the only distance I've not PB'd at this year is 10K. I decided that I'd have one practice at it before my proper attempt at the Leicester 10K later in the year, so booked this fairly local race. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but then the British heatwave struck and training pretty much went out of the window. I should have learnt my lesson by now that summer races don't work for me.
As weeks passed by the sun was relentless and my times seemed to get worse and worse. My goal for this race changed from wanting around 40:00 to just finishing it. Who knows how warm it'd feel on the day - we're chasing the sun, right?.
This being a mid-week race meant it took place after work - I'd need to be in Loughborough for around 18:00 ready for a 19:00 start. As it could take anywhere between 30 minutes and an hour to get there at rush hour, I decided my best option was to go from work. This did mean I was parked up at Prestwold Hall about 90 minutes before I needed to be there.
I started off with an easy 0.8 mile warm-up, and then bumped into Jen and Paul who I know from previous races. Jen has since become a guide runner, so would be tethered to Leigh whilst running. The three of them did the 1 mile race to start with, which I'd not considered entering, so I sat on the tarmac and clapped them and others as they passed.
When the time came, I joined the others at the start of the 5K and 10K, but didn't bother with the warm-up. They called people to the start line by starting time, first 15 minute 5K runners and 35 minute 10K runners. Wow. There were a few that walked over, then they called for sub-44 minute 10K runners. Well, I plan on running sub-42 so I guess that's me.
The race started downhill which made it difficult to judge what the right pace would be. A quick glance at my watch, one of the few times I did, I noticed it was sub-6:00/mi. Too fast. I eased off the pace as the track levelled off and bent around to the left. By now I'd moved from being on the far right of the track, to running along the racing line on the left-hand side. I'd slotted in behind some runners that were going at a similar pace to me.
About 100-200 metres ahead of me I could still see the front of the pack being led by the cyclist, rounding the next bend onto the back straight. In the distance I could see dark storm clouds - it looked like it was raining not too far away. Could I finish this before the rain arrived? With a bend to the right I moved across the track ready for it, trying to take the best possible line. I'd just overtaken two runners - the only ones I did during this race. My watched buzzed, the first mile was done in 6:15. That came as a suprise, it didn't feel like I was running that fast. Instead of adjusting I continued on at this pace as the course turned and turned again, getting ever closer to the starting line. One lap complete.
The second mile passed by without me really noticing, and this one was ever so slightly quicker than the one before. This took me back to that first bend, and the back of the field. From that point on anyone I overtook would be someone I'd be lapping, but I tried not to think too much about it. In the past I've felt guilty for lapping people, and have slowed down on passing. This time I maintained pace the best I could.
As I approached three miles I could see the first of the 5K finishers. It'd have been tempting to finish - but so far I wasn't overheating. So far, so good. I then crossed the start line once more. Strangely the laps didn't seem too bad - usually I find them mentally draining. I think this time the openness of the course, and the cheerfulness of the marshals helped a lot.
At the start of the third lap I heard someone shout "David", though they were already behind me and I wasn't sure if it was actually me they were talking to so I kept on going - determined to get a sub-41 after having the first three miles go better than expected. I then passed Jen and Leigh, so said "hi" as I passed. It was starting to feel harder - I could feel the lack of tempo training. It was during this third lap I also went from passing a few runners at a time, to having to weave through hordes of runners. I realised I'd be going beyond 10K, but that's the way it goes with laps.
When I crossed the start for the third time I was so pleased I was onto the final lap. I soon hit the five mile mark, and found myself starting to speed up a little during some sections. Every time I noticed, I slowed myself down. I didn't want to overdo it with a 22 mile training run at the weekend. Though maybe I already had overdone it - doing some quick maths I realised I was almost certainly going to be under 40 minutes; but wasn't quite sure if it'd be sub-39 as well.
I decided common sense was needed here, so I continued on at a steady pace until the last bend. At that point I allowed myself to speed up, but not sprint, so that when the finish line came into view I could cross it comfortably.
I finished 8th out of 313 finishers, and third in my age category, with an official time of 39:20. Strava indicated if it hadn't been for the weaving on laps 2-4 I'd have gotten around 39:03 as that was the time I'd covered 10K in. Of couse though, I always consider my official time to be the PB, not what Strava says.
From the finish line I got a finishers medal, a bottle of water, and a banana - but uncharacteristicly passed on the flapjack as I wanted to get running again to cool down. After 1.5 miles of cooling down the rain arrived just as I got to my car. What incredible luck!
With this new PB (by a few seconds!) I've now PB'd at 5K, 10K, Half Marathon, and Marathon distances this year even if I've not quite met the targets I'd set. It's a step in the right direction, and I'm not imposing a time limit on achieving those goals.
The race went far better than I had any right to hope; but it's left me thinking that perhaps when I run my next 10K I should aim for a sub-39:00 time. Perhaps I'd have to see how two weeks on the Dalmatian Coast affects performance.