Vrooooom! The Croft Pitstop 10k

I know a little something about regression and immaturity. I’m currently writing an MA dissertation related to societal infantilisation – the premature introduction to and extension of adolescence. But, that said, I enjoy pretending to be a racing car/driver as much as the next idiot. And when the opportunity was afforded to make run 10k around a real racing circuit, surely it would be a joy-filled 6.21371 miles with me making appropriate engine noises as I rounded the hairpin and bombed down the back straight to the approving roar of the grandstand. But, as any F1 veteran will no doubt tell you, one thing you can’t legislate for is the weather…

"Well, Ben, its like this - one thing you can't legislate for is the weather"

“Well, Ben, its like this – one thing you can’t legislate for is the weather”

The Croft Pitstop 10k took place at Croft Circuit on July 1st 2015 or THE HOTTEST DAY OF ALL TIME EVER as I refer to it. The searing heat was the second excuse I almost gave myself to miss this particular race, the first being the fact that my regular racing partner and bestest chum was otherwise engaged. But no. I was going. And, as I relented to their demands and filled the kids’ paddling pool late that afternoon, the usual ridiculous insecurities began to emerge:

1) “What if I’ve accidently entered an elite-only race??” Despite knowing it wasn’t…

2) “What if I’ve got the wrong date??” Despite checking 17 times…

3) “What if I can’t find it?” Despite it being a nationally renowned venue…

With the added race-specific mentalisms of:

4) “What if, in an attempt to find the car park, I accidently drive my car onto the circuit and plough straight into the wheelchair race??” Unlikely…

5) “What if I die of heat exhaustion” Erm…

Happily, at this point I noticed this sign on the kids’ 8-inch-deep paddling pool and was amusingly distracted:

Gah, and the chap at Argos assured me it was an Olympic standard diving pool

Gah, and the chap at Argos assured me it was an Olympic standard diving pool

So, I headed off. And after some mild flapping I successfully located the circuit and the car park without maiming anyone or causing a scene. I overcame too the mild trauma of my Vaseline having gone runny in the heat and undertook the pre-race ritual of slathering it in intimate places whilst trying to look nonchalant, despite being in the middle of a busy car park. I made note of the temperate. Even though the race was an evening one – itself a first for me – it was still fiercely hot. And you have to remember, this is the North East of England, where in some years the sun becomes an object of reminiscent legend rather than a reality.

As hot as Satan's sauna

As hot as Satan’s sauna

Then it was time to ‘scope the venue’. Or, perhaps more accurately, ‘have an aimless wander without looking like a friendless sociopath’. And wander I did. Yes, this definitely was a real racing circuit. It had tyre walls and everything. I touched one. It blackened my hand. I was sad and furious.

There. Its a racing circuit. Clearly I'm a shoe-in for 'Photographer of the Year'

There. Its a racing circuit. Clearly I’m a shoe-in for ‘Photographer of the Year’

By this time everyone was warming up, so I relented to peer pressure and went for a little jog. Given that I’m a leading contender for World’s Sweatiest Runner in the most favourable of conditions, this ‘little jog’ ensured I’d be starting the run looking like I’d just clambered out of the ocean. But the start was a few minutes away yet. In fact, I didn’t know where the start was. So I blundered over to where everyone else was mingling and focussed on trying to look normal. At this point, I suddenly worked out where I was – I was in the pit lane! Surely, any minute now David Coulthard or Eddie Jordan would stroll over and ask me if I’d opted for soft or super-soft tyres trainers and enquire about my gearbox (not a euphemism). Then I could try and spot which big Hollywood stars had been invited into the paddock by the teams. Benedict Cumberbatch? Michael Douglas? Barry Chuckle?

But there was no time for that, as we were being ushered towards the start line by Alan* who explained that there had been ‘complaints’ regarding the length of the course in the past, but if you stuck to ‘the racing line’ you’d be fine. With Alan throwing in the motorsport jargon I momentarily relapsed and pictured myself as a Ferrari as we were corralled onto the starting grid. However, I hauled myself back into the present and barely had any time at all to admire the frankly spectacular array of sunburn that adorned several of my fellow participants before 3-2-1 we were off!

I had in mind a time I wanted, which meant aiming for 7-minute miles. Much to my surprise/delight/disbelief, given the weather and a natural tendency towards self-deprecation, I was comfortably under this after two miles. By heck, it was warm though. Have I mentioned that? And by the third mile I was really feeling it. It had also become apparent that rather that making ‘racing car noises’ as I ran, I’d be more than happy just to keep hearing ‘breathing noises’. I made use of two water stations too – I’d usually not bother at all for a 10k – either side of a welcome second wind at about 4.5 miles. I knew my earlier sub-7-minute average was now going to be crucial as I began to struggle a little. Happily, the almost unheard of third wind occurred at precisely 5.34 miles (I only know the exact time as I was in the process of remonstrating with the Garmin/my chosen deity about why the end wasn’t closer than it was), which got me to the euphoric ‘the horror is almost over’ finishing stage. I’d like to say I sprinted for the finish line. I’d also like to say I own a yacht and live in a gingerbread house. But none of these things are true. I squelched over the line in 44:01 – less Emerson Fittipaldi, more Emerson, Lake and Palmer – with the Garmin confirming that I had clearly not stuck to ‘Alan’s racing line’ and had added an extra 150 metres to this particular 10k. In better news, the Garmin confirmed, if we remove Alan’s 150 metre surplus, that I’d bagged a 43:27 actual 10k, which is my best for some considerable time owing to being downed with a minor medical inconvenience in 2014.

With legs-a-wobblin’ it was time to consume ALL THE WATER and grab my ‘goody bag’. Which, in truth, as more just ‘a bag’ as the only ‘goody’ was a sachet of gel. Still, runners can’t be choosers and a bag always comes in handy. I could put it on my head and rob a post office. When I got my breath back.

Bag. Leaflets. Gel. Sodden number. How better to say 'I was there'?

Bag. Leaflets. Gel. Sodden number. How better to say ‘I was there’?

Then it was back to the car and a dashboard thermometer that confirmed it was still 25 degrees. But after a much needed change of shirt – Aquaman had nothing on me, as the pictures below prove – I welcomed the sweet, sweet feeling of the air conditioning. Overall, the race was a memorable one and the cost of entry had been extremely reasonable. However, the weather had really drained some of the enjoyment out of it. Stupid summer.

Before...

Before…

...After

…After

This week’s running:

With not one but two 10k races on the calendar this week, one of which took the place of the longer, marathon training run, I’ve banked a mere 23.8 miles. Two trips around the regular route, a Fantastic Fartlek 5k, the aforementioned sweaty fun at Croft and the subject of next week’s blog – the Harrogate Town Centre 10k. Where dreams of athletes everywhere are made/crushed.

* – All of the people in charge or organising the participants at a running event are called Alan. And if they’re not, they should be.

 

About Taylorson_B

Likes running, movies and being alive.
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3 Responses to Vrooooom! The Croft Pitstop 10k

  1. Pingback: Hurrah for the Harrogate Town Centre 10k! | Ben's Running Blog

  2. Pingback: Virtually Fabulous | Ben's Running Blog

  3. Pingback: Review of the Year – Part 2 | Ben's Running Blog

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