Sunday, 13 October 2013

The 10K test.....

Although still having some recurrent pain due to my PF and inflamed heel fat pad, I have still been able to train, thanks to the aforementioned physio. A week after returning home (and back to work), I was keen to do a race to test my form and fitness.

Having agreed to run with a friend from Englandshire, I found a race midway between us. Things change and on Saturday morning I found myself on my own in the countryside near Preston, driving round some narrow, windy "undulating" roads of a 10k course trying to find registration. Luckily the rain that I had driven through on the way day was no longer in evidence, but it was still rather windy.

I had been feeling strong in recent runs and had hoped that, although I didn't think I'd get near my 10k PB (as it was set 2 years ago at the Abbey Dash- a very fast flat course with a huge field to pull you along), I might be able to break 36 minutes for the first time in over a year.......but having seen the course my heart sunk.

A narrow uphill start on a country lane
Running on quiet country lanes sounds idyllic, but in reality it can be a bit of a nightmare, as bridges cause bottle necks between runners and vehicles (despite a marshal asking them to stop, a man was not going to wait for me and some fellow competitors to pass before driving his trailer over a narrow humpbacked one) and you cannot see traffic until it is almost on you. We were all warned to hug tightly in to the left side of the road, which actually made sure that people did not cut corners, but some runners can become so focused on not letting anyone pass them that it can become dangerous, and still others ignore race directors and calmly plug earphones into both ears.

I knew from the route profile that the start was significantly lower than the finish, but as I made my way to the start, I seemed to be walking downhill for 5 minutes. The start was delayed slightly as a lady "needed" to drive her people carrier down the narrow lane just as the field was assembled and ready to go. Once everyone had scrambled back out of ditches, we had a short briefing re traffic and then were off.

Never one to start at the front...
Despite the uphill start, runners still set off at a fair old pace, including 2 ladies who had been standing at the front looking as if they meant business. I started a few rows back and eased my way up over the first half mile back into the village and past registration. I knew that although the whole route had looked rather twisty and undulating, the worst of the hills were in the first 3 miles so it was a case of settling in and then seeing how I felt for the second half of the race. Amanda (that I'd briefly spoken to before the start) settled in just behind me for the first couple of miles, which seemed a very sensible thing to do given the wind, so I figured that she must be quite an experienced runner. I tried to ignore this thought and just run my own race, and sure enough her breathing and footsteps dropped back.

It was a relief to see the 3 mile marker and still be feeling fairly fresh as it meant that I could put in a slight injection of pace to pass a Kendal runner who seemed to have been doing his best to destroy me so far......pushing me wide if I tried to pass him on the outside, cutting me up if I tried to go inside, elbowing me if we were alongside, and catching my feet if I did move ahead. Obviously, this may have all been subconscious, but I'm used to running alone and so was glad to get away from him and open up a little gap. The next few miles seem to pass by quickly, with me catching glimpses of those ahead depending on the nature of the road ahead. I made up a gap and moved into 4th place, expecting the guy to come with me, but he didn't latch on. By the time we got into the final mile, I was closing on the man in front (Steven) with every stride. 

Passing Steven at the 6mile mark

After drawing level with him and reassuring him that there was no man just behind, we spurred each other on for a few hundred metres before I moved ahead at the corner with the 6 mile sign on it. Knowing there was just a short way to go to the finish, I pushed again and surprised myself (and the others) with how strongly I finished, ending up just behind the second man and taking 10 seconds out of Steven.

Not knowing our exact times, I was just happy with a strong run on a not-so-quick course and so went for a cool down run and chat with Steven before tucking in to our "free brew and scone/bacon butty for all finishers"! He boosted my confidence still further by telling me that although he had run a half marathon the weekend before, he felt that he was in shape for a sub-35 10k given a faster course.

Results-time rounded off a perfect trip (well actually cake at Tebay services while icing my foot on the way home did that) as I discovered that I'd actually run a new PB of 35:15! Yeay!

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