A year on, I found myself this morning facing again the course that was my first ever 10k race. Last year I’d missed training thanks to an injury, I’d never run further than around 6k and I was very nervous. I managed to run up both hills, in fact the only walk breaks I took were to avoid throwing water all over myself or choking on it at the two water stations, but by halfway through I had the distinct feeling that I was all alone at the back. There was a point at 8k, just at the top of a steep hill, where I joked that although the country lane gained a pavement, I had to keep running on the road for a few yards until there was a dropped kerb because I didn’t have the energy to jump up. I finished last but one, and felt happy that I’d finished but a little worried about my time.
This year felt far better from the start. Despite major pre-race jitters – I was about ready to give up all idea of running – I managed to keep fairly positive as I waited for the start. In fact, I did read about pre-race jitters being caused by withdrawal symptoms from lack of exercise in the period just before a race, and that does make sense to me.
Nerves got the better of me at the start line, where we had a 10 minute delay announced and I decided that I did need another trip to the loo, but the jog over there and back got me going and reminded me how much I enjoy running. A chat with friends in the crowd reminded me that others feel nerves too and worry about their speed. Then Off!
I felt much more part of the pack this time, and was surprised at how many people I passed on the first uphill, as several were walking it. I maintained my place throughout, with very little change – in fact most of the changes of position were where I managed to overtake a runner in front. Not that I’m particularly speedy, but I have one comfortable pace and don’t like running slower to stay behind if I catch up to someone!
By the time I reached the downhill section just after the halfway mark, I could see the runner in front of me and a pack in ahead in the distance, and knew that there were quite a few still behind me – I think this was the point where I first felt completely on my own last year – and although I lost speed on the downhill because in the end it was just too steep to keep up a fast pace safely, it did mean I had enough breath to drink properly at the water station at the bottom.
Then it was a straightforward route back in, including the other hill – this time short and sharp rather than long and deadly – even overtaking another runner on the way up. Found that pavement appearing at the top, and deliberately skipped up it, proving to myself just how much fitter I am this year than last year. A final overtake within the last 400 metres, as the guy in front was slow and steady and I still felt comfortable enough to keep going faster, and then we turned the corner and down the final stretch to the finish line. There my garmin decided that I was just slightly short, so I had to keep it going and keep moving for it to tick over to the 10k mark, which meant I lost the time I’d marked on it. However, hubby reports the clock time as around 1:13:15, which sounds about right, and hopefully the chip time should be shorter than that. My PB is 1:12:35, on the Ashford run earlier this year, but that was in the middle of intensive training for the Jantastic challenge. My time on this course last year was 1:17:49, so I definitely beat that thoroughly.
So an anxious wait now for the official times to see if I did set a PB (unlikely but just possible), but generally I’m left with a real buzz, a feeling that all the training this year has really made a difference, and maybe I am gaining ground on fitness and not just slowing the loss of condition.
So, when’s the next 10k? And do I dare start thinking towards doubling again and heading towards a half marathon next year?