First Race of 2013

The Run Richmond Park 10k organised by The Fix UK was my first race of 2013. I was ready for this race as I had been training regularly and hard, I was familiar with the route, and I had clear expectations of what I wanted to achieve.

At the end of 2012 I had completed the same course in a personal race best time of 46m 48s and so I was expecting a very similar time. Also I wanted to start near the front of the pack and run alongside the runners who were at the level I wanted to be at.

This race is also an important stepping stone in my training. I have half marathons in two and four weeks’ time and so this race is important to check how my training is going, help get me race fit, and to get some practice at running at pace without split times.

I deliberately queued up very closed to the front at the start and noticed all the other runners around me were continually warming up – further back this never happens as people warm up and then stand in the queue stationary at length, and I have always wondered why.

As the race started a large pack quickly formed at the front but I could only just about keep up with a couple of runners at the tail. A few people gradually overtook me and I in turn overtook a few other people but generally I was running about the pace I wanted to be at.

The route has three parts to it – a hilly first section with lots of peaks and drops as the track winds round to Richmond Gate, a tarmac second section alongside the main road, and then a grass section leading back ground to the start and finish at Sheen Gate.

Normally I try to maintain pace during the first section so as to not lose too much time, push hard in the second section to try to make up some time lost from the first section, and then I am naturally a fast runner on grass so use the final section to make up places.

Recent heavy rain had significantly affected the course – the first part of the course contained many large and muddy puddles meaning the path was quite congested with other runners and also casual runners and cyclists all aiming for the same dry patches.

I was hoping to use the final part of the lap to make up time but as I stepped onto the grass for the first time I realised it was a quagmire and so just staying upright was the priority. People were passing me and I could see my advantage slipping away.

Generally I felt comfortable, I was pushing reasonably hard, and I didn’t have a huge amount left. This was how I felt for most of the race. I didn’t have an extra gear as I was pushing hard in the gear I was in. I wasn’t at my maximum but I was keeping a good general pace.

I tried to get closer to my maximum but I couldn’t do it and wasn’t sure why. I could feel I had something left in my legs, and I definitely had some stamina left, but for some reason couldn”t coax it out, not even in a sprint for the line. I finished the race shattered.

This was the first time that I could see that the training is giving me that little bit of extra strength but it was too early and not defined enough yet for me to be able to use it. I came away from the race wanting to train longer and harder in order to tap into this strength.

I was slightly disappointed to be slower than last time, although very happy to be in the top 15% of finishers, and I know I was affected by the muddy conditions and also I picked up a chill and wasn’t able to shake this off during the race.

I do want to be challenging the top ten in these local 10k races, and also comfortably being able to run the distance in 45 minutes so that a 100-minute half marathon is on the cards, so I will focus on pace and strength over the next two weeks in preparation for Eton Dorney.