Grangemouth 10k Race Report

This was my first 10k of the year and to be honest I wasn't really sure how I would get on.  My running aim for 2016 is to do a race every month and January, February and March eased me in gently with 5k races.

This race was going to be the test to see how my fitness was going.  In 2015, I didn't run my first 10k until August due to illness and I managed to get three 10ks in between then and the end of the year.  Those races were focused on simply completing the distance, running without stopping - which I managed to achieve on each occasion.  I managed to complete my first race - an undulating Forth Road Bridge - in 69:03.  I managed to run a faster time in each of the other races, finishing on 66:24 - although I am not entirely convinced the course was an accurately measured 10k.

I had managed to keep my training going over the winter keeping a longer run of 5 miles in there so it wasn't too big a step up to get into 10k mode.  I had been doing a weekly speedwork session since Christmas but after Inverness 5k I decided to concentrate on getting more miles in.  Owain and I sat down and wrote a new programme for me (I do like to have structure to tell me what to do!).  We knew Grangemouth was just going to be a marker for the year but I did say to Owain that I would love to get back under 65 minutes.  My 5k times were averaging around 31 minutes so we thought this was a challenging but achievable aim.

Fast forward to race day and for a change I felt nice and relaxed.  A few days before the race I had read a post on twitter about running mottos and being able to run strong and I felt this was a good mantra for me to have for the day.  I wanted to come into the finish line feeling strong and not ready to collapse.

There was general chat with friends about the course and aims for the day.  I did say to a few folk that I was aiming for sub 65, then wondered if that was a good idea as it may put me under pressure. Never mind, it had been said.

As we gathered at the start line, I decided to have a wee warm up jog just to get my breathing into a nice rhythm.  I came back and joined in with the crowd - it wasn't until I saw the video of the start that I realised just how far back I had actually started. This was part of my thinking as I didn't want to set off too fast.  I knew to run sub 65 minutes I needed to run an average pace of 10:25 so deliberately didn't let myself go faster than 10.15 min/mile for the first k. This actually worked really well and linked with my run strong mantra as by the first k I was gradually picking people off and this continued for most of the race.  

I found myself struggling around 6/7k as it was pretty open with a slight wind running alongside the dual carriageway but I just keep repeating my mantra of "run strong" and focusing on keeping my body strong.  My running posture has never been good, I have always stuck my bum and hips back and this worsened due to muscle deterioration from my Graves but this is something I am working on - I just need to focus myself when I feel I am getting tired.

As we approached 7k, we were running up past the stadium knowing that we would be heading back down the other side of the road to head back into the stadium - although I hadn't quite appreciated there was a wee out and back cone section too!  This threw me a bit but a few glances of my watch showed me that my pace was averaging 10:25, meaning it would be touch and go whether I would get my sub 65 minutes.  I knew I had to dig in and just keep going.  As I came back down towards the stadium, I got a wee shout and smile from Owain telling me there wasn't far to go.  I had ran the race before so knew we ran round the outskirts of the stadium before heading on to the track for the finish - and I remembered from the last time that the outside section was longer than I thought.  I got around what I thought was half way and a sneak peak of my watch showed 63.30.  I knew it would be touch and go whether I would get my sub 65.  I gave myself a kick up the bum as I knew I would be so disappointed if I was just over and so really picked up the pace.  I didn't even look at my watch as I made my way on to the track as I didn't want to lose valuable seconds.  It was only when I crossed the line I looked at my watch and saw my finish time of 64:45.  Woo hoo!

Mandy on the final stretch

At the start of the day, I genuinely didn't know how I was going to get on as it was a big ask for me.  I know I am never going to win any prizes with my running times, even fully fit, but to me it was just such a significant step on my way back to fitness.  I see the big hurdles as sub 65 and then sub 60.  

Uploading my stats to garmin, I realised that this was the fastest 10k I have ran since 2010!  We now know that I had probably been ill since the end of 2010/beginning of 2011, but it took until mid 2012 before I was diagnosed. This really made me feel that I am on the way back to previous fitness.

So what next?  I have already signed up for a couple of 10ks and the focus will be on trying to push and properly race them.  Just now I feel there is still a balance between trying to run fast and my fitness in making sure I get round the course without having to walk.  Realistically, I don't expect to get anywhere near the hour mark until towards the end of the year.  That being said, it doesn't mean I am not going to give it a good try!

Mandy Williams

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