So call it what you will – brave, foolhardy, stupid – but just a week on from completing the marathon in a new personal best, I’m on the start line of another race. I was running in the Vale of York 10 after taking the number of club mate in a transfer – a decision I made just a few days before the marathon.
My preparation for this race was unconventional, to say the least. I’d put a lot of effort into the marathon, so I thought I deserved a bit of time off. So much so in fact, that when I started getting into my kit at the gliding air strip that formed the start, I was putting on a pair of running shoes for the first time since taking them off at the end of 26.2 miles the week before. Total mileage for the week – zero.
The Vale of York is basically the area between Leeds and York, which is very very flat (with the first mile and a half taking place on a runway), so in theory it is definitely a PB course. My previous ten mile races – the Otley 10 and the Eccup 10 in 2017 were both definitely not flat, so I was hoping that the marathon form might be able to carry over, and that I could break my previous PB of 1:00:05 and go under an hour.
My race probably doesn’t deserve much explaining. I set off right at the start, heading out one way and then back on the runway, ticking off the first mile in 5:35. This was, to be frank, too fast for a body fresh off a marathon and possibly my current form as well. What I also haven’t mentioned yet was that this race was taking place on the hottest day of the year, so as I started to slow the pace down to try and even things out, my body was heating up, things were getting much harder, and I was starting to slow without wanting to.
The route heads south out of the airfield and along some typical Yorkshire lanes, until the three mile mark where it starts an anti-clockwise lollipop, before heading back in on the lanes you went out on back to the start. At around three to four miles in I was really struggling, still clocking my miles off consistently slower, and having the odd person come past me. I must have written this countless times before, but that little niggly voice jumped up in the back of my head to chuck it in. This was beaten down by thoughts of – you’re not struggling that much, you’ll look silly when people come past, how will you get back to the race start, and actually, if you hold on until mile seven you may as well finish.
That’s probably a lot of explanation of just a little in my head, but it was definitely one of those not enjoying it but kind of enjoying it in some odd sense races. It was really tough. As I went through seven miles, and I think I vaguely knew it at the time, but every mile was slower than the one before. The final three miles were more of the same – struggling in the heat and slowing all the time. Mile one was ticked off in 5:35, mile nine in 6:20.
At this point in the race we passed someone being attended to by paramedics from an ambulance supporting the race. The event staff were very organised to divert runners coming in to a little hop over a ditch to run on a grass verge for a short while with the ambulance in the road. Of course the most important thing is that we later heard that the person was taken to hospital and is recovering well. It would be easy to connect the heat of the day to the incident, but I think that’s just inappropriate speculation without knowing any of the facts. It’s a testament to the organisation of the race that it was able to be dealt with swiftly and that the person got the help they needed.
Back to my race, and the final turn right took me on to the entrance to the airfield, and I could see runners turning to their left and finishing. A final bit of finish line in sight motivation pushed me on, but only to not completing mile ten slower again and completing a ‘full Thatcher’, and not fast enough to break my PB – finishing in an official 1:00:16.
It was definitely a (horrible phrase) curate’s egg of a race for me. It was really well organised, and it was a gorgeous day to be out in the lanes of Yorkshire. Yet for most of the race I was really not enjoying it and felt terrible, but yet again I kind of enjoyed it – that dual bad/good feeling is probably common for most runners.
I probably learned quite a bit from that race. I’m normally used to things going really well, so to completely bork up my pacing is quite humbling. It’s taught me that I need to respect the conditions more, respect the body more, and realise that sometimes not every day is going to be your day.
Next for me is a bit more rest, but keeping things ticking over until the John Carr 5K series and an attempt at a road 5K PB, and soon on the blog I’ll have a preview of the second big goal of 2017.