After my duathlon was cancelled a few weeks ago, I was feeling a bit purposeless with running. Parkrun is going well but I wanted a race on the calendar. RunThrough was hosting a small 5 and 10k in Hyde Park so I decided to sign up. The route promised to be flat, so I thought it might be a good chance to try for that sub-50 10k one more time.
You see, I’ve been chasing this goal since 2012. Just one time in my life, I ran 49:59 for a 10k. It was a fast, mostly downhill course at the Toronto Sporting Life 10k and I was thrilled beyond measure to have snuck in under 50 minutes. I then spent the next SEVEN years chasing that goal.
Until now. I finally did it! And I didn’t just sneak in. I did it comfortably in a time of 48:49.
Well, I say “comfortably.” It wasn’t comfortable at all. For anyone that runs, you know that 5k and 10k (with perhaps the exception of the last 6 miles of a marathon) is the hardest kind of racing. It’s just a hard pace to maintain for that length of time.
I didn’t realise until the day before that this was a lapped course. Four 2.5k loops. I like a lapped course, but for a 10k race, this is mentally challenging. The first loop is good. The second one is OK. The third is an interminable, vast void of hell and the final one is a soul-crushing push to the finish.
That was pretty much my race in a nutshell, as you can see from photo evidence. The picture at the top of this post is on the first lap. This picture is the third lap.
At the start of the third lap, I decided to eat a Caffeine Bullet. I wouldn’t normally use gels or even have any water in a 10k race, but I had my sights set on the goal and I wanted every advantage. This seemed to do the trick, even if it was just the placebo effect of having extra power.
At around 7.5k, my watch stopped working. (Seriously, this is the story of my life with technology and running!) I was temporarily annoyed but I think it was a good thing in the end. I have been continuing the (technologically) naked running so I don’t know why I decided to time this run. As soon as the watch died, I felt calmer. I just ran the hardest pace I could maintain. Anytime I felt like slowing, I kept telling myself to push the pace. If that finish time was 50:01, I was going to be so mad at myself. I knew that it could come down to a matter of seconds so I just gave it all I had.
As I rounded the final corner to the finish line, I could see the clock. But only 49:– not the seconds! It was blocked by something. I was staring at it, willing it not to tick over to 50. The absolute devastation I would have felt would have been immense. When it finally came into to view and I saw that it said 49:16, a wave of relief washed over me. I bloody did it. Finally!
Of course, that was my finish time. The time from the official race start to the time I crossed the finish mat. My actual chip time, from the time I actually crossed the starting mat to the time I crossed the finish line was less: 48:49.
I went to this race alone. I don’t mind going to races alone. I’ve done it often and I like to just get in the zone by myself. Other people’s chatter and pre-race stuff sometimes makes me anxious. The downside of course, is that you have no one to share your accomplishment with at the end or take photos with you. Luckily, people at this race were so supportive and nice so it didn’t feel so lonesome.
Thanks to everyone who said nice things on Instagram when I posted about this race! It was nice to have the virtual support even if no one was there to high-five me in person.
It’s just April and I’ve already clocked my best 5k and 10k times of my whole life. Could it be due to the EMS training I’ve been doing? I am interested to see what I can do over a longer distance. Marathon season is in full-swing and I have to admit that I’m a little sad not be lining up at any of the big ones this year. But it’s still early. There’s lots of year left and hopefully, a few more PBs in there.
UPDATE (15 April, 2019): Just spotted this photo on the RunThrough Facebook page. Now this is the face of someone who has just seen the clock and realised they DID IT! Punched that sub-50 goal right in the face! Love this! ALSO, seems I won the RunThrough social media highlight contest which means I get a free entry to a future event! I’m thrilled!