So, my first race of the year is done and I am currently sat on my bed, the day after an extremely hilly road 10km, nursing my calves and dealing with my annoyance at my result.
First off, I completely understand that my time 37:59.02 is fast, really fast, compared to the majority of amateur runners. I am happy with my time. I will say that again, I AM HAPPY WITH MY TIME. I am annoyed at myself, at my race naivety and at my inability to (yesterday anyway) judge pace correctly.
You start on the gravel road between the playing fields, circle the hill twice and come back down the gravel road to the finish. The first 1km is relatively easy; dash to the foot of the hill, a little jaunt up a steep incline, and then loop back round again. Km #2 (4:08/km) is a full 300m (!) up an extremely steep road called Football Lane; incidentally, the Team GB triathlete, who was the only person to beat me up the hill won the King Of The Hill trophy, then dropped back and finished in the low teens having killed himself up the hill.
The next three Kms are easy – flat, downhill, flat, downhill, flat, flat, flat. At Km six I was starting to struggle – legs felt like jelly, I’d been overtaken twice, and both men were starting to pull away from me. In my head I heard myself say “third is respectable, at least you’ll get a medal”, but alas, it was not meant to be. After Km six (4:20/km) up Peterborough Road (long slow hill, top left corner of photo above) my legs went into shock and shut down for the last three Kms. I got overtaken again and didn’t have enough in the tank to regain a place, or even to force a sprint finish.
Now, why am I annoyed? Because it was my fault, I didn’t pace it properly. When I got to the top of Football Lane and looked back, we were all alone. Jas (King Of The Hill winner) and I were the front runners. As the steep incline turned into flat, he signalled to me that he was planning on dropping back down the field and had no intention of challenging for the win. It was my fault for being suckered into his pace, for not running my own race, for thinking I was fitter than I am, for not running more hills in preparation. Aarrrgh!!
Right, positives – My shins felt rough beforehand but didn’t hurt once during the race (adrenaline?), my haircut got some great compliments (always important!), the team I was running with (Spear Harrow) all ran well and raised nearly £2,000 to help young people get into work, I got two vouchers for our local running shop in my goodie bag instead of just one, I set myself a great benchmark to shoot for in future 10km races, I got out in the cold and did something that set my lungs on fire and turned my legs to jelly, and, I got to wear a vest I haven’t worn for nearly 8 years – the white singlet with green and blue stripes is the colours of Harrow AC, the running club I used to represent as a Junior. I borrowed it for the race and was proud to hear “Go on Harrow!” shouted by onlookers as I rounded the last corner, put my head down and used every ounce of energy left to push myself over the line.
Medal, shoddy. Goodie bag, a bit lacking. Pacing, terrible. Outfit/style, awesome. Feel, amazing. Race tactics, lacking. Inspiration for next time? Definitely.
Photos from the day…