Saturday, October 20, 2012

Along the Lagan on a September afternoon

Spurred on by the Olympics and Paralympics, I had no time to rest after the Cookstown Half as I had entered my first 10km race of the year - Laganside 10km. My training mindset had to change over the next few weeks; 'long' runs had to be replaced by shorter, speedier sessions and I would need to factor in some hill repeats. The lead up to the 2nd September went smoothly and I felt confident I would be able to give a good account of myself.
Unlike the rest of the summer, the weather on the day was dry and warm and there was little wind. This resulted in quite a number of people registering on the day and took the number of entrants close to 700.
I tend to get quite nervous the hour before the start of a race, so I took myself off to a quiet part of the park to do some warming up and to run through my goals in my head. I wanted at least a course PB and if possible a sub-45 time. This meant, I needed to hit each km in four and a half minutes.
By the time I arrived at the start area, it was already very congested and I found myself much further back than usual. The starting gun sounded and within the first few minutes I realised for the first time, maybe starting at the back wasn't such a good idea. The first 2km and I was having to dodge slower runners, step up and down off kerbs and avoid clipping heels. It took 10 minutes to get into my race pace and already I was off my goal pace. I resolved not to panic and just keep focused on my stride and posture. As I headed over Queens Bridge, I felt I was back on track and the next few km's were very flat along the towpath. I was a little behind schedule at half-way and things started to go a little awry at this point too. The heat was really having an impact and sweat was dripping across my face and my contact lenses began to slip across my eyes, causing my vision to become blurred. Things didn't improve over the final 5km but I was able to shift my focus onto my pace and slowly but surely quicken up. As I reached the Ormeau Bridge for the final time, I knew that sub-45 was just out of my reach, my clock hit 42 minutes and I couldn't see myself running under 3 minutes for the last km. However, I still wanted a course PB, so I dug deep and ran as hard as I could to the entrance to the park and with a final sprint, crossed the line in around 46 minutes. This had been probably been my toughest 10km race but I had course PB (by 17 secs) under my belt as my official chip time was 45-41.
Although really pleased with my time, on reflection I could have probably have run a little quicker if I hadn't started so far at the back, my contact lenses had behaved themselves and maybe I could have trained at a slightly slower pace. What I will do, is learn from this and make sure I don't make the same mistakes come my next 10km, which will be the Seeley Cup in mid-November