10k races, medals and targets

Race Day, Bristol 10k day, is nearly here. I’m feeling an interesting mix of calm and confidence, mixed with a healthy dose of panic.

I’m calm because I know I can run 10k. I’ve completed the distance 4 times since Christmas and 3 times since my last blog post and so unlike last year, I know that I can complete the course and still be in one piece at the end. Unfortunately, I like to give myself targets (I work in sales) and with the added bonus of being on TV now, these targets are not secret anymore.

PT SessionBeing profiled on “Made in Bristol” has been quite an interesting experience. The first interview I found terrifying and I was NOT relaxed at all and so the interview seemed very uneasy. By the time I was interviewed earlier today (whilst filming some VT for the show that will broadcast during the actual race itself), I was feeling confident enough to stop the interview at a certain point in order to clarify things as well as crack jokes. The filming involved me having a personal trainer Tom (@protom_fitness on Instagram) put me through my paces whilst I was filmed. Tom was excellent and taught me a couple of stretches I hadn’t seen before. During the interview, I was also able to manoeuvre the conversation around to talk about issues and factors that have been important to me in my running life. I droned on quite a bit and so in case they edit some of it out (!), here is a list of important people/events that have been important to me:

My husband starting running again after a 17 year gap to support me and then discovering that he has quite the talent for it – will he crack sub 49 on Sunday? I expect so.

My Daughters – I haven’t shared this before but 3 years ago, (when I was very heavy and sedentary) my eldest daughter took some flack from a hideous boy in her class who has noted my rotund appearance on the school run and had then decided to tease my daughter about it. She was mortified and stuck up for me but it must have been terrible for her. This will never, ever happen again. It is important for all children to have activity built into their lives and this starts at home.

My Sisters (all 4 of them, I include my sister-in-law) being constantly supportive and my youngest sister Queenie completing couch to 5k and now being a member of the bona fide running community and parkrun attendee. She was profiled on the Wotton Parkrun page a couple of weeks ago and there was a brilliant photo of her running for the finish line with her “never give up face” shining. Running Sister has had to have an operation but I am 100% certain that she will be back pounding the pavement before we all know it.

Curly Sue – what an amazing friend she is to me. Apart from the (extremely important) fact that I like her very much and we are genuinely good friends, she has taught me so much. Technique which helps and is critical to stay injury free as I push for longer distances, but also and possibly more importantly, to try and enjoy each run. Even when I am slogging down the Feeder Road (it’s so boring) I try to look at the canal and imagine what the fish are doing. I try to take in the nature and scenery. This is what Curly Sue has taught me. It really helps. Some runs are about speed (even for me) but as long as you are out there in your trainers, you are 90% there and the rest will largely take care of itself.

This Mum Runs : this is a facebook community that I have been a member of for over a year now and I have met SO MANY amazing ladies through it I cannot begin to tell you. They are always encouraging and supportive to newbie and experienced runners alike. I trained to be a “Run Angel” last Summer and so now can hopefully pay this forward by encouraging newer runners to join in and make friends as I have done. I lead a 30 minute run (as often as my job will allow) and I love it.

I met Hattie through TMR and she has since become my proper running buddy, dare I say, training companion. She isn’t running the Bristol 10k but has signed up for the Bristol half with me and so I’m sure will continue to feature heavily in future blog posts.

There are lots and lots of others too.

When asked on “Made in Bristol” what time I was hoping for in this weekend’s 10k, I said 83 minutes, which would take 10 minutes off my time from last year. I regretted saying this out loud on TV almost as soon as I had left the studio and so knew that I would have to find out if this was possible otherwise would be making a total chump of myself (no change there then). Over the Easter holidays, I had a couple of days off and so took myself for a solo 10k. Hattie was on holiday (I really missed running with her whilst she was away) and so without my run/chat buddy, I really, really pushed myself to see if I could do it. It’s fair to say it was a 10k of two halves. The first 5k was ludicrous. I went like a speeding bullet and was nearly sick at the end of it. I walked then for 60 seconds and then ran/walked 1 kilometre/1 minute for the rest of the run. I am not going to lie it was very, very hard indeed…..but I had run it in 81.05 minutes. I was nothing short of shell shocked and absolutely elated. But I was keen to make sure that it wasn’t a one off.

I’ve been continuing in the gym with the Red Lady on strength training and think these sessions are definitely making me stronger. The 81 minutes seemed to back this up. I love these sessions but I can barely walk for the next couple of days, so haven’t been in the past week, but will return again after the 10k.

The other two 10ks I have run were also very different. The first was an Aspire 10k trail run of which there was also a 5k option. Queenie, keen for her first medal, was there for 5k and I ran the first loop with her and then completed the second loop with Hattie. It was very hot and very tough and genuinely it felt as hard as my very first 10k over a year ago. I felt ill as I sat on my sofa at home afterwards (wearing my medal) and for the first time in a while genuinely questioned my sanity with running. I find running in the heat very, very hard and I was wiped out. However, I felt fine the next day, but didn’t run again until the Thursday of that week, when I ran another 10k. This was a This Mum Runs 10k practice, but was “unofficial” as it was on a Thursday. We ran a double harbour loop and I ran with the LA blond at the back and again I ran it in 81 minutes. So, 80 minutes is so close I can almost taste it.

Husband ran Bristol Half last year in 1.51 and one reason was (apart from being a good runner) he started the race behind an official “pacer”. This is someone who runs at the steady pace required to get you over the finish line at the pre-determined time. He chased the 1.50 pacer all the way and so was pleased with his time.

I wanted to really give the 80 minutes time a bash and so looked up the pacers. I was really quite annoyed to discover that the slowest pacer that is being offered by the run co-ordinators is for 70 minutes. I contacted them and explained that they have profiled this blog on their site, I was on the TV promoting their race and so it seemed a shame not to provide pacers for 75, 80 and 90 minutes, especially as they are “championing” all types of runners, even the slower ones. Sadly they said that this could not be accommodated, although promised to review this for future events. I was gutted. No actually I was angry.

I posted about this on the This Mum Runs facebook page (as I know that I am not the only trundle paced runner and lots of ladies – and I am sure men too – will be aiming for a 70-100+ minute finish) to vent my frustration. I was overwhelmed by what happened next. A lovely lady, whom I’ve never met, immediately offered to pace me for 80 minutes and what has happened since is also amazing as other times will also be paced from within the TMR community. I love this. I am hopeful I can do 80 minutes now, as I will feel a bit guilty if I started all of this and then discover that I can’t actually manage it, but I’m going to give it my absolute best shot. I’m watching the weather like John Kettley expecting a hurricane as the current forecast for next Sunday is for hot sunshine. This is not good news for me but I am hydrating like a camel in preparation. If you’re coming to watch please shout hello and it’s important that you know that jelly babies are always welcome. I’m going to be wearing a navy vest with “This Mum Runs” on the front and I’m sure that I will have other ladies running with me.

The pressure is on. Can I take 13 minutes off my time from last year?…..I guess we’ll find out.