In the space of 4 days I have now 'competed' in 2 races, having not participated in one for over 7 months (and pulling out of 4 due to injury). These were the Bupa Great Manchester 10k and Knowsley 5k.
I owe a lot to the Manchester 10k; it was my first race (back in 2011) and training for it is when i caught 'the bug'. Lucky for me it's a lifer ;)
For the Manchester 10k I was in the wave of runners after the elites. Unfortunately there was never any danger of me getting anywhere near Haile Gebrselassie and co. (!) My race start time was 10:33, but due to the sheer density of runners it was a good 5 minutes after this before I crossed the start line.
My target for the run was to try and run faster than my training runs this year; which so far has been 42 - 43 minutes. I did harbour thoughts of maybe getting back to a sub 40 minute 10k, but after the 2km mark I knew this wasn't going to happen. Due to the numbers who participate in the Manchester 10k, 40,000 signed up this year, (yes, that's 5 zeros after the 4!) the course was extremely congested and I spent a lot of the time slowing down and speeding up.
It was very difficult to maintain a pace and get into a rhythm. Having said that, the pace I was managing as I passed the 3km mark, 12:25 (roughly 4:08/km), I was pleased with. I was on target for a sub 42 minute 10k on a course which, whilst fairly flat, was testing due to the stop - start nature.
Hitting the 5km mark my time was a very respectable 20:43 and I was feeling good - my running form was collected, and my breathing was as comfortable as you would expect it to be!
One of the reasons the Manchester 10k is so enjoyable is due to the many sights you see on the way - and this includes not just the scenery, but the fellow runners! The best-dressed this year had to go the rhino, talk about having the horn!!!! I didn't put much effort in to picking up the pace as I knew there would be pockets of space for me to speed up in as and when; I passed the 8km mark at 33:17.
The ninth kilometre was probably the hardest; fatigue started to set in as I've only really had one run longer than 10km this year so was lacking some stamina. Fortunately this was a dip and in the last kilometre I was able to produce a sprint finish, happy to run past the cameras -I'm a sucker for race photos!
My official time was 41:26, a time I am very happy with – 650th out of close to 40,000. The normal aches ensued after the race with a slight tightness in the left thigh, but fortunately no bad case of DOMS the day after!
The second race, the ‘Knowsley Active 5k’ is a race which took place at Knowsley Hall – a very grand estate owned by Lord Derby and situated next to Knowsley Safari Park.
It was very cheap to enter (£7) and there was a medal for completing (I do like a big of racing bling!). I turned up without knowing how competitive the race would be – only that there would be around 500 runners going off my number.
When I arrived and went to get my timing chip there were a lot of club runners – more than 10, and from 3 different clubs. Whilst this may have been the norm (and something I’m used to in bigger races) for a fairly small race it seemed a bit daunting.
The race, taking place on a Wednesday evening, started at 7.30. It had been a warm day but come race time it was fairly chilly – good for when running – not so much beforehand!
The race started at a very ferocious pace with the club runners dashing off. I stayed just behind this (fairly large!) pack and tried to keep up whilst settling into a good rhythm. I completed the first kilometre in 3:45, a pace I normally reserve for the final one!
After this my pace settled down nicely, with 2 consecutive 4 minute kilometres – the kind of speed I’d been aiming for the whole course, with a push at the end depending on how I felt.
The 4th kilometre is often my slowest/downfall. I don’t know if it’s a physcological thing, where I start to feel a little tired and ease off a bit for fear of burning out, but I recorded a 4:08 kilometre. There was a fairly long uphill section so perhaps it was in part due to that.
During the race I’d managed to pass about 5 people, which I was very happy with, and there were two ahead who I thought I had a good chance of catching. I caught the first up and tried to put on a little burst of speed to pull away from him, but he stayed with me. For a short while we were both running at a fairly quick pace, neither wanting to back down. Eventually I did, knowing that we were catching the next runner up, and confident I could drop them both on a sprint finish if I needed to.
With roughly 300m to go I was neck and neck with the two runners I’d aimed to pass. The guy who was the furthest ahead come the last km was flagging, and I passed him, but couldn’t shake off the other bloke. A final turn in the course gave a straight 100m path to the finish and I got up on my toes to stride out and finish ahead of my very determined running companion!
Final kilometre, 3:40, giving a total time of 19:33; my fastest this year, something I was happy about, even though I wish I’d pushed a little harder in the 4th kilometre.
Overall position was 17/259 – not bad considering the top two places were sub 17 minute 5ks!!