The St Oswald’s Ultra is in three weeks yesterday and the plan for the last few weeks looked like this:
- Hawick 10k (full out PR seeking race effort)
- Highland Perthshire Marathon (steady run not racing - 3:00-3:15)
- Race week
Back to work this week, shocking.
On Tuesday I stumbled along to a track session possibly somewhat the worse for wear from the Sunday’s 50k. Other than being shot by a phantom in the back of the knee causing me to skip out on one rep I got through the session. Really not sure why that happened, I think it’s just tightness in the hamstring combined with probably not the best shoes for running quick, happened before 3k into a parkrun and again eased off in a few minutes.
Oh and I say get through, the session was something like 2k/mile/…./400 reps at increasing pace. Well I felt strong with the longer reps but didn’t really manage to pick up the pace as the distance went down, quelle surprise.
Given that I wanted to give a good race effort for the 10k on Sunday, I wasn’t going to do a Thursday session. Well maybe an easy session wouldn’t hurt…. As usual I gave into temptation and tagged along with the fastest group, so that was 6 * 2:30 hard efforts.
Saturday at parkrun was a nice but windy morning. As I wanted to take it easy but get the legs moving I said on the start line “19 minutes”. Looked at my watch on the finish line, 19:00. (Officially 18:59, never mind.)
The progression of my 10k PBs is as follows:
- 39:46 (8/2007, Edinburgh/Scottish Gas)
- 38:55 (8/2007, Forth Bridge)
- 36:47 (8/2012, Edinburgh/Scottish Gas)
- 36:32 (8/2012, Forth Bridge)
- 36:27 (5/2014, Penicuik)
My 10k PB has been soft for a while. I failed to make a dent last year, and then at Penicuik I barely knocked a few seconds off on a tough course after just coming back from injury, a little tender and not quite on form. Not only that, my average pace in the Inverness Half Marathon this spring was a good bit quicker - 35:30.
Today I had a goal in mind, 35:00. That’s a nice round 3:30/km pace. I hoped to set off at that and see if I push hard could I keep it up.
We arrived at Hawick on a gloriously sunny day in about perfect time to warm up and be ready without waiting around. It’s a two lap course and soon we were off for round one. Initially it felt easy and I started to worry I might be setting off a little quick; soon I found myself midway between a pack of most of the guys who were faster than me ahead, and whatever was behind. So that was to be it, and I tried to hold a steady pace without easy off or getting too crazy.
Not much to tell off the first loop, it’s a nice course, flat apart from one sharp hill (and a very short deceptive bump by the turn into town). Nice and scenic along the river as if sightseeing is a priority when racing. Only thing is a bit of a chokepoint by the bridge back across the river - first a gate/gap in a wall, with a sharp corner followed by a narrow bridge then turn around a tree. Very thankful to have previewed it before running (thanks Bryan!), it actually proved very runnable as I finished the first lap.
So the two lap course fit my 10k racing mindset - try to run the right sort of pace for the first lap, and then just push hard for the remainder. Once the wee hill was done for, I was just pushing it on a basically downhill and flat run back into town and seeing who I could catch.
As always it seems to last forever, but the mile before the last mile is hard work, and then only a mile to endure… I was pushing quite hard, but there came a point where there was someone in reach ahead of me, and I had to ask a question of myself - do I want to try to pretend I can catch this guy to make me run a little harder to the end, or can I actually commit and run hard enough to really catch him.
Well I did pass and then it was the turn for the bridge again. A slower runner to pass before the gate, and then…some people on the bridge? No worry, surely the marshalls at both ends of the bridge would ask them to move to the side? No, someone with a small child on one side and a buggy taking up the entire width of the bridge, as runners approach, and the marshalls just standing watching…
So less than 100 metres from the end of the 10k, having just drawn on reserves I didn’t know I had to pass someone I’m turning the corner and shouting “Excuse me” at the top of my voice. Fortunately they were less clueless than many pedestrians and actually heard and moved over, but really, why does the rule for many races seem to be to find the most important point on the course (in this case the obvious choke point, usually just the least obvious turn) and assign the least experienced marshall who doesn’t understand running or their role. Another clubmate found he was dealing with someone taking up the entire bridge with multiple dogs, there may be an issue with the course route but really in this case someone could easily have been hurt.
Onto the grass for the final sprint and I didn’t want to have to look to see if I was in danger of being re-passed. A final sprint for the line and I looked down at my watch to see 35:00 - perfection!
Much as I intended to try to run 3:30 kms, I wasn’t really running off my watch in the race, and I must have been behind the pace at one point, because I was running pretty quick towards the end - noticed my watch reading 3:00/km at one point. Seems like running by feel worked pretty good again!
Official time: 34:59.
Couple of good sessions, and a 10k time I’m over the moon with. Week totals about 135k for the shortest week in a good while, and I’m happy.