I ran the Finchley 20 on Sunday 8th March 2015, this now seems like a really long time ago! If i’m totally honest I was absolutely dreading the “race”. My last 20 miler (Bramley) hadn’t been pleasant and I was dreading Finchley even more because
a) it was hilly/undulating;
b) there were four laps; and
c) headphones were banned!
There was one thing I was looking forward to though- running in the sunshine. I may have already mentioned (probably more than once) that I love to run in the sunshine and we had a glorious glorious Saturday on the 7th that I had high hopes for the Sunday! I was so optimistic that I contemplated just wearing my running club vest and cycling shorts… well thankfully I only contemplated that! Although I do not currently have a knee injury old habits are hard to break and I like to run in knee supports (just in case!) I have learned via the horror of observing myself in race photos that shorts and exposed knee supports look terrible so I refuse to do that to myself. It was a choice of cycling shorts and no knee supports or leggings with knee supports. I chose leggings and it was the right decision as it was actually a pretty cold day!
First things first, there didn’t seem to be a vast number of portaloos but combined with the toilets inside the club changing rooms there were more than adequate facilities. I was very impressed actually. Race number pick up was also entirely smooth!
Things did not get off to a great start! Walking up to the start line my Garmin refused to turn itself on!! I couldn’t believe it and then after about 0.5 miles when it did turn itself on it was registering me running at 53 m/m pace, when I knew I was running at 7 something m/m pace grrrrr! It totally threw me off. It sorted itself out after about a mile but the frustration had already set in by that time. In terms of my performance, I did not have a good day, I started at around 7/8 m/m pace but after about 1.5 miles I couldn’t keep this up at all. My hip was hurting far too much, it really shocked me. If i’m honest I wanted to quit the race 3 miles in but my coach was there and encouraged me to keep going.
In terms of the course, I really liked it!! I found myself liking the variety of the undulations but unfortunately I realised downhill running which I usually love was particularly painful for my hip. However, I didn’t find it that bad hill wise. There was one unpleasant part of the course where you are running for about a mile on the side of a narrow (national speed limit i think) road and there is no pavement. This alone justified the prohibition on wearing headphones. I speeded up during this bit as I didn’t feel particularly safe and I didn’t want to get knocked down. I really liked the variety of the 5 mile loop, some uphill, some downhill, through a park, in the town centre of Ruislip and also what felt like running through the countryside. I also liked the 4 laps (to my utter surprise) it really kept me going to break it down into 5 mile chunks. I think its a lot harder to run two laps of a really hard 10 mile loop aka Bramley.
My run couldn’t have been worse in terms of pacing, I steadily slowed down every mile as my hip got progressively more painful and I finished in 3:10:59 so about 10 minutes slower than the Bramley 20. I know why though, so its OK.
In terms of drinks, only water was provided in cups. I think it would have been much better if water bottles had been provided and it was disappointing that there were no sports drinks provided (I ran with my own). They did however provide jelly babies and I grabbed a handful whenever I went past one particular water station that was giving them out.
The marshalls were mixed! Some were incredible (the lady cheering on the steep downhill particularly stands out) but others were lack lustre – they seemed more interested in chatting with their friends than giving any encouragement to the runners!
The medal was OK, I felt very pleased to get one after Bramley 🙂 we were also given a technical t-shirt. When you consider the entry price £23 if affiliated I thought this was pretty good. One major gripe about the T-shirt though is they only ordered them in male/unisex sizes so if you are a size 8 lady the t-shirt totally drowns you- it looks like a bit of a joke to be honest!
Would I do it again? Yes, definitely. It will probably become a regular fixture in my race diary if I am doing a spring marathon. All in all I would give it 8/10.