Those who know me best know that I like to run. It’s a great way to keep fit and relax. Not relax physically, but mentally. All the stresses and strains of life are forgotten as you completely focus on putting one foot in front of the other. Even on a training run I set myself a goal. For example, to do all or part of a particular route at a specific pace. It doesn’t really matter if I achieve this or not, it just adds some motivation, and if I achieve it, some additional peace of mind.
So it was with some trepidation that I lined up last Saturday in Richmond Park, London for a 10 kilometer race. It was only my second 10 km race in 15+ years. Whilst I’ve always run, life had the habit of getting in the way. In my early 40’s a knee injury required surgery. On getting back to something approaching fitness, the other knee required surgery. Then came marriage and a whole new chapter in my life.
In my 20’s and 30’s I was a regular race participant. Whilst I have run marathons, my best distances were 10 km and half marathons. My personal bests were just over 40 minutes and 1 hour 36 minutes respectfully. It’s always irked me that I never quite managed a sub-40 minutes 10 km.
These days of course I have to accept I never will reach those times, but just what can I expect? Three years ago I ran a 10 km race in London. I hadn’t run the full distance in training, but was confident that wouldn’t be a problem. I set myself a target of sub one hour, but hoped for something nearer 55 minutes. In the event I achieved 56 minutes 02 seconds. I was tired, but happy with that performance.
Back in Richmond last Saturday I’d regularly run up to 18 km prior to the race, so distance was no problem. I also knew I was a lot fitter and stronger than three years ago. My training times seemed to suggest a sub-55 minute time was within my grasp. Yes I’d be disappointed if I didn’t knock off a minute from my previous official time.
The race was over a two lap 5 km course. It was a cold and windy day. I don’t mind the cold. I don’t particularly mind wind, unless it is gusting. I do mind hail though! That’s no fun running in. We headed out over the park for the first two kilometers, then we swung around for a two kilometer stretch into the wind. I felt good though as I plodded on occasionally checking my pace on my watch.
At the half way stage I was bang on target for a sub-55 minute 10 km finish. I’d always planned to push on in the second half of the race. I just wasn’t entirely sure when that would start, thinking I’d see how I felt. It They say sporting results are more about the mind than the body. So it proved this day. On starting the second lap, I pushed on in confidence of the terrain that was to follow. my kilometer split times show that I got faster and faster as I went. Even the last two kilometers where the head wind got really strong and gusty didn’t seem to affect me. In fact it made me grit my teeth and go for it. Sub five minute kilometers. What was I thinking about?
In the end my official finish time was 52 minutes 32 seconds. I really should be happy with that. After all I finished in 113th position out of 500 runners, and second in my age category. But part of me wonders what I could have achieved if I’d have pushed myself harder. What if I’d started my push for home at the 4 km marker rather than the 5? What if I’d run those last two kilometers a little faster? Could I have knocked off another two and a half minutes and got near a sub 50 minutes 10k km?
Maybe I’m getting a little ahead of myself, but it gives me another target to aspire to. I’ll let you know how I get on.