I’ve been a massive fan of Lancaster Three Bridges since I happened upon it in 2012.
I’ve only missed it once since then (we broke down on the motorway) but we’ve made it a real family outing over the years, even including one outing with my DH family.
It’s a pretty simple 10k as things go but the added technicality of steps at mile 3 tends to catch a few people out. Being a bit of a veteran at this course I now know where to push and where to take it easy so I’ve managed to bring my times down over the course in the past few years.
When I first attempted it in 2012 my finish time was 56:04
2013 was the infamous motorway breakdown
In 2014 my finish time was 49:10
2015 saw a finish of 47:43
I was back for more in 2016 finishing in a time of 46:55.
This year I attended on the back of a couple of tough marathons so I had no doubt that my legs may be a little fatigued (even more so after climbing the steps at half way). So when my wife asked me what time she should expect me back I genuinely didn’t know. We eventually plumped for anytime between 40 minutes and 50 minutes. She was going to head off to the nearby supermarket with the kids while I was out pounding the streets and climbing the steps.
My plan was to hit the first half pretty hard as that is mostly flat and downhill before hitting the steps at halfway. This would naturally affect my pace but I was hoping that within a quarter of a mile I could grab some of that time back as the course heads down a pretty long downhill straight section of road with the rest of the course being mostly flat with a slight incline in the last mile before finishing on the athletics track.
My last few training runs had leaned towards a pace of around 7 minute miles but it’s always different on the day when I’ve got my racing gear and my racing trainers on so you just never know.
We set off on the athletics track and I was surprised to find that I’d immediately settled into a 6:30 minute mile pace. “I can’t keep this up,” I thought to myself but I was going to see how long I could keep it up for. This pace put me towards the top end of the second group that left the athletics track onto the route and I ended up in a group of three. We managed to push each other through the first three miles as we traded places and ran shoulder to shoulder and my splits were 6:33, 6:49 and 6:53.
We hit the steps just after mile 3 and a couple of runners that were up there with me immediately dropped off the pace. I managed to hit the top of the steps side by side with another guy and we were off again. I hit the downhill section and started to push and managed to post a 7:08 from mile 3 to 4 which wasn’t bad taking into account the steps.
Mile 5 saw the time come down again as I managed to put in a 6:57 mile before I entered a footrace in the last mile with another guy.
There have been many races where I’ve had a footrace in the last mile and I’ve been the one that ended dropping off. This was mainly due to a mental block and an ingrained worry that my asthma would be an issue.
This has largely been overcome with my training and the fact that I know I can run at speed for long distances and my asthma isn’t affected.
So I wasn’t surprised that this time I managed to hold my own and took off in the last quarter mile. I hit the athletic track for the finish and put on a sprint to finish in 41:30 with a final mile split of 6:46 and finishing 27th overall.
Just as I crossed the line the family were heading back to the track. I’d finished seconds before they arrived which took all of us by surprise to be honest.
I stayed and cheered the couple of DH Runners in attendance and also some local lads who were running before taking the family to get some lunch.
It still amazes me how far I’ve come in a few years. This race itself just shows how much I’ve improved. From my first attempt in 2012 I’ve cut nearly 15 minutes off my time on a course that has largely remained unchanged.
I’ll be back in 2018 and I’ll be pushing for that sub 40.
But for the time being…I could have my cake and eat it.