As I sit here writing this blog, I am reflecting on a very successful Dewsbury 10k and feeling the pain in my legs which is a constant reminder of how much effort I did put into the race.
The Dewsbury 10k is a flat and fast course. This in running terms at least translates into a gentle incline for the first 5k, followed by a gentle decline for the next 5k back towards the start/finish. Although it is flat it doesn’t mean it is easy to run. As I have learnt in my short time running, many of these terms can have a slightly different meaning in running circles and lull the new runner into a false sense of security. Flat and fast, as I now know means the incline cancels out the decline so overall it’s flat and it’s fast on the decline section!
A chilly but still and clear winters day greeted around 1,300 runners and this made it perfect conditions for running and going for a Personal Best (PB) over 10k. As we gathered at the start waiting for the announcer to finish his talk which was threatening to be even longer than the race would take for many, I ran through my race plan, remembering what the other, more experienced runners at my club, Queensbury, had told me.
Steady over the first 5k then go for it. Race against yourself and not other people, don’t try and keep up with someone who you think you should be faster than. You don’t know them or their running background. Listen to your body and save enough for the end and countless others I’ve forgotten. But most importantly I went into the race with a vague plan in my head of what I was going to and when!
So for the first 5k I took it steady, let people pass me and did my own thing. I knew to be in with a chance of getting under the magical hour mark I would need to turn around in under 30 minutes and then go for it and hope I had enough pace and energy to push myself under the hour.
After what seemed an age and the constant thought ‘I’m never doing this again’ whirling around my mind I turned around at the 5k mark in under 30 minutes. This gave me the boost I needed to believe I could achieve my goal and I immediately upped my pace and set off back down the slight decline.
The second 5k was much more enjoyable than the first. I felt good going at pace and was soon passing people who had passed me on the incline. I kept checking my watch to make sure I was going at the pace I needed to. At times I was going too slow so speeded up and at the end of the 5th mile I was well on target to achieve my goal.
The last mile hurt and I had to dig deep to keep up a pace that would see me go under the hour. It would have been easy to ease up and aim to just get under the hour. But that to me, would have made the run meaningless and I’ve seen the agony on other runners faces as they give it everything they have, only to have it snatched away at the last minute, by a second sometimes. And I’ve been in similar situations myself and didn’t want to be in another thinking of what went wrong, where I could have done more, what might have been.
So this time I kept going, kept pushing until the end, went through the pain barrier time and time again because my goal was there in front of me and the only person who could stop me achieving that goal was me.
And I did it. My official chip time came through at 57:40. And all of a sudden the pain in your legs, the long runs in wind and rain, up hill and down dale, the memories of close misses from before are all worth it for that one moment when you have achieved what you set out to do and before you readjust your sights on your next goal in life and set about achieving it.