My first race of 2013, and since my knee ligament debacle took place in Sefton Park, which is 235 acres in size and has been designated a Grade III Historic Park by English Heritage (thank you Wikipedia)...
Prior to the race I'd only completed two half decent interval sessions with the club, as well as my own training around my local routes. Due to this I didn't have any idea what my speed or stamina across 10km would be like, with the exception of a couple of sub 45 minute training runs on my own.
I had a dream on the Friday that I completed 10km in 35 minutes (and that included having a walk in the middle), there was no way I was going to achieve that - or if I'll ever be able to !
As this was the first Liverpool Spring 10km there had been I didn't know what the course would be like, other than a note on the website saying that the course had been changed slightly due to the number of runners, and that there would now be a stepped section (yay!)
I turned up nice and early and was pleased that the sun had come out and that I wasn't shivering on the start line as seems to be the case for most races.
It was a quick start and 3 of my running club mates were ahead of me - not bad if I could keep it that way I thought. The first 3 kilometres went fairly fast, which I completed in 12:12. The course was proving to be quite twisty and turny, with terrain changing from tarmac to grass to trail type pathways.
I was feeling ok until just after the 4th km; this is where the steps mentioned on the website came into play. They sent my heart rate through the roof and took a couple of kilometres for it to come back down again.
This meant my 5th kilometre was completed in 4:18 (5km time 20:33) and 6th in 4:22. At the 5 kilometre point the course looped back round to complete another lap.
Despite this drop in pace I managed to get one of my running club mates into my line of vision up ahead, so focused on trying to close that gap - though I was a good 200m behind them.
In truth, at this point I was done in; I'm pretty unfit compared to how I was last year when I posted a 10km PB of 39:29, and the first 5km, as well as the stepped area took it out of me. I did get a second wind and completed kilometre 7 in 4:05, but that would be the fastest kilometre I completed of the latter 5.
As this course was a two lap course that meant, yes, you guessed it, the dreaded steps again! They came into view during the 8th kilometre and after tackling them for a second time sent my heart rate sky high again. My running club mate was now 50m ahead of me and I did all I could to reel him in as much as possible so I could go torpedo on his arse (not that kind of torpedo on his arse...) on the home straight.
It was very warm now as the sun was beating down... (Naturally I'm expecting bronze coloured skin tomorrow - reality will be burnt skin, in the shape of my running vest) I was feeling the effects but was happy to see the finish line come into view. I was really panting at this point and was trying to reign myself in to not sprint off too early.
With about 70 - 50m to go I went flat out; I was gaining on my running club mate... Gaining, gaining, gaining...
I crossed the finish line... Did I finish 4th or 3rd out of my club? Photographic evidence below:
Yes I did, by 1 second! My finish time was 41:52; sub 42 minutes, a time I am extremely happy with, and 3rd placed Liverpool Running Club competitor.
Final Race stats
First 5km: 20:33
Second 5km: 21:19
Overall a really good race, excellently organised and marshaled, though a tough course - but exactly what I needed to test out my knee and get my heart, lungs and legs working to get some of the cob webs blown away.
Footnote / confession 1
Throughout the race report I constantly mention my running club mate being ahead of me and trying to catch him. I would not have begrudged him finishing ahead of me and, in truth, it's probably because of him that I managed a sub 42 minute time as he really made me push myself every single step of the way, particularly my sprint finish. I'm not driven by trying to be the best at my club - just the best I can be, and today, I was able to do that, within my current fitness capabilities.
Footnote / confession 2
My prep for this race hadn't been the best - I did something I've never done the evening before a race; I went out drinking. Now, whilst I only had several pints it is something I would never ever normally do. However on this occasion I felt I had to make an exception.
Due to this I was feeling a little dehydrated so perhaps could have gone a little faster had I prepped in my normal manner, but, I turned up and I ran, and I worked my backside off, so I'm not going to be too hard on myself.
"The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat." -Theodore Roosevelt