Running Bassingham Bash 5 Miler was not originally on my plan for the year (I think all 2020 plans have been well and truly ripped up now though!) but with the event given the green light in terms of Covid-19 restrictions, a friend from my Run Club tempted me to sign up. I have completed the race a few times before, but not for a couple of years, and its uniqueness stems from both the 5 mile distance and the Saturday afternoon 2pm start time.
Unsurprisingly given all that is going on in the world, this year’s event was slightly different, with the race capped at only 100 or so entries in order to meet Covid guidelines. Finish time restrictions were announced in order to thin the field, and originally females were required to run sub 29 mins in order to be eligible for a place. Too quick for me! However, they later upped this to sub 41 minutes, which was more within my reach!
The finish time cap meant for a very fast field of runners taking to the streets of a small Lincolnshire village, and perhaps in the past I would have felt intimated by this. There were certainly a lot of ‘serious looking’ men and women gathering around the start area. Most were going through warm up routines in tracksuits, before stripping down to tiny club vests and shorts. I was given number 92, which meant I was one of the slowest runners in the race. However, as I stood on a cold Saturday afternoon, with a chilly 20mph wind whipping across Bassingham cricket pitch, I felt relaxed about racing. I was not here to challenge for a place or battle it out at the front, I was just running for me. I also recognised a lot of runners from the local Lincoln running scene, and as well as them being some very fast runners, they are also really friendly.
There was a jovial atmosphere as we were led to our starting socially distant waves. I was in the final wave at the back, which along with those around me, we took light-heartedly. We were essentially racing the sweeper car behind us! My placing at the back also indicated just how fast the 90 odd men and women ahead of me were attempting to run. I had predicted a finish time of 35 mins, simply based on the pace I ran my 10k race a few weeks ago. I hoped I may be able to go a little bit quicker given the race was a mile less, but with the very strong wind who really knew!
The 5 mile course features a small loop around Bassingham village before completing a large loop out into the countryside, finishing back on Bassingham cricket pitch. The route would be fairly exposed in places, so I knew the wind would require some battling. With the socially distanced start, it also meant there would be no one to ‘tuck in behind’ and it would very much be a solo fight.
Once my time came to cross the starting mat I aimed to set off quickly; my legs were a little tight from a track session on Thursday, so I wanted to wake them up and run off any stiffness in the opening mile. It seemed to work, and my first two miles were well under 7 min/mile pace.
The wind was reasonably sheltered to begin with but came into more force as the third mile hit. I felt strong though, and although I was very much running alone, I kept runners in my sight in the distance and tried not to let them get away from me. This required more mental effort than physical if I am honest, as there was no support on course, and it was simply down to me to keep driving the pace.
The fourth mile has the most wind, and my splits dipped here. I still felt strong though and knew I just had to dig in and wait until the course turned and changed direction. When it did, with about a mile left and the familiar sight of Bassingham village now around me, I tried to find a final kick in my legs. This felt harder with no one around to try and hold off or who I could realistically try and pick off ahead, and again it was down to me to find that determination to pick up the pace.
The finishing stages of the course pass the start line again and then head onto a short section of grass, finishing directly underneath a football goalpost! Grass can be a killer in the final sprint of a race, but I felt good as I hit the green surface and drove to the finish. I was slightly breathless when I stopped, it felt like I had been winded almost, but I was pleased with my time; 34:25.
My 5 mile PB is 34:17, so I was not far away, and that was set on a perfectly still day when I had also actually been training. I am still running ‘just for fun’ at the moment and the fact I can log times like this using my base fitness makes me happy. My two friends from Run Club had also ran well (perhaps our less structured Covid training has actually given us all the refresh our bodies needed?) and we made sure to wait until the end to clap the final runners over the line, who had all escaped the threat of being swept up!
Bassingham Bash was a great Saturday afternoon speed test, and a reminder again of what racing feels like. The race also fell the day before my birthday so additionally acted as a bit of a pre-birthday bash! I did not think I would be racing as much as this toward the end of 2020, and who knows how long it will last, so I am thankful for each opportunity I get at the moment and to be able to create some happier memories from the year.
Its been nearly a month since I last blogged (other then a review of the Normanby 10k), and as seems to be the case for this year, the past few weeks have all seemed to blur into one as we try and move on with life in a socially distanced world, yet with the fear of ‘lockdown’ hanging over our lives. I cannot complain though, I am happy, and when I think back to how life was a few months back, spending long days on my own predominantly confined to my house – life is amazing! You have to hold on to the positives.
Since last writing I have learnt my London Marathon fate, and under their rules my 2020 Good For Age place is now only eligible for 2023, and will no longer be classed as Good For Age. I cannot change this, but I will forever feel slightly sad that Covid robbed me of my qualifier place and the – I will say it – greed of the London Marathon robbed me of a second chance to run as a qualifier. However, everyone has had to make sacrifices this year, and everyone will have something they feel disappointed to have lost; some people will think ‘it’s only a race’ but for me this was my ‘five star luxury holiday’ or ‘dream wedding’ and something I had been wanting for so long. However, I move on.
Running wise I am currently enjoying running whatever I like. It feels good and I have no targets or goals. I am mixing up my running; running easy when I want, adding in some longer runs, still motivated to throw in some harder efforts be that intervals or hills, and am also loving leading my Run Club sessions each week. My weekly mileage is still reasonably high (this week I have ran 37 miles for example), but it does not feel draining, and I feel I am building a good base fitness.
Highlights of the past month of running have been a return to track nights with Run Club (absolutely brutal but wonderful at the same time) an 18 mile trail run with my sister and her boyfriend (I may have told them it was 13…! ), logging a #RunInRed Lincoln Half Marathon with friends to mark what would have been the first Lincoln City Half Marathon event (roll on 2021, it will be worth the wait!), as well as of course a return to racing at Normanby 10k.
I feel like my plan for the rest of the year (if you can confidently plan anything these days!) will be to continue in the same vein. I find myself for the first time in years without a big race in the calendar, and I want to use this version of ‘Alice Downtime’ to truly enjoy running, as well as appreciate all those other parts of life which Covid took from us for so many months.
Alice's Adventures In Running Land
Read about my adventures in running land...