A year ago I did the Rothley 10K for the first time, and it was one of my first 10K races. It was however one which took place at a time when I was having issues with my knees and this race played havoc on them. I decided to enter it again this year, but again knew I wouldn’t be racing at full speed due to it only having a day’s rest since my last race.
On the day of the race I prepared my race kit and took it to work with me – I’d again be going straight from the office so needed to make sure I had everything I would need with me. I left the office later than normal, expecting heavy rush hour traffic though, but still arrived two hours before the race’s start time. So, after parking up I sat down in front of the Royal Oak pub for the next 90 minutes until a friend arrived at the race. Whilst I sat there I realised I was hungry – able to smell the food the people behind me were eating, yet not having eaten myself since a sandwich at lunchtime.
Unlike last year’s race, it was warm and humid, so I planned on using a water station when returning to the first hill for the second lap. My goal would be to finish the race without walking, something I’d had to do for the previous 3 races, but ideally if I could, a sub-45 time would be nice too (though I knew there was absolutely zero chance of a PB, but that’d be a goal for another month).
To start with I headed up the first hill maybe a little faster than I should have, and completed the first two miles faster than I have before (in 13:03). If I’d carried on at this pace for another mile I’d have managed a 5K PB – something I wasn’t planning on setting, but alas it was not to be as soon after passing the mile marker I slowed to a walk for the first time this race as I approached the water station. I then started off running again and then managed to run for the majority of the way around to the second lap, but had to walk (twice) up that very first hill of the lap.
Having already had a gulp of water from the previous water station I still went ahead and had some water from this next station, but only drank the smallest of amounts. As this lap continued I eventually lost count of how many times I had to slow down to a walk for 10-20 seconds of walking at a time. Over the course of a mile these soon add up and had made quite a difference to my mile splits. My speed didn’t bother me though, I could have been running slower than I ever have done before and I’d have been okay – just so long as I wasn’t walking. It felt like I couldn’t help it though – my brain was telling me to walk for a while.
By the time I got around to mile 5 I’d lost a lot of time from walking, but I decided with only 1.2 miles left I would not walk again, no matter what speed I dropped down to. After another half mile had passed I started to struggle again, but convinced myself if I could continue pushing just that little bit longer I’d be passed the hill I was on and could start to take it easier going down hill. Thankfully I continued on as I started to go down that last hill I picked up the pace, though did struggle a little after the corner that led on to the last (approximately) 0.3 of a mile. It was a struggle but I kept going and for the last bit I did actually manage to speed up to a sprint to finally finish (though one marshall did raise his hands as if to tell me to slow down).
I finished 62nd with a chip-time time of precisely 44:00, out a field of 532 finishers (in just under the top 12%). It wasn’t a bad time or position really, but I was still very disappointed in myself that for the fourth race in a row I resorted to walking part of it. It felt like I had lost all motivation and couldn’t convince myself that I could still run a whole 10K, even though I have run 22 miles without walking before. With another race on Friday my hope now shifted to managing that race without walking.
As this was the 30th anniversary run it meant that instead of the usual red/maroon coloured t-shirt there was a commemorative purple t-shirt which was actually quite a nice one. For this year the goodie bag also included a commemorative medal in addition to the usual bottle of water. In the 30 years since this race started they have reportedly raised £200K for local charities.
I may try this race again next year as it is a nice course, and there is support along quite a portion of the route – maybe in a year’s time my running will have improved enough to have a proper go at this.