The race is run, the results are in. The months of training, improvement, learning, bodily abuse (forcing myself to eat healthily and cut down on alcohol are bodily abuse, right?) are at an end. The goal was to beat a personal best time for an organised 10km race I run every year, a pb that has stood since the first time I ran it twelve years ago. And today was the day of the race.
So what happened? Did I manage it? Well, yes, yes I did. And not only by a second or two, I managed to chop off a full minute and fifteen seconds! My finish time was a shade under 45:30, far beyond my expectations at the outset. The ghost of twelve years is no more, here’s to the future ghost of 2022!
Obviously I was pleased with my performance, and lucky that everything came right on the day. Indulge me as I take us through some of the highlights.
The journey there was uneventful, parking no problem, registration took seconds. The weather was perfect: cool but sunny, breezy but not windy. No immediate concerns from the off.
All my thinking leading up to this had been around ensuring my pacing was correct. A few weeks ago I ran a 10km race but I went off too quickly and suffered in the second half, so didn’t want to repeat that. I’d already worked out my target splits based on last years race – it’s a hilly course so some kilometres are naturally slower than others.
Before I headed out to the start, I sat in my car and jotted the target times on the back of my hand. This is something I hadn’t practised in my training, how hard could it be? Very hard, apparently. My pen was a bit rubbish and it ended up taking me ages. Next time, get a decent pen and maybe write the times on my hand before leaving the house!
At the start of the race I lined up somewhere between the 40 and 50 minute markers; these were a bit close together for my liking and I felt a bit contained with the other runners. When we set off I ran within the pack but found some space for my stride, it wasn’t long before we naturally stretched out and I had a good amount of personal space for the majority of the race. I managed to keep the right pace I’d planned and as the pack thinned I could focus on the times I wanted to run. The third km was a slower target pace, and I felt good dropping down and letting people overtake me, maybe I’d get them at the end!
Through all ten kilometres I kept to my pacing strategy, feeling relaxed and comfortable as I went. Sticking to a target pace isn’t that straightforward and I came in a few seconds under target each kilometre. By the time I came to the 8km marker I knew I was well under my target time, I just needed to keep the consistency to the end. The ninth kilometre was hilly, but I dug deep and hit that target too, and as I came through the final half kilometre the course levelled and dropped down the other side, leading to a fast finish in front of a reasonable sized and kindly vocal crowd.
It was exhausting but felt extremely good. Once I caught my breath I saw and spoke to a few of the runners I’d been running alongside throughout the race. One of them told me he was running twenty miles today, the 10k run we’d just completed was just a short part of that. And he beat me. I decided not to talk to him any more!
This was a massive personal achievement that has been in the making since I finished the same race twelve months ago. I knew it was possible with the right levels of training, and have come out with (let’s face it) a new target to beat next year. And how do I feel about that?
Bring it on!