Following a prolonged period of time off racing, I decided to return with a new distance- the 10 miler.
The Course: 10 miles of beautiful if not hilly Surrey countryside. I didn’t even really know the course until my fellow City Runners gave me the lowdown. I’d decided ignorance was bliss.
The Goal: As always, I gave myself 3 separate goals:
- Plan A: PB! This was my first ever 10 mile race though, so that was pretty much guaranteed.
- Plan B: Get back into the routine of racing and get over the weird mental block I’d had since the marathon.
- Plan C: Enjoy the day with my athletics club and not show us up too badly.
This race involved a pretty early start, getting up at 5.30 in order to get to our meeting point in Central London, where we’d then get a mini bus out to Dorset. This was all a bit manic for me the night before as I hadn’t realised that there weren’t any trains that early on Sunday mornings. Despite a sleepless night and many a panic, I managed to get my bus on time, eating my pre-race PB and banana on toast on a bus surrounded by loud, fun, revellers still up from the night before. I made it to the meeting point, ordered a large coffee and got on the bus with a whole bunch of very sleepy City Runners.
Once we arrived in Dorking (a bit late, due to the driver getting lost), I got changed whilst queueing for the loo- no modesty here- and we all managed to make it to the start with time to spare. I jogged, stretched and, most importantly, did my glute bridges, and then off we went!
There was a relatively small field at the race, and it was a healthy mix of friendly and competitive. I resisted the urge to go out too fast and stuck to my sub-90 pace. I wasn’t looking for miracles here! It was an undulating course, and whilst I relished the hills, I actually found myself getting rather bored during the straights. My legs were a bit achey, but that wasn’t it- just a general sense of “I can’t really be bothered to do this”.
But nonetheless I persevered and began ticking the miles off. During a particularly dull flat, straight stretch of road, I heard another runner catch up to me, from the Clapham Chasers. We were running an almost identical pace, and we’d been passing each other for a while. And so we paced together- keeping each other occupied on the easier stretches, and getting our heads down for the challenging hills. With a similar gait and time goal, it made sense for us to pace together, and it certainly made the hot miles go by much more quickly!
The hills got much tougher towards the end of the race, but even after doing a two-lap-ish course,I was feeling strong as we hit the final downhill. Except that’s the thing- it wasn’t. We still had a bonus surprise hill to go! We made it to the top of that one, where we were greeted by a Chaser, who’d come to push my pace buddy through the home stretch. I stayed with them for about half a mile, before completely losing my shit because they were hitting a pace that I physically (and mentally) couldn’t handle.
It was a very hot day and, it turns out, I’m an exceptionally salty sweater. Thankfully, one of our City Runners crew had brought electrolytes and very kindly gave me some. We stuck around for the medal ceremony, as several members of our team had placed, and I was very proud! We jangled all the way home on the bus to London, full of beans and proud of our achievements. I then went home and chilled out- a mix of keeping active, pottering around my flat, and lying down to watch TV. I vaguely remember doing some stretching, and I made sure to get an early night.
What I learnt this time:
- 10 miles may actually be my new favourite race distance
- Literally no-one else cares about my pace or finishing time!
- I need to find a way to keep myself occupied (and fast) on duller, flat sections
- Sweet treats at the finish line make a huge difference
Have you ever taken a break from racing?
How’s your training going at the moment?
Lots of love,