So my last blog post was a sad, depressing tale of a sad, depressing half-marathon. This is the tale of a surprisingly fun, fast 10k!
On Wednesday night, I joined several members of the Marlborough Running Club to run the Longest Day 10k on a balmy Wednesday evening in the nearby town of Chippenham. It wasn’t quite the longest day (that was the next day) but it was as near as damn it! I’d been in London all day so had a slightly mad dash from the station to Chippenham but I arrived with about 40 minutes to spare. There was some stealthy changing of clothes in the car and then I headed to the staging area to meet my people.
The race starts and ends on the High Street in Chippenham. There was a big archway set up and some drums banging out some rhythms. I found the portaloos, found the safety pins, found my team and found a spare hair elastic. Liz and I agreed we’d run together until one of us sped up/slowed down. Phil asked me what my goal was. In the car, I’d wondered if I could hold 8.30 for the 10k which would be about 53 minutes. But I sandbagged and said 55 minutes. We lined up and suddenly we were off.
The first mile was gently uphill the whole way. We ran through streets into a little park and then ran on pathways worn into the grass. We emerged onto a road and then onto a hard-packed trail for a while before coming out into a housing estate. It was good to be back on the road but the next mile was fairly solidly uphill – nothing steep but steady all the way. I was working hard but feeling decent, Liz right beside me. I never glanced at my watch, but it felt holdable.
We headed next onto trail for the next mile or so. It was a decent surface – hard grass or gravel, easy to run on but still slower than pavement. It was however quite narrow and I got stuck behind the 55 minute pacers, two of them next to each other, chatting away. Instead of getting stressed, I decided to bide my time behind them until I had the chance to pass. I hoped that I’d save energy, I’d avoid pushing too hard too soon. So I snuggled down behind them and ran steadily. I felt very much within myself. It was decent. I didn’t know where Liz was.
At probably Mile 3, the chance came to pass them so I skipped to one side and headed off. This felt really good psychologically – I assumed I was in the 54s and a 54 minute 10k would make me happy enough. So I kept running as hard as I could without running too hard. We finally emerged onto road (uphill, into a headwind) but I still felt remarkably decent so I pushed on. We got to Mile 4 and I was slowly passing runner after runner. A few passed me back but it felt good.
The final mile was blessedly downhill and on road so I tried to up my game a little. Whenever a downhill came, I made the most of it and I started to push harder. At one point, I just felt so very happy. I’d spent the day at my heart hospital (no news to tell you) surrounded by people much sicker than I have ever been and I felt so incredibly lucky to be running on a lovely summer’s evening and to be feeling strong at the end of a 10k.
The final stretch was back into town, retracing our steps. Once we got into the town centre, I ran as hard as I flipping could. The final 0.1m was a gorgeous fast downhill through the metal barriers with the crowd cheering and the drums banging. It was a flipping cracking way to end a race. I crossed the line, stopped my garmin and felt really happy with how the race had gone.
A few minutes later I decided to check my watch and was ridiculously pleased to see 52.13 – an average pace of 8.27. That was a cracking night’s work.
It was good to see all my teammates after the race. I’m never ever in the speedy group at run club and I think people were surprised (and a little impressed) with my time and that’s always nice! Everyone was happy and buzzing on endorphins so we snuck off to the pub on the high street and drank summer drinks outside chatting. It was gorgeous. I felt really happy and really quite settled in our new home.
This race has encouraged me that my 1.49 half might not be out of the question quite yet bt it’s also reminded me what a cracking distance the 10k is. My current PR is 50 minutes but I haven’t got this close to it for two years.
If you’re looking for me, I’ll be the one googling 10ks at the end of July 🙂