This was my second 10k race and I think I was probably more nervous about this one than my first. I knew that I hadn't matched my "race" pace at any time in the few weeks since them, thanks to low blood iron and feeling pretty exhausted all the time. I felt happier on my last two runs but ended up limping for a few days after each one due to pain in my arches, particularly the right foot.
I ordered some gel inserts and they arrived on Friday so I've been trying them out in my everyday shoes and they seemed ok so today was my first try at running in them. I was prepared to stop and take them out if they weren't a success. Three hours before the race, my back hurt, my right leg was sore and I had an upset stomach (probably nerves). I took a painkiller and set off on the hour-long drive to Ellesmere.
My stomach felt better by the time we arrived (my mother had come along to support me!) so I found the toilets and the registration area. In the queue to collect my number and chip, I noticed that the numbers went up to 500, meaning this race had twice as many entries as my previous one. Number and chip collected and I went to pick up my goodie bag - this contained a race T-shirt, bottle of water, energy bar and a nice running-shoe design keyring (no chocolate medal though !), which I though was quite a generous goodie list considering the £10 entry fee.
I found some friends from running club and nervously awaited the start. It was nice to be wearing the club colours in a race for the first time (green and gold, just like Usain Bolt ;-)).
It felt quite crowded at the start and I found a place near the back so I wouldn't get trampled by the fast runners. Even so, it was crowded enough that I and many others had to start with a walk until the group broke up a little.
My arms and shoulders felt very uncomfortable to start with and I felt I was struggling a bit but I knew that I usually find my best pace at the middle of the run so I persevered, albeit with a few walk breaks. On my first 10k race I managed the first 4.5km without a walk break but that wasn't going to happen today. As I got to 3-4 km into the race I started to feel more comfortable and managed longer stretches. I noticed that my difficulty seems to be that I struggle to maintain a slow sustainable pace - I found it really uncomfortable trying to match the speed of some of the other runners but by running at a comfortable pace for me and then walking for a bit I was averaging pretty much the same pace.
I had a bit of banter going with a slightly older chap who kept passing me on my walk breaks but then I would pass him again when I ran again. As it turned out we stayed more or less together for most of the race. At one point, his wife was waiting with a bottle of water - he poured some over himself and then gave the rest to me. He told me just to drop it on the floor but I had to take a detour to find a bin. I haven't got it in me to drop litter !
As we got further along I was managing to run for longer, following just behind my new friend as a way of pacing myself. As we ran along the canal, this was quite comfortable but there were a few steep bridges to cross and I slowed to a walk on the downhill side of those as it was so steep, with the canal at the bottom of the slope ! I'd then speed up again and keep pace with my new running buddy. I was tired by now and appreciated the encouragement from the marshalls. I knew from looking at my Garmin that it was touch and go whether I'd match my previous 10k time so I was determined to keep jogging to the finish.
On the last stretch, I drew up next to my friend and said "I really don't think I've got a sprint left in me now". He pointed to the lady just ahead of us and said "Just see if you can pass her". I rose to the challenge and as I passed her she said "Oh, I can't manage to do that, I'll just be glad to finish". I felt quite encouraged and tried to keep a slightly faster pace. As I came round the last bend, I could see some running club friends cheering me on so I dug deep and tried to sprint. As I passed them, I heard someone say "That's a better finish than I could manage!" and felt quite proud and flattered. Then I crossed the line and a marshal removed my chip from my ankle as I gasped for breath and my mum passed me a bottle of water. I wanted to thank my running buddy for that last bit of encouragement but I couldn't find him afterwards, which was a shame.
I felt as if I'd struggled more than last time but when I remembered to stop my Garmin it said 1hour and 10minutes, a minute slower than last time but I had again forgotten to turn it off immediately as I finished so I'll have to wait for the official results. When I've compared the Garmin results for each race, it says my average pace was almost exactly the same. I'm quite happy with that - it was the best I'd expected (although, naturally, I hoped for more but knew it was unrealistic). I was also pleased with my new insoles - I haven't run with them before but I don't have any arch pain and that's a success in my book !
And it was fun - that's the main thing ! (the rain that was forecast failed to materialise too!)