off to the start.
The start of Ashby is quite strange because you line up in a field before being escorted the 400 metres to the line. It works like clockwork ever year though and before long it was 10.00 and off went the hooter.
Now if you have ever done sport with an injury, you will know what the first couple of miles were like for me. First 100 metres, it feels stiff but no pain. At 200 metres, I am thinking this is feeling ok – let’s increase the pace a bit. At 400 metres, I have negative thoughts, after the pain yesterday it is going to hurt in a minute. At 800 metres still no pain so thought right lets just go for it; what is the worse that can happen!
I had my Garmin set for PB pace and decided to try and stay below this and see what happened. The first mile or so is down hill and then there is a steady climb, before undulating for another 9 miles. My legs were feeling good and strong for the first 10 miles; averaging around 8.10 per mile, (10 seconds per mile ahead of PB pace.) All was going better than expected at this stage; I had no issues with my leg and was feeling pretty strong.
It was a tail of two laps this one and the second half didn’t go as the first. At 13 miles I had to stop to go to the toilet which lost me 30 seconds or so.
I pushed on but the sun had started to shine and I do tend to get warm in races, so my pace started to slow a little below target pace, but at this stage still thought I might sneak a PB time. Then for some reason at 16 miles I completely forgot to take my gel and ignored the water station, which I would regret by the time I realised what I had done.
I was still losing time against a PB at this point but at a rate that still made it possible. When I got to 18 miles I realised I hadn’t had my gel and I think it knocked me psychologically as my pace slowed and I lost over a minute in time, which put me behind a PB for the first time in the race.
The problem with Ashby is most of the last mile and a half is up hill. I knew that a PB was gone at this stage as I wasn’t willing to risk injury or overdoing it with the Manchester Marathon just three weeks away. So I ran slowly up the hill, while getting an amazing song from one of the stewards to motivate me. We then turned at 400 metres to go onto a short downhill before a flat path into the park.
I always like a sprint finish in a race and with 200 metres to go another guy running for the Alzheimer’s Society passed me and with 100 metres to go I sprinted past him, arms raised in the air for the photographers and across the finish line.
I finished in a time of 2 hours 49 minutes 49 seconds, (1 minute 41 seconds slower than last year.) Could I have run a PB? Maybe I could, but to be honest I am happy with the time I ran, considering 24 hours earlier I was limping down Chesterfield market place pondering if I would even start.
Once again this was an amazingly well organised event. I grabbed my hoody, scoffed the famous cheese sandwich and headed home to celebrate completing challenge 3.
Ashby 20 gives me a good indication of where my fitness is for the Manchester Marathon, (challenge 4 of Sixteen in 16) and all seems on track to have a go at running my second sub 4 hour marathon.
Was also great to spot a number of Alzheimer’s Society vests on the course. I look forward to seeing more at Manchester.
Race Lap Splits from my Garmin
1) 1m – 8:04(8:02/m) 145cal 7.46/8.7mph
2) 1.01m – 8:08(8:04/m) 147cal 7.43/8.32mph
3) 1m – 8:14(8:14/m) 145cal 7.29/9.07mph
4) 1.02m – 8:05(7:54/m) 149cal 7.59/8.91mph
5) 1m – 8:25(8:24/m) 146cal 7.14/8.31mph
6) 1.02m – 8:30(8:20/m) 148cal 7.2/8.33mph
7) 1m – 8:15(8:15/m) 146cal 7.28/8.03mph
8) 1.03m – 8:22(8:09/m) 149cal 7.36/8.02mph
9) 1m – 7:53(7:55/m) 145cal 7.58/8.77mph
10) 1.05m – 8:41(8:17/m) 153cal 7.25/7.77mph
11) 1.02m – 8:28(8:18/m) 149cal 7.23/8.53mph
12) 1m – 7:50(7:49/m) 147cal 7.67/8.82mph
13) 1.02m – 8:56(8:45/m) 147cal 6.86/8.73mph
14) 0.98m – 8:57(9:08/m) 144cal 6.57/7.98mph
15) 0.98m – 8:15(8:28/m) 142cal 7.09/7.98mph
16) 1m – 8:29(8:27/m) 145cal 7.1/8.68mph
17) 1.03m – 8:36(8:20/m) 150cal 7.19/9.21mph
18) 1m – 8:55(8:53/m) 147cal 6.75/8.19mph
19) 0.98m – 9:33(9:46/m) 144cal 6.14/7.56mph
20) 1.01m – 9:16(9:12/m) 144cal 6.52/12.74mph