A Season Finale Cliffhanger

December 15, 2012

Last weekend I completed my final race of 2012, the reportedly very fast Andy Reading 10k in Chesterton near Bicester.   I believe that I’ve spent significant periods of 2012 in shape to run a aub 40 minute 10k, but never managed to squeeze in a race over that distance when in peak condition.  In fact, my PB of 40:27 dates back to early 2011. This time round I was certainly not at my absolute best but hoped I could lower my PB at least.

To set some context, following the marathon I eased back on my training and then six weeks ago I picked up a nasty stomach bug. Following two weeks off running completely, I got back on it. Two weeks later I ran the After Adoption 10k in Regent’s Park in a painful 40:57. Andy Reading was just three weeks after that.  So, five weeks serious training, and three weeks on from a 40:57, what could I do?  Also, I should add, that despite training moderately hard (4 or 5 runs per week) I managed to put on 6 pounds in weight over the few weeks prior to the race, at least partly due to an enthusiastic and somewhat premature start to the festive party season!

The race itself is astonishing. I have never taken part in an event with such strength in depth in the field.  At the After Adoption 10k approximately 2% of runners broke 40 minutes.  At the competitive Regent’s Park summer series events, typically 6% or 7% dip under the same marker. At the Andy Reading event 19% of entrants ran under 40 minutes!

As I arrived at the event with Mrs Colin and baby Elsie, nice and early as ever, it soon became apparent that the weather was not going to be kind. It was dry, the temperature was fine, but it was very windy. The field was dominated by runners from local clubs. I felt a bit of a fraud warming up by myself surrounded by teams of club runners being carefully prepared by their coaches! The race HQ is at the Bicester Sports Association which meant indoor facilities for changing and piping hot showers afterwards.

The start was a little chaotic, but no harm was done and as the gun went off I tried to stay calm as runners flew past me on both sides! My GPS watch told me that, if anything, I was going a touch too fast, so I just had to let them go. The first mile through the village of Chesterton was fine, and although miles 2 and 3 were into the wind we were primarily running on a tree lined road so we had some protection.  I was through half way in pretty much exactly 20 minutes. The next section was on a hideous disused airfield (do not choose this race for the scenery) and with the wind behind me I felt strong through mile 4. Unsurprisingly, this was my quickest mile of the race. Then, mile 5, into the wind in the exposed airfield.  As ever this felt like someone was pushing me backwards and I shipped a good few seconds. You can see from my splits where things went wrong.

I am acutely aware that my GPS watch is not accurate enough to tell me how I am doing to within a few metres, so after 5 miles on the watch, I really didn’t know if the PB was on, or maybe even the 40 minute mark. So, I gritted my teeth and bashed out as hard a mile 6 as I could, then unleashed everything I had in the final few hundred metres. I glanced at my watch with the finish line in sight and realised 40 minutes was going to slip away from me. My time in the end: 40 minutes and 7 seconds. A thoroughly humbling 83rd place out of 424 runners. On my GPS watch, I was through the 10k mark in 39:49, but I know that is both wrong and irrelevant!

So, a PB by 20 seconds. I can’t be too disconsolate with that, but so close to the big landmark.  As I finished I was confident I simply could not have given any more. I was absolutely spent. Given the conditions, given my less than perfect preparation and given the fact that I was also carrying a bit of a cold, I know I can break 40 minutes next year. In a way, it’s nice to finish the year with such an obvious target in my sights. Like a season ending cliffhanger…


2 Responses to “A Season Finale Cliffhanger”

  1. […] every time I ran between 40 and 41 minutes. The quickest of the four was an agonising 40:07 at the Andy Reading 10k in Bicester in December. I’m chuffed that running under 41 minutes for 10k has become close to routine […]

  2. […] given that I’ve broken 41 minutes no fewer than four times including a PB of 40:07 last December, this should be a piece of cake, right? Well, not exactly. I spent a lot of last year in very, very […]

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