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Wandering the World

Stories and tips from around the world.

Leicester's Big 10K

Two weeks out from the Boston Marathon (in Lincolnshire), and I should really be doing a marathon-paced half marathon as part of tapering. Instead, having not done a 10K race this year, and this race being one I often do, I decided I may as well do a 10K with about 80% effort. With a decent warm-up and cool-down alongside it; maybe it'd be similar effort to a slower half. At least, that was my reasoning.

My first 10K of the year, and my first race this year without Carmen being there. I’ve struggled with fast runs lately so today my only plan was to get around as quick as I felt my legs could manage. I fully expected some of it would be walking as I was certain I’d misjudged what sorted to run at, or would want to walk at some point no matter how slow I went. It’s not the best mindset to go into a race with.

I’d parked up in the John Lewis car park (£3.50 for 2 hours, or £4.00 for the day on a Sunday), and used the mile from there to the race village as a slow warmup. I then sat in the sun by the lakeside watching the ducks, geese and swans until twenty minutes before the elite start so I could drop off by bag for later. I’d decided a t-shirt was going to be enough today, even though it was cool in the shade.

The elite start had 100 people, and an hour later there’d be a further 1,000 runners taking part in today’s race. At the front of this one was Gemma Steel, and I felt I could be pretty sure the championship runner was going to be the overall race winner today (spoiler: she actually came third but was first female by almost ten minutes ahead of second). The number of people around me wearing Vaporflys or other ‘super shoes’ was ridiculous. I hope that’s something I never do.

At the start of the race I know I started too quickly, but I reined in the speed as soon as I noticed and tried to settle into a pace somewhere between 06:30/mi and 06:40. It’s the sort of pace I should really be able to do 10K training runs in. I couldn’t really remember the interior route from previous races without instead thinking of the park run that takes place here now.

It starts with the familiar inside loop, and quickly goes out onto Abbey Park Road. I was careful not to go too fast as I know this is a slight incline with more of one on St. Margaret’s Way. I felt fairly comfortable so far, and tried to keep out of the sun as much as I could.

Eventually the course goes back into the park towards the second mile, and so far it was looking like a sub-40 wouldn’t quite be possible unless I was going to speed up. I didn’t really want to though unless I felt like I could in the second half. So for now, a time of around 41 minutes would need to be okay. I was expecting to stay inside the park for a bigger lap, but instead it veers back out of the park onto the upper canal path and then back into the park from Abbey Park Road so that we would pass the start line. This time, it winds around to the River Soar and the water station at 5K. I was pleased to have covered that faster than most of my recent parkruns, but after a sip of water I started to feel like I was tiring already.

Once crossing the bridge over the river, and through the gate in the wall, it’s then a lap of The Oval, and across the other bridge near the Pavilion. I was determined to keep on going, and reached 4 miles a little slower than the previous miles. Outside of the park, I then walked briefly twice, which meant my fifth mile was considerably slower. I’d lost about almost a minute in the second half already, so it wasn’t looking great.

When I got running again I was determined to now run until the finish, and ran through the car park one more time and onto the lower canal path down the stairs. Going down the stairs it’s a tight turn onto the canal path, but I did think it’d be good practice for Guernsey. Maybe. There was a runner right behind me, and wanting to stay ahead pushed me on until I was off the canal path, and he overtook. I kept going though, and slowed when I crossed the start gantry, it wasn’t the finish though so had to keep on going.

The third time on this stretch of path it felt a lot windier this time, and as I got to near the Japanese Garden I was about to start walking, but instead pushed on and could see the finish line straight ahead. I was close to 42:00 minutes, but it didn’t feel like it was worth the effort of sprinting, so I just casually ran to the finish line.

I finished the race in 41:58, just barely managing a sub-42 minute race. It’s my second slowest time on this course, so really not good at all. It was however faster than both of the 10Ks I did last year, so maybe that’s still an improvement. I think I need to reintroduce cycling to my training as soon as possible, but I know it won’t be until after the marathon is done at least as I’m still trying to keep my Boardman clean, and it’s raining a little too much for it at the minute (I used to commute in ALL weathers, including snow, on my previous bike and was hard work keeping it clean).

Tags: 10k race running sports

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© David G. Paul