Health & fitness · Uncategorized

Rockingham 10: The One With All The Wind

See? Windy.

So, Rockingham has been my target race for quite a while. I signed up in the summer, having never run more than 5k, with a PB of around 28 minutes. My aim when I signed up, was to have worked my way up to the 10k distance, and complete the race in under an hour.

Fast forward to race day and I found myself with a 5k PB of 24.24 (thanks Bedford Parkrun for your super flat & fast course!), and having run the distance half a dozen or so times in training, had a 10k PB of 53.40. Unfortunately, I also found myself rather injury-riddled. I couldn’t actually walk without pain, so racing probably wasn’t the wisest idea (as several people mentioned. Once or twice. Or fifty times. You know who you are…) but there was no way I was going to back out now. So my new aim became to finish in a respectable time. I told myself I would be happy around the 54 minute mark. I’m sure part of me believed it…

The main reason I was so determined to race, was that Rockingham was the setting for a big UKRunChat meetup. For the uninitiated, UKRunChat is the best online running community you could hope for. It didn’t take long before I met the delightfully delightful Katie from Cake vs Scales in the glamorous location of the ladies loos, where I also bumped into Shell from UKRunChat. Pleasant surprise of the day: I must actually look like my Twitter profile picture, judging by the number of people who recognised me. Surprising given that my photos are usually filtered beyond recognition…

Toilet chats over, it was off to register, exclaim at the biblical winds, wonder how we were going to run in said winds, and meet more UKRunChat folk. Highlights include meeting David, who has been a big source of running support over recent months; enjoying some excellent beard action courtesy of the UKRunCat; and the relief at finding out that race director Jason, didn’t ACTUALLY expect me to piggy-back him around the course. Phew. (Thanks for your support by the way, Jason – was great to have my own personal cheerleader! Still not happy about THAT photograph though…) Also, apologies Amanda for taking selfies during your race briefing…

Then it was off to the start line, where once I realised how small the 10k field was, I genuinely started to worry that I might finish last… Me and my running buddy Jodie, planned to run the race together and we got swept along with the speed of the start and clocked a fast first 4k. I felt reasonably strong at this point, and mentioned to Jodie that if we kept this up we would be on for a big PB. And then I turned the corner – literally and metaphorically. At around 4k, and approaching the pits for the end of the first lap, the wind hit like a brick wall and I really struggled to run against it. So much so that I thought I was going to be sick and genuinely thought I was going to have to give up. I somehow managed to push on, but at around 5k, Jodie surged ahead, looking incredibly strong and I just couldn’t keep up. At this stage I told myself to focus on a kilometre at a time and run my own race. I stopped clock-watching and just ran as fast as my legs would allow; which changed each time I turned a bend and the wind hit from a different direction. By the time I got to 8k, I was only focusing on 500m at a time, and trying not to think about anything other than keeping my legs moving. I love a sprint finish, so when we approached the finishing straight I kicked on (spurred on in no small part by the couple behind me who were quickly chasing me down!), but misjudged the distance left to the finish line and didn’t have enough in me to maintain my sprint to the end.

Finish line crossed. Expletive uttered. Garmin stopped at 54.04.

A while later I realised that I had run a distance of 10.18k (I didn’t follow the racing line all the way through and ran it wide in places) and that I had actually clocked a 10k PB of 53.16. I finished as 14th female out of 76 and 3rd in my age category.

I had a brilliant day; it really was a fabulous event and so lovely to meet so many UKRunChat folk – and on paper I achieved a good result – but four days later, I still haven’t been able to shake a nagging sense of disappointment about my performance. I’m annoyed at how much the wind took the strength out of my legs, and feel that I could and should have run it much faster.

My plan going forwards is to work on my leg strength – I tend to neglect leg work in favour of upper body stuff, but I think my lack of leg strength is the thing holding my running back most at the moment. I need to figure out how to tie this into my half marathon training, so plenty of research to be done.

I also plan to work on my perception of my body. I’ve struggled a lot this week with the thought that my body has let me down, and that it isn’t as strong as I thought it was. So much of my self esteem hinges on how my body looks and performs, and I need to learn to be kinder on myself. Something tells me that this is going to be a work in progress for some time…

Thank you Rockingham; you were great. I’ll be back next year, hopefully stronger and smashing a sub-50 10k!

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