As a couple of hundred runners huddled into the Asics tent at the Run Alton Towers event, organised by Run Through, there was one thing repeatedly going through my head: ‘Why on earth am I doing this?’ 

Teeming with rain, just above freezing, I questioned my sanity a few minutes before running the 5K race. 

Moments earlier I had to try and stop my daughter, Lara, from turning a deeper shade of blue when buying an ‘emergency’ hoodie to keep her warm before leaving her with friends whilst I did the race. 

Lara told me: “I really like this; can you tell Mummy that she totally isn’t having it after me.” 

That’s a battle I’m staying out of. 

I trundled off to the Asics stand to shelter until we were called to the start line and there were jokes made about how perhaps they didn’t envisage how their keenness to showcase the new Novablast 4 might be interrupted by runners simply looking to stay dry (it does look like a nice new shoe to be fair...). 

With the St Neots Half Marathon coming up, I wanted to try and keep my legs relatively fresh so offered to pace one of my Wymondham AC club-mates, James Heaney. 

With his personal best of just under 23 minutes I was quietly confident that we would be able to dip under that. However, I hadn’t quite bargained on how hilly the route is. 

I made us late to the start line due to a last-minute dash to use the ‘facilities’ but I needn’t have worried as James bustled us forward (very politely, I must say) to about where we needed to be. 

It was still very busy as we set off and there was a fair bit of weaving in and out of people, which is never ideal if you’re after a fast time. 

MORE: Love running? Join the Run Anglia Facebook group here

I wanted to see if we could settle into a 4:30-minute kilometre pace; however after the first couple of kilometres it was clear there was never going to be any chance of that. 

It was very difficult to find any sort of rhythm due to the rolling hills. I adopted the tactic of trying to take advantage of the downhill sections whilst just managing the effort on the steep gradients, which really were considerable in places. 

I found myself on numerous occasions telling James: ‘We’ve just got to get up this hill and then we can relax’. The trouble was that some of the downhills were so steep that you had to put the brakes on a little to avoid hurtling into any barriers at the bottom. 

By the second kilometre James was still looking strong and fairly comfortable and we were sustaining a decent pace but the profile of the course was making it extremely difficult to get where we needed to be, pace wise. 

By the fourth kilometre as we started another hill, James had gone decidedly quiet and it was clear from the expression on his face that he was just starting to dip his toe into the pain cave. 

We all know that feeling when your mind wants to keep you safe and it’s telling you to ease off. However, with a bit of ‘gentle’ encouragement I tried to keep James honest with his effort and I was impressed that he kept pushing as hard as he could.  

It did rather feel like hill after hill although it was quite cool running around Alton Towers and I resisted the temptation to high-five a Teletubby... 

As we entered the final kilometre, we tried to up the pace and it was great to see James cruise into the finish, crossing the line in 23:55. It wasn’t a PB on the day but on a flatter course, there’s definitely one available to James in the near future. 

Watch this space.