I've had a similar experience - this time last year I ran PBs at the Salisbury 10 and Fleet half marathon and a decent time at a 10k in May and 5 miler in June. Then it got hot, and I got slower and slower. I'd put it down to the heat but I didn't improve once it cooled down and although I have glimmers of doing decent times, I'm nowhere near where I was. I'm doing the Salisbury 10 again tomorrow and it will be a good test of where I am but I suspect it's going to be 2-3 minutes slower at least.
I'd also love some help on how to get faster again. I've not been injured, I'm not anaemic and I get plenty of sleep. Family and work life aren't any more stressful than they were. The only thing that I can think of is that I am simply not as fit, not because of running (probably do a little more than I did a year ago), but because I work from home most of the time. I used to work in London and walked to the station etc, and had a year working in a library where I was on my feet and carrying books around etc, but now I sit on my bottom when I am not running. I probably do a bit more running now than I did, but not enough to make up for the lack of walking/carrying books around.
The photos and the elevation on the website make it look a lot worse that it is. I wrote an article for our club newsletter last year so I'll just copy and paste as it was fairly contemporaneous and therefore while my memory was still fresh. I'm not as fit now as I was this time last year, but I'm sure I would have noticed hills.
This is a really good race and I definitely recommend it. My view is probably coloured by the
fact that (a) it was my birthday and (b) I got a PB. I had signed up to run the Wokingham and
Fleet half marathons but after a 10 mile slog along the canal in late January I had a crisis of
confidence about my ability to run anything further than about 7 miles and gave my Wokingham
place up. I decided to do the Fleet half after all and so wanted to do another 10 miler before
Fleet. I had thought about doing the Surrey Tempest on 3 March but that clashed with the final
TRWL cross-country of the season. As I have cousins in Salisbury I decided to do the 10 mile
run there and meet them for lunch afterwards.
All the reviews on Runners’ World were positive but warned of “playful” hills. The elevation on
the City of Salisbury athletics club website shows quite a few hills, so I wasn’t planning on
getting a PB, I just thought I’d go out at a steady pace that I could sustain for 10 miles. It was
very cold and I was happy to hang around in the leisure centre where you had to collect your
chip (and glory be it was one that wraps around your ankle, no trying to thread it through laces
complicated stuff AND all races should start at leisure centres – ample loos and coffee facilities –
and WARM). The race started next to the leisure centre and finished on the South Wiltshire
Girls’ Grammar School athletics track which is more or less next to the start. It meant that when
we braved the cold we could run up and down and round the athletics track to warm up.
The race started right on time through a fairly squashed start so other than the leading pack,
everyone started gently. I gradually speeded up as people spread out and the start was
downhill so I started off quite a lot faster than I had planned to. The course winds its way up
and down the Woodford valley and is quite scenic. I missed the camels and llamas that other
people mentioned, but I did see swans in a field. You do need to be careful about traffic as the
roads are not closed and some drivers get a bit annoyed about having to share the roads for 10
minutes once a year.
I waited for the hills. Which didn’t come. Around the 5 mile mark I was on course for a great
time and thought that we’d been lulled into a false sense of security. A lady from Victory AC
confirmed that there was at least one nasty hill around the 8 mile mark but said “the wind will
slow us down today, not the hills”. Which made me think that the hills couldn’t be that bad
really – as the wind wasn’t either. An unattached (or not wearing a club shirt) male runner
thought “ a nasty little hill is coming up”. I went round the corner and there was nothing, but
then a minute or two later, there it was. But it wasn’t that bad – a bit steep and a bit nasty but
not very long and there was a fairly steep downhill afterwards so it was possible to make up the
time lost. The promised hill just before 8 miles also materialized but from the top of it it was flat
as a pancake into the finish, which meant running around about 2/3 of the athletics track over
the finish line. I finished in 1 hour 17 minutes and 43 seconds – almost
Gosport in November and Wokingham (just motorway bridges) in Feb. Fleet in March has a few undulations but lots of gradual downhill as well to make up for it. Apparently Lydd, Headcorn and Paddock Wood are also flat but I've not done any of them.
But a friend of mine has done the very hilly Basingstoke (think an elongated M shape in the middle!) and her times for Basingstoke and Gosport differed only by a few seconds.
Those of you who think that the race should not have been cancelled please read this article from the BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-26111598 (Hurst is one of the areas the race goes through) and I quote:
"Another resident Paul Palmer, who lives in the village of Hurst told BBC Radio Berkshire: "I've lived here for 44 years and I've never known anything like it. Every entrance, every exit to Hurst is flooded now. We've had no use of our toilets since Friday morning, our sewers are completely blocked and it's starting to back up into the toilet. The council won't offer an emergency toilet unless you're a council tenant. It's like going back to the dark ages. You'd think they could get at least one chemical toilet cubicle at the local village hall or something."