Conditions on arrival were ideal: cool, sunny, no wind. The course is more or less totally flat. Goal was a sub 60 with the additional goals of pushing hard into the red zone, maintaining strong mental form throughout and being competitive right through to the finish. Sub 60 is a tall ask on the best of days, and we're well into the off season. This was going to be interesting.
Breakfast involved an apple, a pear, 2 cups of coffee from various train stations and 2 croissants during the 3 hours to start time. My that's the breakfast of champions Howard. Hey it's only a 10 miler right? What could possibly go wrong?
I started close to the front. It took 10s to cross the start after the gun, 10s which they did not take off my official race time the buggers - I'm going with my watch time. Even so, as always there were a bunch of muppets up there who had seeded themselves in totally the wrong place. I looked over at a guy in a devil costume, sporting a foolish grin and carrying a plastic trident in front of me. I won't repeat what I thought. Maybe this is not such a bad thing - it meant my first 2 miles were a little slow rather than being crazy adrenaline induced fast, and also meant I was overtaking people throughout the race. After mile 1 nobody came past me.
I settled into a good rhythm and felt strong. Miles 2-6 felt fine with a decent pace. I noticed my auto lap mile function on my GPS watch (Garmin 310XT) seemed to be a number of metres down on the mile markers, and this got more pronounced throughout the race. My final distance showed 315 metres over 10 miles. The course is accurate so don't know what the hell was going on with the watch.
After the 6 mile marker I had to start really focusing - I knew if I could get to the 8 mile marker in good shape, I'd be able to push home. At this point another runner asked me what I was looking for and I said sub 60. Me too, he said, and this is my 6th attempt. Good luck mate, it's going to be tough, I replied as cheerfully as I could.
As it happened we ran together to the finish and encouraged each other when it got tough. Usually I don't like someone hanging on my shoulder but I was glad to have this guy there. We had to catch runners ahead of us - holding position was tempting but would just not be good enough, and we slowly bridged from one runner to the next.
At the 9 mile marker I felt pretty rough but my running partner was pushing on and shouting encouragement. I practised another mental technique (I'll cover this in my next post), clearing the mind - I relaxed, focused on my breathing, on my rhythm and just staying with my new running partner. Disassociate from the pain - not far to go. With 800m left he started to breathe really heavily and let out a couple of groans. Keep With It! I shouted, Keep With It! He immediately settled down.
And finally the finishing straight with a runner close ahead. I had no real desire for a sprint finish but there was my running partner / mobile support crew shouting Go On, Take Him! Gee thanks, because you know what, I feel real energetic right now!! HTFU Howard, HTFU.
59:17 with all goals achieved. I maintained a strong mental attitude throughout, I practised positive self talk and clearing the mind, I dug deep and endured some good old fashioned red zone pain and stayed competitive right to the finish line. Oh yeah, and did I mention I shat myself? Actually that goal wasn't on the list, it was just an added bonus.
Average Pace 5:56 per mile, 3:41 per km
Average HR 179