The 10km test that became a PB

My running coach sprung the Victoria Park 10km race on me on Monday, giving me just enough time to get nervous but not to put any specific training in. It was designed as a marker for 2017: to see where I’m currently at and where I could potentially go as the year moves on. All I saw was YAY RACE ? and OH NO, 10KM RACE ?

I hate 10km races. I think it’s a vile distance: too long to be over and done with quickly, but not long enough to settle and get some satisfaction out of running long. I also don’t really have a ’10km pace’ – in the past I’ve always run the first 5km at 5km pace (typically setting a new 5km PB), and then died over the second half because I have nothing left to keep pushing through.

But I was determined that that wouldn’t happen today. I wasn’t expecting any PBs given that I hadn’t had much mental prep time, but I did want to run sub-45mins. This meant maintaining a pace of 4:30/km, and aiming for even 22:30/5km splits. There would be no 5km PB first-half today, I would make sure of it.

The Victoria Park 10km by the Race Organiser is a flat, 3-lap course with a 500m tail to the start/finish. I must applaud them for a well-organised event: there were plenty of marshals on the course, water at every lap, and a nice goody-bag + medal afterwards. I even enjoyed the 3 laps, as I quickly learned exactly where the kilometre markers were positioned and could use them to keep me moving forwards.

I positioned myself towards the front of the start pack hoping to vibe off the speed of people around me to get me into a good pace. Did have a minor heart attack when a guy a few rows back started talking about running a sub-37min… um what? He fairly quickly overtook me, as did a few other women, but after a speedy 4:07 first kilometre I settled into a nicer ~4:20 pace.

Sye had agreed to come and cheer me along, and was already there waiting just after 2km even though I had only expected him to arrive on my second lap. Brilliant! It’s so great to have someone there supporting you, especially when he takes awesome photos ?

Lap two and I was still going strong. There was a slight incline just after the 7km/4km/1km markers which was tougher to push up than on the previous lap, and I knew would be even worse come lap 3. A little way down the road though I had the nice surprise of seeing Alice and Ben running in the opposite direction on their Sunday long run, and just about managed to yell out their names & wave before we had passed each other.

Came through 5km in ~21:30, so knew I had a minute in hand for my 45minute goal. I just needed to keep pushing now and try not to lose the pace I had built up. I was also starting to get warm and wanted to discard my gloves, but decided to keep them on until the 3rd time I saw Sye.

4:25, 4:19, 4:26, 4:21 – my pacing was looking pretty consistent and the PB throughts start to creep in. 3km to go, then 2km – except that the 8km marker was actually some ~300m too early. Not a problem, I had noticed this on the previous laps. Keep pushing, keep pushing. Pull off gloves. Indicate to Sye that I was going to give them to him. Tell runners on left that shortly an object would fly past their faces. Sye manages to cut through the runners to stand on my right so no throwing necessary. Palm off gloves to him & receive “good luck, keep going” in return. Just over a mile to go. Turn corner. Push. Push. Push.

With 1km left I see my watch says 38:45 – a whole 4:57 in which to run 1km and still beat my PB. SHIT. THIS IS HAPPENING. Finish the 3rd lap and turn left into the last 500m of finish straight as the marshal says “Don’t let him catch you! Keep going!”, and then in the next breath: “Go get her!” to the guy behind. I don’t care about men beating me though, I will let him outsprint me in these last 500m, and even say congrats as he passes. I can see the finish arch stretching ahead, getting closer with every step. Then finally thankfully it is close enough to break into a sprint and zoom past one final person to the finish line, arms raised. The announcer yells “well done, top 10 female!”.

43:08 on the watch. 43:12 on the clock, but official 43:05 net time. A new PB by 38 seconds, and 10th female! Incredible – and totally unexpected. It seems like the best races do tend to come when you least expect them.

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