By the time you read this, the 30th Anniversary Perth 10K will be done and dusted. Depending on how speedy (or not) I am with my post, it may even be the day after, but as I begin typing this, the race is actually yet to take place!
Ordinarily, I wouldn’t begin my report until after the race, but on this occasion my routine has been a little bit different. Ordinarily, the race would begin up at the George Duncan track and Steve would give me my race pack in advance, thus allowing me to simply turn up ready to run at the allotted time. Ordinarily. But this year’s race preparations have not really been “ordinary”.
You see, this year marks the 30th anniversary of the race so a few changes have been made: the route is a nod to the original route (some aspects of the land have changed in the past 30 years so it couldn’t be exactly the same); double the number of entrants have signed up so the race has been full at 600 entries (plus waiting list) for the last week or so; and this year there is a trial of using chip timing, this last being the reason I’ve got time to begin my post on race morning.
How can chip timing alter a routine? I hear you ask. Well, the answer is that since the chips are the kind that stick to the back of your race number (like in the Edinburgh Marathon races), the numbers were all with the chip timing people until registration, so I couldn’t have mine in advance this time. Torn between registering later and risking lots of queues for race packs and toilets so that I could have my customary leisurely morning or going early then having to hang about for ages, I decided to go over to Bell’s Sports Centre to register early (registration opened at 8:45am but it’s only a 5 minute drive away) then go home to relax, hydrate and use my own facilities where the only “queue” is caused by my crazy cats larking about chasing flies and looking for a prime windowsill location from which to watch the pigeons! This allowed me plenty of time to get ready (I’m actually in my race kit already with all the peripherals I need laid out for when I leave) and provided a chance to begin my post.
I must also confess to another reason that preparations have not been “ordinary” (although, perhaps a little too ordinary for me!) and that is the fact that I haven’t actually run in the last 2 weeks since the Kilt Run due to a niggling problem. I’ve had a wee recurrence of an issue with the movement of the joints in my foot which puts extra strain further up the kinetic chain in my leg. Fortunately, I’m now much better at recognising early signs of this before it becomes a major issue, so a couple of weeks of the bike rather than running and metafit, plus some rehab to get the foot moving properly and massage to ease the tension in my muscles means theoretically I should be fine to start running again. I did try a short test run on Friday evening and everything felt a lot better, albeit with a few rough bits in the muscle which still need to be worked out. This leaves me in the position of having spent all summer running and racing 5K, but with no running over this distance for about a month. I have most definitely not had the ideal preparation for 10K racing, however I know I have the fitness to complete the distance. My biggest problem will be getting my pace right – 5K pace is close to 8 minute miles for me right now, but I really need to be aiming for 8:30 to try and get a consistent 10K in a decent time.
Anyway, training issues aside, registration was really simple. It was quiet so I could quickly collect my race pack and commemorative running vest before returning home for about 9am.
Worried that the time at home might lead to complacency with my timing, making me late for the race, I set an alarm on my phone to sound about 15 minutes before I needed to leave. This gave me a chance to have one last visit to the toilet and gather up all my peripherals like my Garmin and iPod before setting off.
On the way over a little girl getting out of a car spotted me, pointed and said to her parents, “look, she’s doing the 10K too, just like [Miss X]” before turning to me and wishing me luck. I thanked her, smiling at the nice friendly gesture and carried on towards the start area at the Inch.
I arrived back at the North Inch about 20 minutes before the race start and was greeted by a sea of lycra and bright colours. There were people jogging around to warm up, people queueing at the portaloos and groups gathered around chatting. I couldn’t spot Steve so I decided to nip up to Bell’s again to use the toilets there as there was hardly any queue. On the way back I found his fellow race director to look after my jacket then joined the rest of my running club for a press photo after which it was time to get into position to start. Steve was making announcements via a PA system but I couldn’t hear it all that well (it probably didn’t help that I was too busy chatting!) and all of a sudden there was a surge forward and the race was underway!
As usual the adrenaline of starting a race kicked in and although I felt comfortable, I knew I was going too fast. I worked on aiming for around 8:30 and a steady pace as I knew I had averaged 8:35 per mile at my last 10K in Glasgow back in May.
The route began with a lap and a half of the North Inch before setting off up the riverside. Being on the Inch meant I could see the trail of runners stretching out ahead of me and others behind me. There was a bit of jostling for position at first but that’s normal and soon everyone seemed to be settling in. I clocked 8:28 and 8:33 for the first 2 miles. Pretty much on pace, all I had to do was hold it and I would have a decent time.
I was aware of a fellow club member ahead of me and since she usually beats me, I decided to try and keep her in sight as a gauge of my pace. Soon, though, I became aware that I was catching her and by around 2.5ish miles in, I passed her. She called out well done and I told her she was bound to catch me later on – it seemed weird to be ahead of her in a race! A little ahead of her was another club member and I passed her as well just before half way. I was running well in the early stages, but fully expected both of them to come flying past me again as I was sure I would fade in the 2nd half.
Mile 3 was completed in 8:29 and the water station was at the halfway point a little ahead. I had decided in advance that I would slow down through the water station, get a decent drink and pour some water down my back. Conditions were humid and experience has taught me that slowing down/walking to do this doesn’t lose me any time overall as I feel more refreshed and better able to hold my pace when I speed up again. I also expected the second half of the race to be tough as I just haven’t been doing the distance work.
Sure enough, as I continued on up the riverside my legs began to feel heavy. I ploughed on, trying to keep the pace as steady as I could, but some stretches on grass around the football fields after the turning point sapped my energy and resulted in slower running. Mile 4 in 8:38 and mile 5 in 8:46. Time to suck it up and keep on running.
The final stretch brought us back onto the Inch, this time heading in the opposite direction to return to where we started. My legs were still sluggish, but with the finish actually in sight, I kept on going – the quicker you move, the sooner it’s over, right!
At this point I was running on the shoulder of another woman and was determined not to let her get away from me. This probably helped me to keep on going. I actually edged past her towards the end of mile 6 (which I ran back on pace at 8:28) but I wasn’t much ahead of her. It was also at this point that I realised the route was going to come up short. I couldn’t understand why this would be the case as it had been measured accurately so many times in the days and weeks before the race. Nothing I could do about it though, I was nearly there and that woman I had just passed was trying to get ahead of me again! My competitive instinct kicked in and a little voice inside me said, “no!” So it was time to see what I had left and try to “do a Mo”. I kicked it up a gear and raced towards the line, creating a gap between us. I could hear people I knew shouting my name which spurred me on to stay ahead of my rival. According to my Garmin I ran that last section at 7:28 pace!
Crossing the line I was greeted by a number of familiar faces congratulating me on finishing. I got my medal (a nice commemorative one this year) and headed over to the marquee where the goody bags were. Since we’d already got our vests at registration, the bags were quite simple: Run 4 It discount voucher, water, banana and a Cadbury’s fudge. “Just enough” (that’s one for those who were around in the 80s!)
And, of course, I got a friend to take my photo:
My leg was throbbing a bit after I finished, however I hadn’t been aware of any discomfort whilst running so I suspect the bruising from the treatments I’ve had just needs a little more time to settle. I’ll continue with my rehab exercises and get some more massage for now. I’ll probably also keep the frequency of my running down for the time being and cross train to maintain my fitness for forthcoming races.
Back to today’s race though, and as I hung about the finish area speaking to people, it seemed everyone was in agreement at the route being just over 6 miles rather than 6.2. It later transpired that some marshals weren’t in the correct position so while the front runners who were behind the lead cyclist followed the correct route, a fair number down the field inadvertently made a wrong turn which cut out a short section. For me, this meant a finishing time of 51:30 and an uneasy “PB” (previously 53:22 in Glasgow) however some rough maths suggests that had I run 6.2 miles today I would still have probably sneaked a PB. I was 0.2 of a mile short but almost 2 minutes quicker than my PB. I would certainly have run that 0.2 in a good bit less than 2 minutes as 0.2 in 2 minutes would equal a 10 minute mile pace and I averaged 8:34 per mile today, 1 second faster than my Glasgow average. It would probably only have been seconds, but a PB is a PB so I guess I’ll take it. The pressure’s now on for the Stirling 10K in 3 weeks!
Despite one or two operational snags, it was a great event today and wonderful to see so many entering this year. I’m quite sure that next year will be bigger and better (and we’ll all run bang on 6.2 miles!). Best get your entry in early…!