Last year, I ran a fun little 10k race with some colleagues that I blogged about. In a surprise turn of events, I ran it again this year! I hadn’t been a very regular runner since the end of March: first I got sick. Then we went on holiday, where lots of waling but no running got done. Then I was really busy at work. I managed to get in a few short distance runs, but come last week I hadn’t clocked more than 5k in quite a while, and so my first reaction when a colleague asked if anyone wanted to join the race last minute was “naaaw”. But then on Thursday, I went for a 7k lunchtime run and thought “hell, if I can do 7k without dying today, I can do 10 on Sunday!”. Since the race was exactly the same course as last year, I thought it would be a fun comparison. And it was!
Last year it was hot and dry. This year we had a forecast of less heat but possible thunderstorms, but the weather decided otherwise and just as we set off, the sun came out. It was quite humid, and I quickly broke a sweat. I’m really not sure whether I preferred last year’s heat or this year’s humidity. I regretted not taking my sunglasses along though!
Last year, my goal had been to do it in under 60 minutes and I managed, and I wrote in my race report that my goal for this year was to do it in under 55. Given my recent training history though, on race day I settled for “I’ll be happy if I can do it as fast as last year”. Checking my watch early into the race, I was doing 5:35 mins/km, which was not super fast, but on track. The “hill” I’d struggled on last year was much easier this year, so I was happy! Generally, the going was good and I was feeling fine.
Feeling fine wasn’t a given as my period had staged an entrance that morning and I had some cramps. Could it have picked a worse day?! (It turns out that yes, it could have – had the race been the following day it would not have been good. At all.) A little bit into the race, the cramps dissipated and I didn’t hear from them again until kilometre 8, when they made a strong comeback.
Speed-wise, I didn’t check again until just before the halfway point because I started getting the feeling that I was perhaps going a bit fast. At that point, I was doing 5:13 mins/km! So I gave myself a stern talking-to – I didn’t think I could sustain this and needed to pace myself. I found myself a personal “pace bunny”: a guy in a bright red shirt who was running right in front of me and seemed to be going at a reasonable pace. This race is a combined 10k and half marathon, with the half marathon route splitting off from the 10k at about 8.5k. From the colour of his bib, I could tell he was doing the half, and figured that if I could stay with him until the turn-off I was set for a decent time.
My strategy worked out beautifully! So beautifully in fact that my last 1.5k, once I’d lost my “bunny”, were tough. I couldn’t find another person to anchor myself to, so for the home stretch, it was just me, my cramps, and determination.
And I did it! I broke my personal best, and surpassed last year’s time by over two minutes – I did 54:05. In the end I met and even surpassed the goal I’d set myself last year! I’ll be honest, when I initially told myself the same time as last year would be fine, I was trying to not set myself up for failure. In the back of my mind, the “under 55 minutes” goal was still niggling, and once I got to the halfway point and realised how well I was doing for time I started thinking it just might be possible.
I’m really happy to see the improvements vis-à-vis last year’s race. Last year I was fairly well-trained, and still I struggled more than this year. Had I been in training this year, I could maybe have run even faster this year, or at least it would have been easier to run the pace I did. Continuity and perseverance, along with hill training, have paid off. I’m signed up for another 10k in July and am starting to plan for a half marathon in the autumn, so Sunday’s race gave me a big confidence boost (although I did wonder in the end how anyone manages to run twice the distance I did, and in much less time!). I’m really excited about my new goals now.
I also mentioned this last year, but I just have to say again how much I love this race. It’s local, small, and the volunteers from the organising club are super friendly. All the logistics are incredibly well organised. It’s family friendly too: one of my colleagues, who also did the 10k, brought her husband, who did the half marathon, and their kids. They could just drop them off at childcare, which they said was really well thought-out with fun activities – in fact, their kids didn’t want to leave at the end! Two other colleagues didn’t run themselves, but brought their children to participate in the kiddies’ fun run. And afterwards, we all went to the lake to picnic. Yay for spontaneous races!