Race Report: Forth Road Bridge 10k

Sunday was the Forth Road Bridge 10k and my target race for my 5k to 10k training programme. My aim for the race was simply to run the 10k route from start to finish rather than “race”. Here is how I got on.

Pre race

Having followed a Runner’s World Couch to 5k programme, I noticed they had a follow on seven week programme which took you from 5k to 10k. Looking at this in terms of dates, I realised that this happened to coincide with the Forth Road Bridge 10k. Being an ex-Pitreavie Road Runner I decided that it was fitting and decided to sign up for the race.

The training programme comprised of four runs per week with one long run per week and a mix of speed work and hill sprints. Due to illness and holidays, I didn’t quite manage to get the final few long runs in and so instead of getting up to six miles my longest run was five miles. That being said I did have a magical mystery tour with Owain while away for a weekend break and a six mile run somehow managed to turn into a 7.3 mile run with a massive hill in the middle. Needless to say, I had to revert to a run/walk strategy on that one but think we managed to clock up nearly two hours on our feet while we wandered through the local village too.

The week leading up to the race, I started to have doubts as to whether I could actually run the full distance. Although I have been on thyroxine for four weeks, I was still feeling really tired and sluggish. It has been strange going from being on edge all the time and not needing much sleep to being so tired that I can actually nap two or three times a day and still sleep at night.

I had looked at the previous results and knew there was a possibility that I could be last as my pace on my long runs hasn’t been fast and I hadn’t did much in terms of constant hills.

Race day

On the morning of the race, the nerves really hit me. I was pretty quiet in the car, just taking in the “undulations” as we drove across the Bridge and up to the Community Centre. Although I have marshalled the course, I have never ran it and it was now beginning to dawn on me how hilly the course would be.

As we entered the community centre, it was lovely seeing familiar faces of those that I used to train with, many who I had not seen since before my Graves’ Disease returned earlier in the year, although we had kept in contact via Facebook. However, as I was already doubting whether I could run the course, this just added to the pressure that I felt and there were a few teary episodes - I blame the hormones I am taking! Poor Bryan had no idea what was going on when I walked towards him blinking away tears.

Bizarrely, I think this helped clear my head and I gave myself a wee talking to, telling myself that actually there is no shame in coming last. It has been less than three months since my radioactive treatment so to even be thinking about completing a 10k is an achievement in itself.

Soon enough the race was about to start and Owain came to find me for our obligatory good luck kiss. I joined a couple of friends towards the back of the pack and before I knew it the race had started. The first part of the race is downhill and, as my aim was to run all the way, I set off at a nice easy pace and told my friends to push on whenever they wanted.  I knew they intended to walk/run the course so their run sections were likely to be faster. I could hear Donald the tail cyclist’s voice, as we made our way down the hill and so knew we were near the back but wasn’t sure how many were behind us. As we got to the turning point at around 2.5k, I took comfort in seeing a handful of runners behind us. This meant I could just focus on running my own race, rather than wondering if I could be last.

The group we were running in started to split as we headed towards the park and ride and up the steep climb towards the north side of the bridge heading south. I slowly made progress, managing to pick off a couple of runners, and was grateful for the shouts of encouragement from the marshals and Pitreavie runners at the bus stop before we got on to the bridge. After what felt like an eternity, I reached the bridge and switched my focus to the other side as I knew the front runners would shortly be heading home. Within minutes I saw them and this helped to distract me from the climb. I managed to spot Owain and I think he spotted me at the same time so we gave each other a big wave and he gave me a wee clap, which was a nice wee boost. Although that was rather short lived when I looked at my GPS and discovered I wasn’t even half way around the course! This knocked me a bit and I suddenly thought I can’t do this as my breathing was all out of sync. I gave myself a good talking to, telling myself to slow down (not that I could go much slower!) and that only if that failed would I then walk. That seemed to do the trick and I before I knew it I was on the downhill and my breathing back to normal. From this point on, I knew someone at every marshal point which was just a great boost psychologically and just helped me to keep running. I didn’t even take on water as it always ends up all over me unless I stop and walk while I drink.

Now coming back over the south side of the bridge, it felt like an eternity climbing to the middle of the bridge but I told myself on a few occasions there was one downhill to go and I was not running all the way to walk this last climb. That managed to get me through and it was such a lovely feeling running down the other end of the bridge to the finish line knowing that I had achieved what I set out to do. A special mention has to go to Vicki, who had to deal with most of the tears on the day and was there cheering me on at both sides of the bridge. It was lovely seeing her as I approached the finish.

My time wasn’t great and I am not even going to mention it in this blog as that was not important for this race. Looking back at my previous races, this is the first 10k I have managed to run all the way in almost four years. I’m happy with that.


Mandy Williams

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