Guest blog: Romy’s 10k race of the year
Romy is a friend and fellow runner from Glasgow. Her goal in 2012 has been to run a sub-40 minute 10k. This is no easy challenge, especially as she became a mum just 15 months ago. Here she writes about her recent Glasgow 10k race.
She writes: I am still fast asleep when my alarm goes off at 8am. My head is a bit heavy and I feel cold, but once I could finally fall asleep, I had a solid 8 hours’ sleep. I felt a bit under the weather yesterday, and had a long nap in the afternoon and some down-time on the couch. Today I am better, but still not quite as perky as I had hoped, and part of me would really like to stay in bed. But I know that I am well enough to get up and race the Glasgow 10K and give it my best shot.
It’s 8.15 when I have my pre-race Weetabix, followed by a 15min snooze and play in bed with my son Ayden, who is 15 months old. By the time I get up it’s 8.30. I am quick at getting dressed, putting my contacts in, and heading off on the bike at about 8.40 to cycle up towards Glasgow Green. As I head out on the bike I feel like my right contact lens has moved a little, or hasn’t? I don’t have time for too much faffing around today, so I start pedalling. I am feeling really shivery (is it the cold? Or just the nerves?) and my teeth are rattling. I see a few runners here and there heading the same way, and there are more and more the closer I get to the city centre. My mouth is really dry and more and more reasons come into my head as to why it’s a really bad idea to do this. But no time for faffing, “just put your head down and get on with it,” I tell myself.
The cycle from my house to the finish is basically the last 3K of the race, so I am rattling with nerves, thinking that I will be running here shortly, wondering how I will be feeling at that point in the race. I cycle around Glasgow Green and lock my bike up against the railings, take my top off and lock everything up, and start a gentle warm up jog. I am still shivery and cold, my calves and hamstrings feel tight and I tell myself that I need to jog for at least 10 mins to get a proper warm up. It’s 8.52 when I head off, and just after 9 when I reach George Square, after a few laps of Merchant City. I can see the crowds, hear the music and the adrenaline is pumping even more. I am still feeling cold but a fellow Bellahouston Road Runner gives me her spare GSR T-Shirt to put over my racing top.
I proceed do a warm up, then find a toilet and then line up at the start of the race. The adrenaline is rushing. I am so nervous. Am I prepared? This is it, a few minutes to go and we’re off!
This is the course I set my PB on in 2008 (41’09’’), which was followed by an injury that saw me take 12 months off from running. In 2009, I slowly got back into running and finished the GSR 10K in about 47mins and knew I was back. Pregnancy saw me take some more time off running and when I got back into it properly in August 2011 I made a plan that for 2012 I was going to focus on running a fast 10K, get back to my PB, beat it, and (ideally) get a sub40 10K time. In November, I joined the Bellahouston Road Runners and have been training and racing with them – some cross country races over the winter, a few hills runs, and then a series of 10Ks in the spring, culminating in the Bella Harriers 10K on June 22 with a time of 41’09’’ – matching my PB.
Earlier in the year I had written a blog for FionaOutdoors to make my list of the things I wanted to do to get to my goal: Hard training, at least one interval session a week; off road and hill runs; stretching and yoga; not more than 2-3 runs a week; regular massage; getting back to race weight. Apart from the last one, I stuck with everything more or less, and I was feeling fast, and on track.
Last week, just two days after coming back from a work trip to the US, I took part in the Paisley 10K, which was supposed to be a warm up run for the GSR 10K. I got 40’35’’. A PB, and not a bad race, but I felt like my tactics were off, I started too slow and couldn’t get the pace back up, but managed a fast sprint finish (which was proof to me that I hadn’t worked hard enough on the run). I had made a whole list of reasons why I could beat that time at the Glasgow 10K: It was a better course, some hills (which suited me), more support, I wasn’t jetlagged anymore, better tactics… and I had planned it to be “the race of my year”.
Still, taking 35 seconds off is quite a lot, and the Paisley 10K was a reality check.
So here I am, at the start, and the gun goes off, this is it! I love the sound of feet rattling on the ground at the start of a race, hitting the pavement, while you just hear the runners’ heavy breathing. We’re heading up St Vincent Street and I am feeling strong on the hill; the downhill leading into Partick allows me to stretch my legs. I look at my watch and it says 6’30’’ which means I have missed the first kilometre marker, but I stay calm and stick with my pace, which feels okay. My legs are tight and I am pushing hard, but I can’t quite tell if I am running as fast as I think. I miss the 2K marker as well but when I reach 3K, my watch says 11m58s. Sigh of relief!! But perhaps looking at my watch was a bad idea, because by 4k, I am way off pace, 16m20?? That last kilometre definitely didn’t feel like a 4’20’’K, so I am wondering if the markers are off. So I can’t risk it and I pick up the pace a bit anyway.
My watch says just under 20mins when I can see the 5K marker and I follow my husband’s advice: “It’s just a few seconds per kilometre, so when you see the marker, just pick up the pace until you pass it.” My watch clocks 20’05’’at the 5K marker and I know I can do this. I know there are more hills in the first half of the race and a slight downhill on the last two kilometres, so I am hanging in there. But the zig-zagging course around Pollockshields is hillier than I remember, and I am struggling. I am also missing quite a few of the markers and when I reach 7K I am over 28mins again, around 28’25’’.
I know now that it’s going to be tight, and I after what happened last week, I give up the dream of a sub40 time for now, but, of course I am still working hard. The 7K marker is also the place I was expecting to my little boy and my husband cheering me on, but can’t spot their faces.
So now we’re on the home straight, heading down Pollockshaws Road towards the river. As we pass the Gorbals cross, I am expecting the loud music from previous years, but the stand is not there and it’s quiet. There are runners in front and behind me but there’s hardly a big crowd, and I am on my own with my pace. Then we’re heading over the bridge, and I know there’s the left turn and then into Glasgow Green where the finish is.
I have no idea how much further it is in terms of distance, having missed the 8K and 9K markers, but when I head along the Clyde my watch says 38’35’’. Nearly a minute and a half! Now I know where the finish is, so I pick up the pace and dig deep. I can do this! But when I enter Glasgow Green and see how far into the park the actual finish line is, I am disheartened a little. I am hanging on to my pace for dear life, staring at the clock in front of me that is starting to blur. Supporters are shouting on either side of the railings but I can’t hear or see anything (where were you lot when I needed you?), as I am heading towards the clock. I can see now that it reads 39’45’’ but I am not there yet… I keep pushing and finally reach the line, stop my watch and start swearing: 40’06’’! So close!
I am walking slowly and after the initial swearing, I am actually quite pleased. I feel like I ran a good race, I gave it everything, and I know now, more than ever, than I CAN run 10K under 40minutes, and I WILL do it. The year is not over, and I am still going strong. I know this was a solid race, and I can build on this in the next few months. Although technically, I have already reached my goal of beating my 10K PB, so perhaps this is a good moment to say a quick thank you to the Bellahouston Road Runners for their warm welcome, especially the guys in the A group for their encouragement in the last few weeks. To Mark Russell, Matt Williamson, Pamela Andrews and Joanne for fixing my legs after I messed them up; and to Wes, as always, for his support and for letting me out to play. 😉
I hobble to the holistic area and join the girls from Run 4 It for a nice rub down, before drinking my recovery drink and gently cycling home. My legs are stiff, but in a good way! My work is not done though and after a quick shower and a little rest, Ayden and I head out again to cheer on the runners of the Glasgow Half Marathon. I think back on my half marathon PB of 1’34’’ and recall that when I used to do marathons, this was my preferred distance, so perhaps there’s a plan for 2013 already forming in my head… but let’s finish the sub40 goal first!