A couple of firsts happened today. The first time I've ran the Tom Scott 10 Miler at Strathclyde park, the first time running unattached from a club in a long time and the first road road of the year.
Where do I start? Let's go with the past couple of weeks. I've had a bit of a tough couple of weeks from a training point of view. I've just not been 'feeling it' and I've been struggling to hit the target paces that my coach has been setting me. It's not because the paces are out of my capabilities, I know this because I've hit the paces about 4 weeks ago. For some unknown reason, it's just not been there recently.
I'd signed up to Tom Scott 10 mile race maybe back in February and I'd decided this was going to be the first race I target for this year. My previous 10 mile race was back in 2011 and so my personal best time was 1:06:45. With the way the past couple of weeks had gone, I wasn't 100% sure I could beat that, but I'd give it a go.
Since signing up, I'd also decided not to renew my Edinburgh AC membership. The reason for not renewing, it's simple, I couldn't justify paying increased membership costs of £75 a year just to wear the club vest. I don't train with the club, I haven't been racing at the cross country events and I couldn't see what benefit I was getting for my cash. Maybe not the way I should be thinking about things, I should be supporting my local athletics club but, for now, I'm unattached.
So, last night, Mandy and I headed over to Strathclyde park and booked in to a local hotel. It was really nice and it meant that we only had a 5 minute drive to the start rather than an hour. With the clocks going forward this also meant a wee bit more time in bed!
I laid out my kit so I could just wake up and pull it on in the morning and then go for breakfast.
I woke up feeling nervous about the race, I didn't know what I was capable of but I was going to harness the nerves and race as hard as I could.
We arrived at registration, I picked up my race number with ease and then met some of the other guys from Edinburgh AC. Had a quick chat with them, checked out the course map and then went for my warm up. The weather conditions were ideal. A very slight breeze and sunshine. Perfect!
The course is hard to explain so here is my strava track of it! You run clockwise to start (from the green dot), run around the top end of the loch and then loop back the start line, counter clockwise. You then do a full lap of the loch counter clockwise.
With 5 minutes to go, I said cheerio to Mandy, got a good luck kiss and made my way in to the pack of waiting runners. While I was racing, Mandy was out doing a run of her own and giving support whenever she could. More on that in a bit.
With a short countdown, we were off. A pretty busy start meant it took a couple hundred metres before I found some space to run at my pace.
My race plan was simple, run 6:30/mi pace for the first 5 miles and then see what the legs had in them for the final 5. If they felt good, push on, if not then just hang on!
The first mile came in at 6:25 and I was feeling comfortable. I wasn't breathing out my backside so I went with it but kept an eye on things so that I didn't go any quicker than this for the second mile.
A Edinburgh AC runner, Dave, came up to be just after the mile marker and we were running together for a couple of miles, (6:30, 6:23) but then he dropped back a bit and I didn't see him again.
Somewhere around 2.5 miles Malc, another Edinburgh AC runner, past me and I had to make a decision, do I run with him or leave him be. I decided to leave him be and stick to my race plan. The main reason for this was, I knew there was a hill somewhere on this section and the last thing I wanted to do was push too hard, get a stitch and have to stop and walk it off!
The previous miles had been undulating but nothing major. The paths were a bit bumpy with trees roots so I had to keep my wits about me but we were soon turning off the paths and on to the road. This was now the climb. Probably about 0.5 mile of climb so I eased the pace back and ran to feel. I wanted the effort level to stay high but not so high that I would blow up. I could still see Malc just ahead of me.
Once at the top of the climb, there was a nice downhill section where my average pace went from 6:45/mi back to an average of 6:26/mi - Perfect! So no ill effects of the climb to dent my chances of a PB!
Now I was back down on the flat for a good couple of miles and I started to make a bit of a move to catch Malc and a couple of other runners ahead of me.
Mile 5, 6:19/mi.
Not long after going through mile 5, Mandy was at the side of the path shouting support. I heard her shout "Well done Malc!" and then I just got a nod, a "Well done" and a clap. I knew what she was doing, she was keeping my position a secret from Malc so he didn't know I was closing in on him! :)
Whether it worked or not, by 5.5 miles I was side by side with him and feeling good. We ran together, not saying anything to one another, just running, racing, and enjoying it.
I saw the 6 mile (6:23/mi) mark and I made a decision, I was going to start to crank up the pace for the next 4 miles but I didn't want to go too hard. We still had the climb to go again - or so I thought!
Mile 7 - 6:19/mi, a bit quick, I better ease up a bit so I can attack the hill.
Mile 8 - 6:21/mi - I realised we weren't going back up the hill and that the easier pace wasn't required! Time to put the foot down!
Mile 9 - 6:11/mi - I had dropped Malc but still didn't trust him not to come and catch me so I focussed on the next runner ahead of me and went chasing, I did this for the entire final mile and made up a number of places.
Mile 10 - Finished with a 6:09/mi and I was spent!! The picture was taken with maybe half a mile to go by Mandy and I was in pain! Can you guess?
A new shiny PB of 1:03:29, finished 91st/363 and had an amazing race. I felt really good and can't wait now for the next block of training to kick in.
This week I've a very easy week of running but no doubt, the following week will be back out on the roads trying to get even faster for my next race.
I only ran 2 road races last year! This year, I'm already signed up to 4!
Thanks Malc for the racing, it was brilliant.
Dave, great to speak to you after the race, we will race together again soon!
Mandy, thanks for the support as always, you're the best cheerleader!