Taunton 10k: race report

This post originally appeared on Ben’s old blog, Running From the Physio.

I came into the Taunton 10k without too much expectation. I’d only entered the event because my wife was running it, and she’d been forced to miss it due to ongoing chest problems. About a month earlier, I’d smashed my 10k PB, dropping it from 46:40 to 43:44, and in all honesty I felt like that run had been a bit of a flash in the pan. I certainly didn’t feel at all confident that I could reproduce it on the undulating course in Taunton. To add to this, I’d done some canoeing on the Friday night, and my legs felt all kinds of awful on Saturday. So it came as something of a surprise when I turned into the final stretch of the race and saw that the timer read 43:32, and I should get a move on. But I jump ahead of myself…

My own training had been a little haphazard for the month between the Battle of Sedgemoor 10k (BoS) and this one. I’d felt really sore for a few days after the BoS, and hadn’t got back out running until the following Friday, and then after only a few days of training, I picked up a nasty stomach bug which put me out for another week. That out of the way, I managed to get back into some sort of rhythm with my running, but wasn’t feeling as strong as I had before BoS. With a half marathon coming up in mid-October, I was worried about my long runs, and had considered squeezing this 10k into the middle of a longer run, sacrificing a good race time here for some valuable mileage. I managed to get a 10 mile run in the weekend before the race, and decided that gave me confidence enough for the half-marathon, and I could focus on the 10k as it deserved.

Running Forever RC were out in force for this race! *

I completed 5 one-mile reps at the track on Monday, at just slower than my intended race pace, and then went for a relaxed club run on the Wednesday. I skipped my normal Thursday run, and intended to go for a very relaxed parkrun with the buggy on Saturday morning. Canoeing aches scrapped that plan! Sunday morning I still felt pretty sore, but decided that I would go out and try to consolidate with a morale-boosting sub-45 time. Despite being my home 10k, I didn’t really know the course very well, having never managed to take part before (but with a couple of DNSs).

The undulations started almost immediately, and my confidence took a bit of a hit: with my sore legs, even the relatively mild inclines were burning, and it was only the first mile! I slotted in behind a couple of guys I knew ran around my pace from parkrun, and just focussed on not letting them get away from me. The first three kilometres went through residential Taunton, before a climb over the motorway and off towards the village of Stoke St Mary, which was roughly halfway around. As always, my pacing could do with some work: my first mile was the quickest of the race: 6:52, but then I settled into a pace just over 7-minute miles.

The support around the whole course was incredible, even through the country lanes there was a surprising number of people out to cheer us along, and being a member of a Taunton running club, Running Forever RC, I gained benefit from the “home support”. I won’t pretend that I knew even half of the people who cheered me on with cries of “Go Running Forever!”, but they all helped. As we rose over the motorway for the second time, I was buoyed by both the knowledge that this would be the last incline, and encouragement from club-mates Nadine and Dave: although the suggestion that I made it look “effortless” might have irked, I was certainly not finding it such!!

Effortless? Effortless?! Okay, I might like a little more relaxed than I felt… *

All that was left was a drop down the other side of the motorway and then a flat run for the line: but I couldn’t get too excited, there was still most of a kilometre left! I pushed on, pulling away from a lady that I had passed going up the hill, and soon found myself in no-man’s land: I couldn’t see any runners ahead of me, and there was no one close behind me. I hate that situation at the end of a race: I like a bit of a personal challenge: to either chase someone down, or to keep ahead of someone, so it was only when I turned that final corner and saw that I was on course for a PB that I had incentive to push on and actually sprint the final twenty or so metres.

I stopped my watch at 43:40, four seconds inside my previous best, and the following day it was confirmed as 43:39. So, despite not really feeling too positive about it before, either mentally or physically, it went pretty well! It has definitely given me a mental boost, knowing that my time at BoS wasn’t a one-off. I don’t have any 10k races scheduled for a while now, so this PB will hang around for a bit, but I now have confidence that I’m continuing to strengthen and improve as a runner, and hopefully by the next time I race the distance I can take a bit more off again!

In the mean time, I’ve got Exeter’s Great West Run (half marathon) in the middle of October, which is dominating my training for the next couple of weeks, and I’m taking part in a winter 5k series in Street, where I’m hoping to go sub-20 by the last race.

* Photo credits: Lainey Whitworth and Nadine Prouse.

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