Coventry 10K Charity Fun Run 2014

Following the Leicester Marathon I had barely run for three weeks. With the exception of setting a new PB of 20:29 for running 5K most of my runs had seemed like hard work, from both the point of view of motivating myself, and the effort required. I think my loss of motivation was a combination of having just done the marathon, the sudden change in temperature outside, and the changing of the clocks meaning long runs would be entirely in the dark.

For the Coventry 10K the race packs weren’t posted out prior to the race like most of my other runs had (the exception being the Atherstone 10K), so this was one where I’d need to collect it on the day. Due to this I thought I’d make sure I got there reasonably early as there were no indications as to how big the race would be and didn’t want to queue out in the cold too long. As it happens I got there earlier than intended even with taking a few wrong turns, despite using satnav (I always manage to do that in Coventry somehow). Once I got to the park it took a few minutes to figure out where to go as there were no signs up for visitors or sign of a start or registration desk. Someone else in the Park & Ride car park asked me if I knew where there start was as they had no idea either. I decided I’d go for a walk and soon found the registration desk not far from the building in the middle of the park.

The registration was very quick, there was only one person waiting in front of me and after telling them my name I was handed my race number. At this point they said the start would be where the registration was and that the visitor centre could be used as a changing room and toilets – this was the same as what it said on the MCC Productions website, though the receptionist in the visitor centre was not happy about this and was asking people to leave instead of hanging around inside as it turned out it in fact couldn’t be used by the runners.

War Memorial Park, Coventry

To try and stay warm, despite wearing a base-layer and a technical tee, I decided I should keep moving and started walking a few laps of the park. Whilst walking I also commented on Twitter that it was odd not to have a chip to track our time, but apparently that is normal for this race as they write down times against bib number as you cross the line – lots of room for error there! I guess the key point here is “fun run” not “race”.

At 09:55 everyone was ready to start but no one really knew quite where the start was or what was going on. At 10:00 we were then led about 1Km around the park, passed the War Memorial, to the opposite corner of the park where we were told that the race would be starting in a few minutes. The marshall then went through three points to be aware of, and then without any countdown, started the race. This left a few people surprised and unprepared!

The course then goes around the perimeter of the park until it reaches Kenilworth Road, and then halfway along that edge cuts through the middle, past the visitor centre and around the edge of the carpark and continued around the perimeter. One lap of this was 3K so the way this was arranged was you’d do 3 laps and then an extra 1K at the start. I tried to keep my pace consistent, and my legs were happy for me to, though I think mentally it was a bit of a battle at times to keep going. Not long into the second lap my head kept telling me I should stop. I tried to convince myself that having done a marathon, the goal I’d originally set out to do, it was okay to stop now – I could go back to my car and go home without finishing.

Perhaps if I hadn’t have thought something so stupid I wouldn’t have convinced myself to finish the race. I thought it was bordering on narcissism and felt ashamed of that. I knew at that point I shouldn’t listen to my head, and should listen to my legs instead. Having achieved one goal doesn’t mean it’s the end, there’s other goals to set. I want to enjoy running and would love to be better at it, and this started to turn things around. This then meant the third lap was a lot happier – the pace I was going at was quite comfortable, and at this point I started wondering if it would be a good idea to try the Donington Park Half Marathon the following weekend.

Halfway around the last lap I started to pick up pace, but then had to slow down briefly after almost tripping over a dog! Thankfully I missed the dog! As I started to approach the 6 mile point I sped up more and then changed this to a sprint once I reached the visitor centre. The finish line was then a bit of a mess – there were a lot of pedestrians with young children blocking the “funnel” which meant I had to start weaving all over the place so that I wouldn’t have to stop. I then finished in time to see the trophy be presented to the first female finisher.

Finisher’s tee and medal

At the finish line you join a queue to get your finisher’s tee and medal, though the person handing them out sadly dropped mine on the floor – so this white tee was muddy before I’d even worn it. At this point I felt I could have sustained the higher pace for longer as my legs were feeling okay, though amazingly I found after looking at my watch that I’d set a new PB of 44:15, though it was saying the distance was 6.19 miles, so couldn’t technically count as a personal best for 10K.

Finisher’s medal

I heard a number of people complaining to their friends about the mess up at the start and the lack of organisation, but the main thing here is that this run was in support of the South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust. Sure, organisation could be better, but raising money for a worthy cause was the purpose for this day.

After 72 hours the results were published, though I don’t quite understand how my time is a minute slower in the results when I started my watch with the horn and stopped it a few seconds after crossing the finish line. The official time was 45:06, 9:54 behind the race winner.This time puts me in position 36 out of 163 male finishers (top 22%).

For some reason they split the list between males and females, so the 161 female finishers are in another list. If you combine the lists so it’s comparable to other races, it would have been position 45 out of 324 finishers (14%).

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