Wednesday night was the last race that I had booked in my Summer of Fun flurry of action. There was no bling to be had, no goody bag and no T-Shirt, which is not the best motivation for running a race. What the Phoenix did have though was a reputation as a fast flat course and, that suited one of my aims for a summer that was all about speed. After my unexpectedly good performance at the Horsham 10k I had decided that this summer would be incomplete without a sub 45 minute 10k, and this was going to be it. My last ‘target’ race was Manchester Marathon in the spring and this was the first 10k I had ever run for a specific time.
Thursday last week I ran a good session at track and had a little chat with the coach. I was given a target pace. In my own inimitable style I stopped thinking about the actual time because now I had a plan. Admittedly it was a simple plan, there was no complicated negative split racing strategy just one pace to stick too and then give it everything you have for the last km. Blinkers on 7 minute miles burned into my psyche I was ready to go. Of course over the weekend I began to think about it a little more. This was going to be a tall order, not really much fun at all, still I wanted to be quick and this pace would certainly tick that box. In fact it would be quicker than all but one of my parkrun times. I began to get nervous. How the hell was I going to run 2 of my fastest ever 5k’s back to back?
All during Wednesday I was twitchy with my legs jiggling and my mind wandering to the challenge. Running friends had told me that with my current form a sub 45 should be possible and I knew that. All the evidence pointed towards it but there is a difference between knowing something is possible and actually believing it. Still this was not about belief this was about something else, something I learnt in Manchester. I had a plan, all I had to do was stick the fuck to it. On the car ride down to Brighton there wasn’t too much talking, and when we arrived the wife went off to find my daughter who was visiting Brighton and get something to eat. She wasn’t really interested and I was slipping further into ‘the zone’, that small little piece of existence where nothing else exists or can be taken in except ‘the plan’.
There were other club members there and I know I spoke to them but the only thing I can remember was a swift calculation that a friend made. I had not even considered what time my 7 minute pace would bring me in at but, according to him it was going to be well under the 45 that was the marker between elation and misery. We lined up in nicely separated pens, a genius plan for a 10k where normally you are bundled in together and have to fight your way through the pack to find people matching your pace. So standing at the back of the 40-44 minute group I waited. Then we were off. Garmin started, line crossed.
I admit I got a bit carried away in the first mile. It was a touch quicker than the 7 minutes I was aiming for and, it might explain why the next 5 ranged between 7:01 and 7:06 however, the final sprint to the finish compensated for this a little, but I am getting ahead of myself. There is not really very much that can be said about this race, it’s a straight out and back from the lawns at the Hove end of Brighton seafront, up to the power station at Shoreham and, then back again. The first and last mile and a half you can see the sea and you run past a few cafés and beach huts. Along those stretches there was some support and cheering which is always a bonus. The three miles in the middle though is horrendous. If you have done Brighton marathon you know exactly what I am talking about. The route takes you through an industrial estate past the wonderful aroma of ripening fish. It’s not a nice run. Still I kept my legs ticking over settled down and relaxed into it slightly and ground out the miles. My chip time was 43:49 an average pace according to my Garmin of 7:01 so not too far off target and well inside the 45 minutes I was aiming for.
Most of my friends there managed to run a bloody good time and there were many other PB’s set. One friend ran this 10k in the same time it took them to run their first 5k. That alone is a huge buzz that kind of progress and achievement. In the after run banter it was agreed that even though everyone hates hills one at least might have been nice, just to break the run up a bit. It was relentless in it’s monotony and the last mile was an absolute torment with the end never seeming to get any closer.
For the last year I have managed to reach every goal I have set myself which gives me confidence for the next big race, Valencia. If my long term plan is to succeed I should run it in under 3:45 but I have Brighton in the spring as a backup. It’s an amazing confidence boost and quite satisfying to think that I may actually be being realistic about my ambitions sometimes it’s easy to be doubtful, but time I guess will tell.