My previous 10K PB was set on my last 10K race at the Men's Health race at Bellahouston Park back in June, with a time of 51 minutes 23 seconds. With my 5K time now down to 21 minutes 31 seconds I knew that the PB was set to fall over the longer distance. My longer distance races have been consistent and I have even managed to run sub 50 minutes for the first 10K of my last two half-marathon's. I didn't want to get over confident as I knew the route well and Strathaven is well known for its hills and undulating roads, making it popular amongst runners and cyclists from around Scotland.
I met up with training buddies John and Moira and had a few friendly chats with some familiar faces in the running circuit. We were all bused out to the start line at Whitelee wind farm, a convoy of around 8 coaches. I felt as though I was sitting up the back of the school bus on my way to a field trip!
I had heard about the mass exit of the buses and the line of runners taking the opporunity to have one last toilet stop, but nothing prepares you for seeing hundreds of male runners all facing the trees, equal numbers of female runners heading out in front of the 'firing line' and deep into the trees for some warm up 'squating'.
I took my position at the start line and we were set on our way. It was a bit of a squeeze at the start with the narrow road trying to accommodate the 400+ runners who turned up for the event. After a few minutes of weaving and dodging both John and I managed to find a clear patch and quickly found our tempo. I ran the first kilometre in around 5 minutes 12 seconds, not a bad start considering the packed start. I shouted to John that we were on target. The plan was to run the first 5KM in 25 minutes then the next 5KM in 20 minutes, bring me in around the 45 minute mark. This would be a huge PB and a time that I never thought I would achieve thinking back to my first ever race, a 10K in October 2009 when I was happy to complete the race in 1 hour.
I think the problem for me started when I could feel myself increasing my pace, trying to claw back the 12 seconds that we had lost in the first kilometre. We sailed passed David Arthur, a regular at my jogscotland group. I felt good and was comfortable with the 4.15 per kilometre pace that I found myself running for the next 2K. It was good to see fellow parkrunner and Motherwell AC member Andrew Scott out on the route taking a few photo's of the event.
photo by Andrew Scott
John was running strong and had soon took a lead with a gap steadily increasing. I knew that he was no longer sticking to the plan and as we had just had a conversation about his 10K PB I guessed he must have been giving up his pacing duties for a PB attempt. I let him go on but tried to keep the pace. The route had been mainly downhill from the start but coming up to the 5KM mark that soon changed and everything was uphill from here. These were the roads I trained on when I first started running, driving out to a rural starting point, running out for a single mile then running back to the car. It was great to be back out here and running solo in the race it gave me time to reflect back on how far my running has came in the last couple of years, more so in the last 6 months.
It was a long and endless hill, seeming to go on a lot longer than I remember. Plenty of undulation within the incline my pace was beginning to fluctuate and on a couple of occasions looking at my Garmin my pace was dropping to 5.15 per kilometre. Making a hard effort to try and keep the speed up I was soon overtaken by David Arthur who gave away his secret to a successful run, less layers! I had came out on the cold November morning with my base layer on under my running T-shirt along with my running leggings, gloves and hat. This was all comfortable about 7KM ago when we were back up at the ice cold heights of the wind farm but 30 minutes into a race, I just wanted to burst out of all these layers!
I had tackled the long hill and knew there was a short incline before heading back down Lethame Road and into Kirkland Park for the finishing straight. Gillian Scott managed to capture me once again looking a little bit tired to say the least!
photo by Gillian Scott
The final kilometre was all downhill before a slippery stretch on the path leading into Kirkland Park for a cross country finish. John was already at the sidelines shouting his words of encouragement. My mother and father in law had also came out the cheer me across the line. I finished with a time of 46 minutes 57 seconds, smashing my previous PB by around 4 minutes yet still feeling disappointed.
This is the first time I have ever felt disappointed after a race. Even though I got a huge PB and really enjoyed the run, I know that if I had approached things a bit differently during the race I may have performed better. The Striders 10K has been a learning curve for me, its taught me that pace is everything in a race. It doesn't matter how many hours or miles training you put in, if you don't get your pace right on the day it can all go out the window! I have took more out of this race than any other, I am realising now just how technical running really is, it can be mentally as well as physically draining. Trying to hold your body back in those first few kilometres is very hard when you have that spring in your step.
Thanks to all the Strathaven Striders, volunteers, organisers and sponsors who made this event happen! See you all next year....