“Oh I do like to be beside the seaside, oh I do like to be beside the sea, oh I do like to run a 10k along the prom prom prom …..”
That’s how the traditional song goes right?
Well it does this week, at least in my mind anyways. Sunday morning I actually started, and more importantly finished a race. Just let that sink in a second or two.
Illness, injury, circumstance all stayed away and I found myself in the Lancashire coastal resort of Southport ready to take part in the combined 10k and half marathon. Two thousand runners in total with about 600 in the 10k would be hurling their bodies past the ice cream parlours, fair ground rides and bewildered tourists on their way to Starbucks for their wake up shot of caffeine.
The race started and finished in one of the towns parks and in warming up I was just keeping calm and focussing on the race. I was aiming for somewhere in the region of 55 mins, anything below that would be a bonus. As I stretched a bloke recognised my COLT hoody and came over and introduced himself. We chatted for a while about ironman etc, he was from Melbourne in Australia and over here visiting family. Nice bloke, hope he had a good race in the half marathon which he was using as prep for the 70.3 world championships.
It was now time to get into the starting pen. I lined up just past the 50 min marker and did that nervous thing of just bouncing around on my feet on the spot for a few minutes whilst checking my garmin still had a gps signal and was reading my HR correctly. Minutes later the gun went off and because of the numbers racing it took me a full minute to cross the start line.
The course was nice and flat, a little crowded in the first mile on the narrow park paths but once out onto the wide roads there was acres of space in which to open up the legs. We ran up Lord Street, before turning left heading to the marina, at this point it got quieter as those doing the half marathon headed straight on. I felt comfortable but my garmin beeped to tell me that my second mile was 7:50 which I knew I would pay for. That was faster than I wanted to be running but I just ran and didn’t look at my watch at all except when it beeped. I would average 8.20 a mile over the course of the race, I had a moment between 4 and 5 miles where I felt that previous fast mile but I stayed focussed and kept my pace.
After a lap of the marina we turned onto the Prom and into a headwind for the next mile and a half. It wasn”t bad but I was aware that I was having to work harder. Approaching mile 5 I ignored the second feed station and focussed on the bloke 50m in front of me, he was this old donkeys carrot in the final mile. I passed him with about 300 metres to go with a little smile to myself.
I crossed the line with a big smile, it felt good to have finished a race. My time was 51:39. I didn’t feel knackered and my first reaction was I should have ran harder. But I knew that I had done all that I could have given the last few months of illness. This was a good measure of how the recovery and rebuilding is going and I’m genuinely very pleased. It was a great race, might go back next year.
This week its back to running at ultra pace 10-10:30 min miles just spending time on my feet because that’s what I need. I had my speedy fun, there will be more of that sort of thing but for now its just plod plod plod.