Leicester’s Big 10K 2016

After failing to get the PB I wanted in Nottingham I decided to enter Leicester’s Big 10K again thinking that would be another good chance. I was wrong though – following my ankle injury whilst in Moscow I failed to do the Two Castles Run I’d entered for when I returned, and even by the time I did the #ukrunchat Shrewsbury Half Marathon my ankle had not healed. So just like last time I’d ran it, I would be running this one whilst recovering from an injury and off the back of a lot of missed training. Just over a week before the race I had it checked out and was told it’d take a couple more months of healing before it was right, and I should be careful when running on it.

By race day I had lost any confidence of being capable of attempting a PB – instead I decided I should just run and see what happens. Which in all honesty is all you can ever do, even if you set a target. I was no longer going to set a target but figured that a sub-45 would be nice.

On the day of the race I’d still got blisters from where my ankle support had been running during training runs over the past week, but I had at least managed a sub-7min/mile paced 5.5 mile run a few days before in the summer heat. When I first got there they hadn’t set up the start line so I wandered around for a while and eventually came across a couple of friends who I stood talking to until it was time for the race start. Unlike other races where the start is prompt, they waited for those in the queue for the 6 portaloos to make their way over to the line before starting.

As the race started I ran at a pace that didn’t feel too bad, but was slower than I’d have been doing had I been planning on a PB. It was a relatively traffic-free run, and as I knew about the congestion at an archway the last time I did it I tried to time myself to reach it without having to stop. After the first mile I was 10 seconds down on what I’d have wanted for sub-40, but felt that it wasn’t too bad – I knew I wasn’t going to PB and I just needed to see what my ankle would allow. Moments later I passed a friend who was there to support her sister, and was there cheering us all on.

Half a mile later the route then left the park for the first time, and the full force of the sun was beating down on the runners. It was hot, and it felt like it was getting hotter. It didn’t take long before I felt that I needed to walk to cool down, and to wipe the sweat from my eyes (I’d forgotten my #ukrunchat buff I’d normally use for this). I kept going though and almost made it to 2.5 miles before walking – the first of many times. At 2.5 miles the route went down hill back into the park, passed the water station (which I walked through and poured water over my head), across the car park and down some steps to the canal.

I’d forgotten about the canal path. When I went to have my ankle looked at I was told I could carry on running on it as long as I was careful and kept to flat surfaces. The canal path was anything but flat and it felt like it wasn’t doing my ankle any good. Apparently the race this year was in July as the council was supposed to be working on the canal path in April when it otherwise would have been. It seemed they hadn’t actually done anything though and I found this time I needed to ease off to take some of the stress away from my ankle.

The route passed the start-line and also where we’d all be finishing later, but kept on running straight passed it and this time took a different route through the park until once again we left it and went around the outside as before. By this time I’d had enough – the heat, my ankle, and lack of training was really showing and I’d walked far too much of the course. I figured though if I could run as much of the last two miles as I could then perhaps I could get a sub-45 time which would at least be better than last time, when I ran with a bad knee.

It was hard work and I pushed on as often as I could, but the walking breaks still felt like a necessity. I do at least manage to run down the hill and through to the canal and along some of it this time however, though I couldn’t run the full section of the course along the canal without needing to walk. Back in the park one last time I saw the “400 metres” to go sign and started to pick up speed, but then slowed again to a walk. I could see the finish – it wasn’t that far away really, so I started running again and once hitting the grassy surface I picked up speed for the final 200 metres. I decided to push a little harder for this and was up to 4:16min/mile by the time I crossed the line. Moments after they made an announcement that they needed paramedics at the finish line for a runner that had come in just after me.

I finished with an official time of 44:02 in position 44 out of 457 (putting me in the first 10% of finishers). Considering how bad it had felt I guess that wasn’t too bad, though had I not injured myself in Russia I think it could have gone better. As unfortunate as it was, I guess we all have races like this and I just had to do the best I felt I could do on the day. Just that best happened to be slower than my run a few days before.

This being my first race (and second run) with my new Garmin Forerunner 235 it also happened to be a useful chance to see what sort of extra stats it could produce. Although on Friday’s run I got a VO2 max score of 54, today’s race had been 53 – so not too big a difference. Also, although it didn’t feel like I’d worked that hard, the heart rate monitor indicated I’d averaged 171bpm (about 130 higher than my average resting heart rate) – so again was interesting to see how much it increased, and an indication that I was actually working fairly hard.

I know from this race I’ve got a lot of work to do to get back up to the speed I was before my ankle injury, and I’ve still got more time before it will have fully healed. My next race is now Bassingham Bash in August so I’m hopeful I’ll have recovered and improved enough by then to get a time I can be a little happier with.