After a year of not racing, no Park Run and even pondering the possibility of ever running alongside other people, apart from the odd socially distanced overtaking manoeuvre. The time had come to book into an event (Run Through – Northampton 10km). With all the thing’s I’d missed, such as other people, on closed roads and a chip time.
All the memories came flooding back, the scramble to find some safety pins to secure my race number. Setting a reminder not to forget my chip and eagerly charging my headphones and selecting the “Right” playlist, to set the mood for a joyful Sunday run.
Whilst admittedly my levels of fitness have improved, my confidence levels are lagging behind and I signed myself up for sub 57minutes. The little voice of doubt crept in two weeks before the race, my legs were feeling heavy, 10km was feeling like a chore and I considered the possibility of yet another anxiety-induced personal worst. But mindset really is everything…
I remembered myself that it’s a blessing to my lining up to run with all these other people, the roads were closed, I had space, and I had time. I had supporters, the perfect pre-race fuel and when you count all the positives, it’s a lot harder to focus on the negatives.
The day before the event I made an effort to eat high carbohydrate, nutritious food, hydrate well and most of all, rest and relax. Luckily this paid off, because I slept like a baby and arrived at Northampton 10km feeling full of energy, there was a bit of a hold up with parking. However I found Kim, and had a pre-race emergency pee stop and spent some time warming up with a gentle jog.
Run through started the runners off at 9am, with the elite (33minute) runners going first and gradually building up from there. I had a moment of confidence and moved myself into the sub-55minute start time and before I knew it I was crossing the start line.
The first mile flew by, I felt strong, confident and happy, I crossed the 5km point at around 26 minutes which I was really pleased with. I then grabbed a bottle of water, which I carried for a mile whilst I sipped and rehydrated myself due to the humid weather which caused me to slow right down. However, chances are that my body needed that recovery mile, at the end of the day, I’m not an elite, I’m simply me, versus me and it feels good to respect that.
At mile 5, I was in good spirts but keen to hit the finish line, the course was fast and mainly flat, however there were long stretches of road with little in the way of distraction or inspiration. As I saw the stadium in the distance, I knew I was close to finishing and found a little boost in energy. Only to quickly discover that I was going to end up lapping myself and weaving back into the stadium to finish.
When I crossed the line and realised I’d just scraped under 54 minutes (53.58 – I’m not kidding when I say JUST) I felt a huge rush of joy. I’d beaten my expectations, I’d beaten the 2020 me, who ran a 10km personal worst of 68minutes and cried at the finish line and most of all, I felt proud. Sometimes with running and life, it’s about playing the “Long Game” – I’ve spent a year training, overhauling my diet and my mental well-being, to get back down this kind of time. The biggest rewards come to those who wait and those who work and I’m excited to keep improving.
Also, it wouldn’t be right not to mention my lovely friend Kim who ran her first official 10km race in 52minutes and made it look effortless!
Would I recommend the event? Yes – It’s definitely a PB course, and Run Though kept it very well organised, easy to get to, nice medal and the 9am start time was ideal for me. The only downside was leaving the venue was absolute carnage was most of the roads were still closed, also I think I’d have rather lapped myself at the start of the race rather than the end, but that’s a minor detail.
P.s – I paid for event entry myself, this is not gifted or sponsored.