Last Sunday saw the 21st running of the annual Glasgow Women’s 10K. I have heard a lot about this race over the last few years, but this was my first time taking part and I have to say, I don’t think it will be my last.
I originally signed up to this race in the early part of the year when I was making a tentative return to regular running following some setbacks. I really enjoy big city running events with lots of crowds and support so this gave me something to look forward to (the promise of a medal and T-shirt did no harm either!) and a target on my training plan. As it turned out, my first target became a half marathon in mid-April, but as the 10K drew closer and my running continued to improve, I found myself really looking forward to the opportunity to test myself over the distance. It was also exciting to know that I would be taking part in a race which covered the full spectrum of running types from the elite (including Jo Pavey and her “passenger”) to those who would likely walk a good deal of the course, soak up the atmosphere and raise vital funds for charities close to their hearts.
Since I had signed up so far in advance, my race pack was sent out in one of the first batches. I was really pleased with my personalised number and the race day information was comprehensive (the most important details were enclosed in the pack and further information was available to download from the website). I’ll confess to a brief panic though when I discovered I was in the white wave which would start immediately behind the elite and fast-paced club runners! What on earth had I put as my predicted time? But the more I thought about it, the more I realised that an event like this was likely to draw all kinds of participants and that the majority would probably not be regular runners. I expected to see a lot of fairy wings and tutus, so knowing that I would be starting further up the field meant that I would be less likely to spend the first couple of miles weaving around others. I really admire those who are prepared to walk/jog around these types of event, especially when the weather isn’t great, but since I had realised that there was potential for me to run a PB, I really didn’t want to find myself stuck behind people who were going to be slower than me. So the white wave it was then.
The night before the race I followed my usual pre-race ritual: fuel up with pasta and some “go faster” sweeties, have a final check through the race details and, crucially, choose my outfit! Since it would be an all female race, I opted for my running skirt and my “princess” running top along with arm warmers and compression calf sleeves. I figured there would be a lot of predominantly pink outfits, so the pink detail in my top and my PIIIIIIIIINK!!!! running shoes had me covered!
Sunday itself was an early start. We wanted to be away from Perth around 7am in order to be in Glasgow about 8. Getting to the start at Bellahouston Park was really well organised. Due to the road closures in the race area, organisers had ensured other methods of getting there were in place, including free shuttle buses and use of the underground. We opted to park in the city centre just by Buchanan bus station and got a shuttle bus around 8:20 which had us at Bellahouston Park in good time to have a look about (and visit the toilets the requisite number of times!).
Soon enough it was time to head to my starting pen. Again, I was impressed as these were very well managed. At some races, there can be little control over entry to starting pens, however here there was a different side street leading to each coloured starting pen and numbers were being checked to ensure runners were in the right place. I found a position, got my Garmin ready and took part in the mass warm up (mainly to keep me warm and moving as it was starting to rain and getting a bit chilly since removing my outer layers).
The announcer did a great job of getting everyone fired up. Music was played, encouragement shouted and there was a brief interview with Jo Pavey before a countdown to the first wave start. There were photographers on the top deck of an open-top bus and there was a jubilant atmosphere as we moved towards the start, arms aloft and waving. In fact, everyone was so interested in waving for the cameras that we almost didn’t notice our wave being held briefly and there were a few minor collisions as people stopped abruptly and bumped into each other. This being a women’s race, however, such things were treated in a friendly fashion – not sure a men’s race would be quite the same!
Just after 10am, the white wave got underway. My plan was to head out around 8:40 per mile for the first half, get past the hill in Pollock Park around 6-7K then see what I had left to pick up the pace to the finish. Straight away I realised that I was indeed in the right wave as everyone around me seemed to be running at a similar pace so there was no weaving or getting boxed in – not bad for a race of around 7000! As usual, excitement meant a slightly too fast start, but within a couple of minutes I was settling into a nice comfortable rhythm at around 8:35 per mile. Perfect!
As the first 2 or 3 miles ticked by through the wide streets of Pollockshields, I kept it nice and steady and my Garmin splits showed I was nailing a consistent run at 8:33, 8:37 and 8:33 for the first three miles. I had set my Garmin 10 to show distance/pace on page one and time/pace on page 2. Recently I have been running with the pace hidden and just seeing how my body felt, often leaving me surprised later when I find out how fast I have been moving. For the race, however, I really wanted to keep an eye on my pace as I knew I had to be faster than a 9 minute mile to beat my previous PB of 54:30. I also didn’t want to head out too fast and have nothing left for the end – I was aiming for a negative split on this one.
At the 5K marker, I changed the page so I could see my overall time: 26:56. Some maths occupied me for the next couple of minutes as I worked out that so long as I kept it up, I was on for sub-54 minutes and a PB.
Around this point the route entered Pollock Park, which I remembered from the Great Scottish Run as having some hills. I knew that the only “real” hill was coming up and just got my head down and ploughed on. There was plenty of support in the park from spectators and really encouraging marshals (who I smiled at and thanked), as well as pipers who had been stationed at each km marker. Mile 4 was dead on at 8:35, followed by 8:44 for mile 5 – not bad given a reasonably steady climb (although it was followed by a beautiful downhill stretch which I raced down as fast as I could!).
I decided to check my time at 5.2 miles to see where I was with one mile to go. As it turned out, this was round about where we came out of the park back onto the streets. My watch read 44:XX, leaving me around 10 minutes for the last mile. I was amazed! It’s a wonderful feeling to know that barring something serious happening, all you have to do is keep running and a PB is on the bag. I could have slowed to a jog and probably still have a new PB! Instead, I started to pick up the pace and ran hard, trusting the distance counter on my Garmin to get me there.
As I ploughed on, passing the 9K marker (0.6 of a mile to go!) I was passing people and the crowds lining the streets were starting to increase. 800m to go (just 2 laps of the track)…400m to go (1 lap of the track, I could do that), then turning the last corner onto Mosspark Road with 200m to go and the finish gantry ahead of me. Mile 6 had been clocked at 8:22 and now I was running as fast as I could for the finish, glancing to the side for Steve who I knew would be somewhere along that last 200m stretch to cheer me on. I caught sight of him smiling and waving (he was shouting too but there was so much noise between the crowds at the side and the announcer at the finish that I couldn’t hear him) then I fixed my eyes on the finish line (which was rather usefully displaying a different clock for each of the different waves) and just moved as fast as I could, lungs bursting and legs turning to jelly.
The last 0.2 was clocked at 7:48 pace, giving me a finish time of 53:22. A PB by 1:08! Grinning, I made my way through the finish chute grabbing anything that was offered. Once more, the organisation here was impressive. Friendly marshals were directing people to different sides depending on the size of T-shirt they had requested and there were plenty of lovely volunteers handing things out. I collected some water, a finishers’ bag (containing my T-shirt, bottle of Powerade, a couple of cereal bars, foil blanket, deodorant, mini toothpaste and the usual assortment of leaflets), a snack size Soreen, banana and, of course, my medal. A pretty good haul to be honest!
Exiting the chute, I spotted Steve chatting to one of our running friends from Perth who had finished just a little ahead of me. Still grinning, I gave him the thumbs up and was rewarded with a hug for my efforts. Given the tough time I had at the start of the year, I’ve never been so pleased with a finish time – and I still think I can go a bit faster with a little more work!
A little bit “damp” (after a number of years studying in Glasgow I expected no less!) but the smile says it all: not only did I get a PB, but I nailed my race plan and got my negative split. Later, I learned that I finished 790th overall and 357th in my age group – I was one happy Running Princess!
So my first experience of the Glasgow Women’s 10K was a positive one and I definitely recommend it: superb organisation, nice route, brilliant atmosphere and a good finishers’ pack. I had a great day out and certainly plan to do this one again. In fact, entry is already open for next year…!