With the dawning realisation that it was almost one full year since my last 10k race I decided to sign up for the Stirling 10k about a month ago and put that to rights. With my last 10k race being the Stirling 10k in 2015, it seemed quite fitting. I had of course signed up for the Edinburgh Men’s Health 10k last year only to have to pull out through illness at the last moment; I have no excuse however for not signing up for another race in the intervening months, that, we’ll put down to laziness.
With about three or four weeks to get in shape for the race I challenged myself to up my weekly mileage and get running more often. Challenge accepted and met as I took to the road and began putting the miles in, I even managed to squeeze in a run round Oslo whilst there for a friend’s wedding; rather unhelpfully right in the middle of my training ;-).
I also began mixing my training up a bit trying to include some hill runs – although there are no hills to speak of in the Stirling 10k – and fartlek interval training (thanks to Robert from Run4It Bridge of Allan for that) to help increase my speed and stamina. Also, I wanted a Personal Best time for my –ahem- long awaited comeback.
Without knowing it, something had been missing from my life over the last few months. As I waited impatiently for my girlfriend and daughter to get ready to leave the house and go to the race venue I began to remember what that something was. Standing amongst the throng of follower runners waiting for the starting klaxon it hit me, THIS is what I’ve missed. I might not be the fastest athlete in the world but the thrill and excitement of being part of the race was something I’d missed. Know it was back. I was back, and I couldn’t wait to get started.
The weather for the race was pretty decent, overcast and muggy but dry and with a welcome cooling breeze. I felt good about the race. Unfortunately, I was a bit late getting to the starting point and therefore started near the back of the mass crowd of runners. This meant it took me about 30 seconds to cross the start line after the klaxon had sounded, worse still I managed to get boxed in behind a few seriously slow runners for the first 500m or so which cost me a bit of time and energy.
Once I managed to get away from them I found the next couple of kilometres quite easy going and seemed to be finding my groove well enough.
About 3.5km in however, I hit a wall – not literally, although that might explain a few things! – and began to slow down badly. My breathing was heavy and laboured and my legs didn’t want to carry me. This was not part of the plan.
But being the trooper that I am I soldiered on as there was no way I wasn’t going to finish the race. I’ve had experiences like this in training before when I’ve felt great and then hit the wall, the trick for me has always been to push through it as sooner or later everything ends up clicking into place again. This happened somewhere around the 5 km mark on this occasion. The route loops back on itself at this point and a couple of friends who were also running passed me; my motivation to beat the wall was to catch them. I managed to catch and pass one however the other was just too far in front.
After finding my second wind the rest of the run was fairly comfortable. I’d ran the course last year so was able to identify different points on the route and could use self-talk to encourage me to keep moving forward towards the next landmark.
I hadn’t been keeping an eye on my time so had no idea how fast, or slow, I’d run as I hit the 9km mark and began the final leg of the race. I’d spent km’s 3-6 pretty much going backwards it seemed but had made up for it since then by catching and passing quite a few fellow runners and was feeling good about things again – the thought of nice cold pint and a burger after the race had nothing to do with that, honest.
As I made the second last turn into The Peak Sports Village I saw my girlfriend and daughter waiting to cheer me on. I’d been promised a loud “C’mon Daddy!” and waited all race to hear it. Seeing them both there standing to cheer me on gave me an extra burst of energy and I sprinted the last few hundred metres over the line, passing one last runner on the way. FINISHED!!!
I spotted my friend John and went to congratulate him on being the one who got away from me before getting a nice big hug and kiss from Zsuzsi and Hazel. Unfortunately I hadn’t set my stop watch properly so it didn’t record my time and I didn’t even look at the course clock as I crossed the line, so the wait to find out my race time continued. My Strava App did work, however, I’m not sure that the GPS on it was 100% accurate.
In any case I was able to get my time online quite soon after the race as I waited for a much needed post race massage from the guys at LifeFit Wellness, and found out that I’d completed the course in 55:29; a new Personal Best!! (Although it was slightly slower than I wanted).
As for my post run pint, I had to wait until the evening and after a trip to the park before I got that. And the post race burger, that never happened either; Hunter’s chicken did happen and did not last long.