So it was finally race day. For me, it was a familiar situation – standing on the start line of a big race in Manchester as I did at the 2015 and 2016 marathons, but an unfamiliar race – the first time I had run hard and targeted a half marathon as a standalone race since 2011, and the first running of the ALDI Manchester Half Marathon.
Now the only thing people dislike more about people being disappointed in their times when they would dream of doing similar, is people whinging about having poor training, injuries, but still being able to run those times. Unfortunately I’d probably become one of those insufferable individuals in the run up to this race. There was a lot of truth to it though – my high mileage plan had lead to my body breaking through illness and injury, and over the twenty weeks I’d probably done fewer miles than I would have done on previous plans. My taper had lead to me possibly slacking off too much as my motivation waned, and I looked forward more and more to just getting the season over and the off-season on (fast-forwarding to the day after the race, this meant wine and Ben and Jerry’s on a work night).
My final race before the Manchester Half was to be the Standalone 10K. I picked this race as it was nice and close to the half – giving me the same kind of ‘tune up’ that a half (a little bit further out) before the marathon does. It was also a race back down near my family home and organised by my old running club, North Herts Roadrunners, and gave me the opportunity to complete the ‘Goose Slam’ – PBs in every major distance between the mile and the marathon in the calendar year. The 10K was the last that needed to go, with 36:16 my previous best.
My form had started to feel a little patchy in the run up to the race, but after a good track session on the Thursday before the race, I felt ready to go. The plan was to run 5:40 miles, aiming for a 35:30 finishing time.
My natural environment is long distance – the marathon and half marathon are the distances I enjoy the most, and if I may, where I tend to excel. Looking at my spread of PBs with better times at longer distances and some comparatively poor times over shorter distances, I seem to not have a turn of top end speed, but can last the pace when it gets tougher and harder.
So finding myself on the start line for a race that is only four laps of the track is not my natural environment. Since moving to Leeds and ending my previously nomadic working lifestyle, running on a track has been more and more a part of my training pattern. But I didn’t think I’d find myself toeing the line on one.
Two things bought me to the race. Firstly, like most of the races I’ve done recently, it’s part of our club championship, so points were at stake for being the fastest Hyde Park Harrier from my division. Secondly, it was a chance to complete the ‘Goose Slam’, running PBs in a calendar year across the mile, 5K, 5 miles, 10K, 10 miles, half marathon and marathon. In my race calendar I have two more chances to better my 2015 10K PB, but this might be my last chance over the mile.