Monday, September 8, 2008
The official results are now up so I can now give the full report of the race since I now know what my exact time was, and not just the rough guide I had from seeing a clock when crossing the line.
Saturday started off as planned, a 7am jog to wake me up before chilling at home for a few hours until the race. The conditions when I woke were shocking and I was completely drenched in the 20 minutes I was out of the house. There was also a fairly strong wind belting about the place which left me suitably unimpressed. To make matters I could feel the beginnings of a cold in my throat which was worse than it had been the night before. All factors I could do nothing about so I just had to get on with it. I quipped on the way to the race that as the throat wasn't going to do my energy levels any favours I'd have to run faster and be finished before I got tired.
I warmed up out and back along the race route to give me an idea of the conditions and the route. The rain was dying off but the wind was going nowhere. I can't say I felt great or 100% confident about the race beforehand but I was there now and going to have to see how things went.
The race started off slow. Some of the lads afterwards called it 'pedestrian', I prefer to say 'ideal'. I got to tuck in nicely to the back of the lead pack and get pulled along at a leisurely pace. This was ideal as the race started into the wind, and I didn't have to work as hard as I would've if I they belted off, leaving me to run on my own. At the 1km mark the first injection of pace came into the pack. I stayed at the tail and upped my pace but not to the level of the lead guys. By 2km I was on the shoulder of the guy in 8th position and running strongly, probably letting him do most of the work. As I felt strong I upped the pace for the next kilometre, shaking him off and even though I didn't look behind at any stage I could tell there was a bit of a gap. From here I was running by myself as the nearest guy too me was probably 20-30 metres ahead and I wasn't closing that gap.
As we turned at 3km (the last marker on the course!) I got the first fear that I was going at too fast a pace. I felt like I was at 5km pace but I wasn't tiring. All I knew was that I was going as fast as my legs would allow me to go, every stride was strong but there was no way I could be going any faster. The fear was that at this pace I would eventually blow up. All the same I stayed focused on the guy ahead of me and just kept digging in. As soon as I'd make 5 metres on him, he'd build up the 5 metres again.
One lap down and I was feeling good. My legs were strong and I played on this strength in my head. I convinced myself that all the laps on the hills in training had made me a stronger runner than the lad a head of me and that I would catch him. What I was basing this on I have no idea as clearly he'd be doing a fair whack of training and all! It didn't matter though, I was convinced of it.
As I'd no watch on the fact that there were no distance markings past 3km didn't really matter too much. They also told us at the start that the ones that were out weren't accurate, they were just a guideline. I'd still have loved to have seen one at 8km or 9km just to let me know that I should really start to dig in. When I passed the 2km marker for the second time I decided to dig in again there as it worked well on the first lap. It appeared to work on the second lap too as I'd closed the gap on the guy ahead by the 3km marker. Over the next few hundred metres I caught up with him completely and got onto his shoulder. I was trying to decide whether to let him pull me along for a bit or to go on. Typically there was a slight climb a head so not the best place to pass someone. As I contemplated it he glanced to the right at me and I knew I had to move on. Foot down and I headed for home. I could hear him initially try to stay with me but shortly afterwards I knew I was clear of him. 6km of chasing and finally I got him. The next guy in 6th was in sight but there was no chance of making up that distance. My personal race was won, now all I had to do was finish out the actual race.
Coming up the last climb into the wind before I turned onto the finishing straight was the hardest bit of the race. I must have missed a breath with the wind in my face because as I turned I was completely out of breath and took a while to regain my composure. Once I got it back I just put the head down and dug in for the last couple of hundred metres. Over the last few minutes I'd been getting by by thinking how this was by far and away the best race I'd ever run so I wasn't going to slow down now. Every stride for the last 10km had been purposeful and I hadn't coasted through. I wasn't in pain but I was running at my limit. This was racing.
As the finish line came into view I could partially see the clock. There was someone standing in front of it but I could see the seconds rolling over... 14, 15, 16... As I was getting closer it was running through my head that I was about to get a 20 second PB. The way I felt through the race I knew there was no way it wasn't going to be a PB. Considering the conditions I'd run in I was happy with them 20 seconds. Just as I passed the clock I saw the minutes. 34... Thirty Four!! I couldn't believe it. I'd love to see the way my face changed on seeing this. I remember just pumping my fists and a huge smile came to my face. I'd just knocked 1 minute and 20 seconds from my the time I set in April.... and it was windy as hell!
The official time says 34:25, which is 1 minute and 15 seconds better than the 35:40 I ran in London this year. My pace works out at 5:32 minute miles which means that not only did I beat my 10k time but I would have beat my 5 mile PB as well. My pace for my 5 mile PB, also ran this year, is 5:42 minute miles. Needless to say I'm quite happy with how this went. What makes it even better is that I know there's more to come. There was nothing else I could have given on Saturday but this is definitely the start of a new level of running for me. As my coach said to me last night, the magic 33 is next!