Sunday, June 18, 2017

Hull 10k 2017

A few Striders pre race
Since I started running some 9 years ago, I never really focused on running 10k races. Marathons and half marathons were more appealing to me. Then I slowly started to dip my toe into the shorter and faster race versions. However, it was never on the back of specific training for those distances. As a result, my 10k times normally were between 44mins and 42mins.

More recently, I have been doing regular speed work outs including Thursday night track sessions with Driffield Striders running club. Combined with that, I have lost some weight due to a low carb diet. My fabulous wife Zoe, who is a very talented cook, comes up with wonderful carb replacements in our weekly meals.

My 10k times in the last year have slowly been coming down to 41mins and then 40mins in recent months. However, I never imagined I could run a sub 40mins 10k. Then, on the back of my recent 10k performances, and the confidence of some running buddies, I began to believe that I might be able to do it. So, I signed up for the Hull 10k as it was a flat and fast course and decided to go for it. Zoe also signed up for the race as she is now back from injury and slowly regaining her form.

The sun definately had its hat on as we arrived in Hull on race morning. It was forecast to be in the high 20's, so I was thankful that it was just a 10k and not a marathon.  There were a few other Driffield Striders running as well as about 8,000 others. Therefore, we headed straight into the start line corral to get a good spot to prevent potential congestion problems at the start.

I was already sweating as the sun was beating down on us as we waited for the race to start. I saw the 40 minute pacer in the corral and placed myself close to him. My plan was to run an evenly paced race as it was a flat course, so 6min 25sec/mile was the target.

It was relief when the race started and I found myself running just behind the pacer. I hadn't planned to run with the pacer but decided to stay with him for a first couple of miles in order to settle into the race without having to worry about getting my pace right. After 2 miles, I was feeling good, the pace felt comfortable and I decided to stay with the pacer and go with it.

We were then running along side the Humber estuary which offered a welcome breeze and I focused on maintaining my form and trying to relax. As we reached the 5k marker, I was starting to feel the pace a little and knew that the second half of the race would be tough. I was just ahead of the 40min pacer at this point and knew that I was still on track.

By the time that my garmin beeped the end of mile 4, I was having dig in to maintain the pace. The pacer had closed the gap and now slowly passed me. To my surprise, he had dropped all the people that had been running with him, so he was now running on his own. At this point, I had a choice to make. Forget the pacer and try to get to the finish as fast as I can or commit to staying with the pacer no matter what! I chose the latter and braced myself.

It was time to put mind over matter and keep pushing. I knew that if I could get to the last mile and still be with the pacer, I could hang on until the end. This was a great chance to break 40 mins!!

My garmin finally beeped to mark the end of mile 5 and I was still running just behind the pacer, my legs and body were screaming at me to slow down but I was simply not going to be dropped and kept pushing. I became aware that I was starting to make all sorts of strange noises, ones that I had never made before. I had heard other runners making grunts and groans in races and thought they must be really pushing themselves. Now it was my turn!

It's fair to say the last mile was as tough as it gets. I had given everything and then rinsed myself to maintain the pace all the way to the finish. I crossed the line and then everything stopped, my head was empty and my body felt numb. I must have looked in a state as a first aid guy guided me into the tent and laid me on a bed. I could barely speak and needed to recover for a while.

Once recovered,  I was blown away to discover that I ran 39mins 37secs. It was one of the toughest things that I've ever done. Brilliant!

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