On Sunday, I ran what turned out to be my goal race for this quarter – the Fleet HM. My actual goal race was the Annecy HM last week but temperatures soaring into the 20s/late 70s made actually racing that beautiful beast impossible. So I signed up for a HM in the cold, damp UK the following weekend – and Fleet was it. My goal for this race was simply to race it hard and see what I could do. I hoped I could do between 1.55 and 1.57. I actually secretly wanted between 1.53 and 1.54. In the end, I hit 1.56 but was hugely disappointed with that time – so clearly I’d been deceiving myself about what I really wanted. But there we are. I'd slept really badly the night before so turned up at the start really quite exhausted - which didn't bode well. But Fleet HM impressed me from the start – they posted me my number last week, along with a tag for my drop-bag. I found parking easily in town. The event was much bigger than I’d expected. The course itself is very pleasant. It winds through some houses at first, then does a loop before heading for a second time through the town centre and out onto the surrounding roads. The crowd support was fantastic right from the start. Locals stood outside with jelly-babies and water – one little boy shouted a triumphant ‘yes’ every time someone took his jelly-babies. I was really blown away by the number of people stood outside on a cold morning cheering for us. My own race started off decently. I felt like I was running solidly and at a good pace. The race is gently undulating – there are definite ‘hills’ but nothing hard at all and always followed by a steady downhill. For the first nine miles, things were solid. Looking at my splits later, I averaged 8.41 which was all I wanted. I didn’t notice when the wheels started to come off but according to my watch it was very clearly M10 when my average pace shot up to 9.26. My run became a zombie-march as I slogged back. I just stuck my head down, smiled at the crowds as they encouraged me and crossed the line, grateful to be done. I was pretty disappointed by my time, and sat there for a while before changing out of my cold damp clothes, getting coffee and driving home. Notes on the race This was an excellent race! The organisation was impeccable. Plenty of aid stations (water), a jelly baby station at M10, loads of encouraging marshalls, great crowd support, a buzzing staging area. The medal was one of the nicest I’ve ever had and I had the choice to save money and opt out of the t-shirt, which I appreciated. The course was pretty and honest – with about 450ft elevation gain it’s not flat but it was very PR-able if you were properly trained. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this race.