As I lay awake last night between 2 and 4 I was planning this blog in my head. That, people, is called dedication to the cause. Or insomnia.
Yesterday evening I ran my first 10k road race here in Dumfries (the one in Scotland before anyone asks!) It was organised by the Dumfries Harriers, very well organised I have to say, and took us out of the town and around a local industrial estate before bringing us back in to complete a half lap of the track at the David Keswick Centre.
I was nervous and had joked all day that I was going to be last probably in an effort to buoy myself for disappointment if I was. I know all the sayings us runners bandy about (Finished Last > Did Not Finish > Did Not Start and the such like) but the truth is no one wants to be last. I didn’t, but I had looked at previous year’s results and knew that it was a distinct possibility. My PB for a 10k was 69 minutes. Some of the guys yesterday were discussing finishing their 10k in under 30 minutes. That’s just beyond my comprehension at the moment!
My husband and son and wee dog came along as supporters. We found people we knew which settled me down a bit before the start and on the start line I found someone young enough to be my daughter (and obviously vastly more experienced at racing) to chat to. I find that finding a friendly person to chat to just makes me calm down.
The start was announced by the drone of bagpipes and I set off with the advice of my good friend Paul ringing in my ears: “Go steady.” I had set off near the back because I didn’t want to be in anyone’s way, but I was soon overtaking runners. Running the Jeff Galloway Run:Walk system means I have a faster pace than those running right through, but then have to stop and walk for a bit. I tried to keep my pace to around 8.30 minute miles which, with my walk break, would come out at about an 11 minute mile. That, over 6 miles would be about 66 minutes, four minutes faster than my personal best on the road. Steady as she goes.
Embarrassingly I seemed to hit walk breaks whenever there was a steward nearby who immediately started encouraging me to run! I had to keep explaining what I was doing and, after I got a thumbs up of comprehension, I’d be away. The miles came easy, I have to say. I was running on a far flatter route than I am use to. These lucky town dwellers! However, my training had given me that extra bit of strength.
In front of me, rather annoyingly at times, were four Harriers running side by side. They took up the entire width of the road and I got the impression that the guy running with the three women was a trainer. Several times I caught up with them but couldn’t get round them without going all the way round them! Had I have overtaken them near the start I don’t think they would have caught me up before the finish as I was on their heels through the finish gate. Running in twos, yes. Running in fours, I think, is a bit of a no-no.
I was pleased to see that at the start I was running an overall pace of 10 minute miles. In the back of my head I wondered if I was pushing too hard, having all these people round me. I maybe slowed a little at mile 3, just wanting to finish well. Mile 3 came at 31 minutes. That was good and I was happy.
The stewards along the course were superb, as were the members of the public. Clapping and cheering the runners on even though it had started to drizzle and, by the time the back runners were going past, it was getting dark.
As I ran towards the stadium I caught sight of my husband and son with huge grins on their faces. They knew I was on for a PB and they shouted encouragements as I headed onto the track. In front of me, again, were the four Harriers. Tempted as I was to try and sprint past them on the straight, I held back. I just wanted to finish and, chances are, they would have sprinted as well. I finished feeling strong in 65:10, a full four minutes inside my PB. And I wasn’t last!! Result!!!
As I sit here typing I am wearing the excellent t-shirt I received as a finisher with Gallovidian Dumfries 10k 2011 emblazoned on the front. I am very proud of myself.
EDIT: My official time was 65:29 according to the Harrier’s website, but as I didn’t cross the start line until a smidge afterwards I’ll stick with my Runkeeper time!