On Wednesday evening, my dad and I walked leisurely up to Clapham Common (which will now forever be known as “My first 10k destination”). If you haven’t already guessed by the title and the previous sentence, that evening I was setting out to compete in my first ever official 10k race! Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect! I had never raced further than 3 miles before (unless you count parkrun which is often done at race pace but even so, that is only half the distance) so I wasn’t really sure how I would handle the situation. I had done 10k plus during previous training runs and they were some of what I register as being my best ever training runs so I had always wanted to do a proper race. However, we discovered that very few 10ks allow juniors to run. After a lot of digging around, we found that RunThrough UK accepts anyone who is 13+ (great for me because I am now 13!). For those of you who are unaware, RunThrough Uk (www.runthrough.co.uk) organises lots of different running events in a variety of locations. They are very regular so there is almost always a possible race available for you to do and they accommodate to people of all abilities. I would really like to thank RunThrough for giving me such a great opportunity and all the work that they do.
Right. Now onto the race.
We arrived at the park an hour before our race. Surprisingly, it was already busy! I knew that there was to be a 5k race before ours but I guessed that the majority of the people would be in my race. We registered, collected our numbers and time chips and attached them where suitable. Funnily enough, I really wasn’t nervous! Usually at this point before a club or school race, I would be in a state of mild panic but this time, I was actually almost relaxed (a very rare emotion for me). I figured that it was probably because there was literally no pressure on me. I wasn’t running for my school or club and I didn’t know anyone else competing (except my dad obviously). Also, as this was my first, I inevitably didn’t have a PB to aim for – ensuring that I couldn’t really put any pressure on myself! As I looked around at the many people, I noticed there was seemingly not one other person younger than about 18 so I must have looked tiny! I kept receiving confused looks from people but I embraced it. At least I would be first junior!
I managed to get in a good warm-up including all my drills and stretches (the worst possible outcome of the race would be receiving an injury so I was determined to prevent that). We had just enough time to watch the exciting 5k race -in which I was able to predict the first man and women and I cheered on a man in a “Vegan Runners”‘s vest- before they were lining us up. To my slight annoyance, there were a lot more people in the 10k than the 5k (almost 400) but it was chip timed so at least the bustle at the start wouldn’t affect us. By 7:15, we were off! We weren’t expecting to go very fast as I hadn’t done any long distance (nothing longer than about 6k) for a while due to my first track season so we started nearer to the back. Our plan was to go very steady: 5 minutes per kilometre for the first 5k and pick it up during the second which would be quite difficult for me to achieve. In the majority of my races, I am very used to getting a fast start so I would have to be very disciplined to avoid the temptation. Almost thankfully though, the start of the race was very busy so I was almost blocked from going too fast anyway!
The course was 3 laps and managed to be on a variety of terrains and landscapes (which in a way was useful as it provided a refreshing variety of scenery but slightly annoying as I was forced onto grass for majority of the first circuit). To my relief, it was pretty much flat with a long slight down hill at the start and end of the course (the inevitable uphill was very gradual so did not feel strenuous). The first lap seemed to breeze by – perhaps because I was at a very comfortable pace. It was a very beautiful course and I was really enjoying the running (in fact, I almost couldn’t keep the grin off my face). Throughout the second lap, we sped up slightly but I was still fairly comfortable, despite a slight pain in my feet (I feared the blisters that would later appear). We were pacing it very well (ahead of schedule however) and I was very thankful for our negative splits as it ensured that we were to overtake a lot of people (instead of being over taken). I must admit, when you overtake someone, it really does give you a little boost – as opposed to the demoralising affect of being over-taken. Whilst running, I attempted to amuse myself by writing this blog post in my head but I got distracted as always. Instead, I ended up just concentrating on all the people around me – and how much further I had left to run- but I never once got bored.
As the third lap came around, I was pretty tired but I was also excited. I knew I had more to give and I was already ahead of our planned schedule. For the whole race, I had been tempted to pace away but I knew that I had to save it for the last lap. It was very hot so we darted for the water station (wasting no time) which gave me a refreshing boost – I even managed to throw the bottle into the bin whilst running, leaving me feeling already triumphant. My mum and brother were cheering us at the side-lines, spurring me on. Granted, the last lap was the hardest but I still loved it. We over-took more people still and were not over-taken once. I was in a nice, relaxed stride pattern and I knew that we were almost there. However, annoyingly, the last lap did seem to take a lot longer (although it was my faster circuit). The distance between kilometre 8 and 9 felt endless! Also, there was a part in the course at around 9k where you could see the finish and I started sprinting – I was very disappointed however when I saw the people ahead turning in the opposite direction. Through the last kilometre, I kept reminding myself how little I had left to go and, after a slightly gruelling 800m, the finish line was insight! I sprinted as hard as my little legs could carry me at that point in time and, to great relief and delight, we crossed the line! The clock read 46:19 (my chip time was 46:15 – although they mixed it up on the results and gave me my dads time as we were wearing the wrong numbers!) I was elated! We had been planning around 50 minutes so this was much better than I ever considered! We collected our medals and drunk a lot of water. I felt great!
I am so delighted to have completed my first ever 10k! It was a brilliant experience and I really cannot wait to do more! I set a solid base time and I am excited to see if I can get quicker in the future. If anyone has any recommendations for longer races (that I am allowed to compete in), please contact me as I would love to have a look. Also, I don’t think I have ever felt so happy and chilled out during a race before so hopefully this is a sign that my positive running mentality is improving. Thank you again to RunThrough for this great experience and well done to everyone who ran 🙂
I would love to inspire some of you to go out and set yourself a challenge like this. Don’t fear what you haven’t tried! I had never done anything like this before but I am so glad I did! I urge you to try something new – no matter how impossible you think it sounds- and just go for it 😀 I really hope you enjoyed reading as much as I enjoyed writing and I hope you are having a great summer,
Also, I am heading off to Greece tomorrow so expect some exciting holiday blog posts, including my holiday training 😉