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Wandering the World

Stories and tips from around the world.

RunThrough Chase the Sun Leicestershire 10K

My last 10K didn't go that well, but fortunately I knew I'd got a few more still booked in for the year. The downside to this next one was that it's an evening race which makes fuelling harder, but on the positive side it's one that would be in daylight, and I've PB'd on this course before so I knew it well enough. Of course there was absolutely no chance of getting a PB tonight, no matter how hard I tried. My only goal for tonight would be to beat the times for the 10Ks I've done since the pandemic began. I just needed to get back to going sub-40. If I could do that, then I'd be on my way back to where I was.

At 17:00 I drove to Wymeswold, knowing it'd take a little longer to get there due to rush hour traffic. It's one of the downsides to doing this race, the other being that I wouldn't be able to have dinner until 21:00. I'd had a Bakewell flapjack as a snack before leaving out, hoping that fuel-wise, it'd be enough. I did however find that rush hour traffic now isn't anything like how it used to be, and got to the venue with well over an hour before the race. As with other RunThrough events, this is a number collection on the day event, so got that, and then just waited in my car. The parking at this one is free, and there's plenty of it.

The people doing 10 miles started first, and then eventually the 5K and 10K runners started after a short warm-up. There were a fair few of us planning for sub-20 or sub-40 (depending on distance) so I started about half-way back in that pack, unsure of what I'd be capable of today. I knew it was warm, I'd felt the heat sitting in my car waiting, and now at the start line I could feel strong gusts of wind too. A runner in front of me asked the person about to start the race if there'd be a break in the wind,

"No, it can be sunny, or raining, but it's always windy here"

She didn't seem happy with that. The race then started at exactly 19:00, the first of four laps. I started off maybe a little too quick to start with, but the first 0.1 mile is slightly down hill so it is expected. There is then an ever so slight incline as you round onto the first straight, and immediately it began to feel more familiar. I could remember the next couple of turns at least. It then turns into a short downhill stretch and rounds back into another up-hill straight. I didn't really notice the hill on this first lap, but what I did notice was that for about half a mile I'd not felt the wind that I had at the start, but now it was back and I could feel it blowing through the timing chip on my shoe. I think it was a little windier than I'd realised. The next straight after that is fairly flat, and it's not long before you can see and then pass by the side of the blue arch for the eventual finish. I'd got another three laps to go, and so far, so good. I'd done the first mile at 06:00/mi, but my pace had dropped during those last two straights so at the start of the second lap I was already going slower, and needed to pick up speed again. This time around, I could feel the insect bites on the back of my legs for the first few corners. I wanted to scratch them so badly, but wanting to do well drove me on.

Shortly after, one of the runners who'd been just ahead of me for most of the race so far, pulled off to the side and stopped. I slowed down to ask if she was okay, she said she wasn't, but a marshal was heading over to her so I continued on. By the time I reached the second of the inclines I'd forgotten about the itching of the insect bites, and was thinking more about the climb. It wasn't much of one, but I was really noticing it. Was it the heat or wind, or just me? I walked briefly a few times, and then got going again as I could see the start of the next lap ahead.

On the third lap I managed to run most of it consistently, at least I'd run a mile of it without stopping anyway. The wind wasn't so bad on the last two straights as it had been on the previous laps, so didn't feel quite as tiring. It was a relief to then know I was starting the fourth and final lap. My legs felt fine, but my breathing was definitely off, it felt like I just didn't have the VO2max I used to, despite Garmin Connect claiming otherwise. I got to the first incline, and walked for a few steps, wiping the sweat from my forehead before pushing on. I tried to run as much as I could, but just felt like I couldn't now. On the last two straights I walked again until Craig, a Poplars runner who'd been behind me, caught up and encouraged me to keep running. I got running again, and tried to pick up the pace. Eventually I crossed the finish line at not quite sprinting pace.

I finished in 40:53, my slowest post-pandemic 'road' 10K yet. I thought Leicester's Big 10K had been one I'd badly paced, and that Battersea Park 10K was slow because it was night (I knew all nighttime races I do are slow), but this one had been slower than both. Somehow though, I still finished 7th out of 114 finishers for the 10K, and was 1st in the V35 category. I've got this race again in August, so it'll be another chance to get back to sub-39. Maybe even a chance to get sub-38 again, but that is less likely. It'll be after Race to the Tower, and well into training for London Marathon, so maybe. Maybe I can start to improve again soon.

Tags: 10k race running sport

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© David G. Paul