One of my goals for 2016 was to manage a sub-40 minute 10K, and ideally I wanted that to be in a race. For the first (almost) half of the year I’d been training for marathons and an ultra marathon so couldn’t really do much with speedwork, but early on I did manage to get my 10K time down to 41 minutes so that’d I’d only need to find another minute or so to meet this goal. My first real chance to attempt this goal was the inaugural Nottingham 10K from Run For All, the organisers that did the Lincoln 10K last year.
With a hectic couple of months of racing big miles my legs started to tire, though I was fortunate enough to still set the 5K PB I was after at Milton Keynes just two weeks before. An increase in temperature though meant that it was likely going to slow me down. My target went from trying to get a PB, to trying to get as close to 41 minutes as I could manage. This was okay though, you have to take the conditions of the day into account when setting realistic goals.
The race itself started at 09:30 but I was hoping to also meet-up with some of the #ukrunchat community so left home at 07:15 so I’d have over an hour after arriving to meet-up. Even with road closures it turned out I’d left more than enough time and sat in the sun waiting for some familiar faces. I got to talk to @Sherieamore1, @Roddis22, @Getoffathecouch, and @Shellmoby before heading over to the start. Okay maybe a little bit weird being the only guy in the group, but I didn’t think about that at the time.
The race start though was delayed by about 8 minutes due to a parked car on the route – something I later thought strange as there were many parked cars! I started to cool quickly during this wait and was actually shivering, but knew once the race started I’d warm up reasonably quickly. I had no idea how quickly though!
Within half a mile the route went up the steepest of the hills on the course, with a gradient of around 8.5% in places. It took a lot of work getting up that hill and by the peak my pace had dropped by almost 3mins/mile to 08:40min/mile! On the hill climb I actually considered walking and thought it crazy that I’d need to walk less than a mile into race. I kept pushing though and heard a spectator shout
“the hill finishes at the top”
Well yes, yes it does – that’s generally what hills do. Though I guess what he meant was that we were near the top, and from there it would be down hill for a while. I was pleased to reach the top and managed to regain some lost time on the downhill stretch peaking at 5:04min/mile – a speed I wouldn’t normally consider on a race of this length. It was getting warmer too and by 2 miles I felt my mouth get so dry that I needed water. For this race though there was only the one water station at 5K so I had to push on.
At mile 3 as the course was went through the memorial gardens and to the embankment – an area familiar from the Robin Hood Half and Full marathons over the past two years. When I got to the water station inside the park I slowed to a walk whilst I sipped the water. It had been hard work, but I’d done the first 5K in 19:46 so as long as I didn’t walk for too long there was still the chance of getting the target time of 41 minutes. As I’ve often found, walking once soon puts me off for the rest of the run. I think it makes me less willing to push hard.
Shortly after I started running again (after about a minute of walking) there was a hairpin bend at the embankment that then directed us ever closer to the city centre and to the finish. Over the remaining 5K I walked quite a few times, but for most of the occasions not for long enough to have a big impact on the average time for that mile split. There were however two walking breaks up the steeper of the hills that were noticeable – definitely far from the mostly flat course I’d imagined it to be.
By mile 5 my average pace had recovered a little, but was still not brilliant. I’d overestimated what I was going to be able to manage as found the last mile to be difficult – I kept walking more and more, though somehow, maybe stupidly, and managed to claw back some of the lost time between each break. As it got closer to the end one of the marshals shouted that this was the last hill – a massive relief, but to my dismay there was another hill hiding around the corner!
When the 400 metre sign appeared I thought this meant it was time to speed up, and this is what I did. Mostly because it was down hill, but then it levelled off for the last 100 metres before the finish. I glanced at my watch, realised I was already slower than my PB and decided not to push any harder. I don’t mean to sound defeatist but I’d already messed the race up for myself and a few seconds weren’t going to make the difference.
I finished in position 55 out of 2120 finishers (first 2.5%) with a time of 41:32. It’s my third best time for a 10K so far, which means I’ve got a bit of work to do before I manage to reach my goal time. I need to work more on trying to not walk during a run, try to get used to running in warmer weather and practice more hills. Maybe then, combined with some more speedwork I’ll be ready.
After the race I met up again with Shell who’d beaten her previous PB, and then a little later saw Nic and Sherie who had both finished with excellent times – for Nic it was a PB! We then headed over to just before the finish line to cheer Kimberley over the line who managed to smash a new PB as well! A great day out for the #UKRunChat community! It was then really nice to socialise with them a little before the journey home.
It was a good race, and a good day – I’m seriously thinking of doing this race again despite the hills! The best part of the day was of course the #UKRunChat meet-up – a pleasure to see them as always.