This post originally appeared on Ben’s old blog, Running From the Physio.
My main challenge this spring was to complete my first Half Marathon, something I achieved in Silverstone at the start of March. However, I wanted to make sure that I had something to work towards afterwards, and so I registered for the Bridgwater 10k, which was four weeks later. The idea was that this would firstly keep me training, and secondly, give me an idea of where I was so that I could start to focus on achieving my second big target this year of running a sub-45 minute 10k.
The course was advertised as being PB friendly due to being almost completely flat, although there was a note that 300 metres of the course was off-road, making it a multi-terrain race, rather than a road race. Having seen significant improvements in my parkrun PB since my last 10k race, I went into this race full of confidence that I could take a decent chunk off my previous time (47:25). My rough target for Bridgwater was around 46:30, something that I felt should be within my capabilities given my parkrun times.
Unfortunately, the run started badly, and only really got worse. For the first time in a race, I wore a Garmin, but it only really served to confuse me. While my Garmin told me that I had charged off, and was running somewhere around a 7:00 min/mile pace, I reached the first kilometre marker at around 4:50, which equated to around 7:45 min/mile pace. I had two options: either my Garmin was telling me porky-pies, or the marker was in the wrong place. Unfortunately, I couldn’t really tell which: I felt like I was running pretty quickly, and so was inclined to believe the Garmin, but on the other hand, I knew that GPS watches can’t always be relied upon. So I sped up.
This, on reflection, was a BAD IDEA. By the end of the second mile, my Garmin pace was still around 7:00 min/mile, and shortly after this I reached the off-road part of the course. This was described to us before the race as being about 150 – 200 metres. It wasn’t. I tried to push hard to keep my pace on track, thinking it would be a short section, but as it dragged on, I realised that all I was really achieving was tiring my legs out. I reckon that this section went on for about 500 – 600 metres, and (as we’d been told) it was heavy going; slippy mud, jumping over puddles, very uneven surface with occasion rocks. My legs, already suffering from my bad pacing over the first couple of miles, were wrecked during this bit. The rest of the race became an annoyed trot home, during which I ran around 7:50 min/mile, generally a comfortable pace.
I completed the race, pretty dejectedly in 48:25. When I posted after the race that I was disappointed with this, a few people pointed out that it was still a good time, and looking back there is an element of truth to this. I felt that I had run an awful race, and so to end up being only one minute outside of my PB, and two minutes behind my target, I was clearly able to maintain a reasonable pace even after the poorly paced start. Still, it can only be a positive that my reaction to my disappointment was to start looking for another 10km during the summer to target for a PB. But before that, the Isle of Man Easter Festival of Running 10km!