Last week I ran the East Neuk 10k. I had been in need of a running race to get me motivated again and it had taken a great deal of HTFU pills and cajoling from my other half to register. It was an out-and-back course over a mixture of tarmac and rough, rubbly farm tracks in a not-by-the-sea section of the Fife coast.
Sold. Wait… Ok Sold. There might be fish and chips at the end.
As it turns out, it was an absolutely BEAUTIFUL day. The sun was splitting the skies as we drove an hour from home to Anstruther up the dodgy A roads. Of course, my phobia of being cold and the freezing cold morning that belied the coming Mediterranean day meant that I very much overdressed. A decision I would regret almost the second I hit start on my Garmin.
The race started and finished at Waid Academy and was well marshalled and supported. I had been really nervous about this race. Mostly because it was my first running race since the tri and I was worried I had possibly forgotten how to run. Of course I hadn’t. And yes I’d been for a few other ‘jogs’ since Feldy… But I just wasn’t getting the pace I wanted. The other reason I was apprehensive was the list of entrants. 90% of the 200 people entered were affiliated with a club. I know clubs are mixed ability but generally, these smaller races are more popular with people who are sub 55 minutes on a 10k. I’m just pleased to get under 65 minutes.
Convincing myself that I wouldn’t be last and that 65 minutes is still a solid 10k effort 4 weeks post middle-distance, I stood on the start line. Baking.
Here’s how the conversation with myself went that morning:
Cold Bean: “Ronhill shorts will be fine. But I always get cold arms. Go with the Brooks top.”
Colder Bean: “Are you MENTAL? No. We’ll go Adidas Climawarm. You’ve done an 18 miler in that in 15 degrees and you managed.”
Cold Bean: “Meh. OK. I can roll the sleeves up”
Stupid, stupid girls. I had rolled the sleeves up before I even got to the start line.
Anyway. I had planned to run the first 5km at my current PB pace of 6min20s per km. Then after 5km, if everything was holding together, I would start to speed up a little. This was basically shot to shit the minute I set off way too fast and then spent the next hour melting. Literally melting. For the first time ever in a race, I didn’t drink all the water I was given at 5k. I downed a sip and the poured the rest down my top and over my head. About 15 seconds of minimal relief. I was still managing to hold a strong pace though.
Around 7km, I heard some heavy breathing behind me and met a girl called Lesley who was dragging herself around her first ever 10k, and first official race en route to the Edinburgh half marathon next may. She was in a world of hurt so I tried to cheer her with some happy thoughts and encouragement. It seemed to work and she was soon picking up a bit of pace again. Speaking to Lesley reminded me of something I ponder a lot when I’m running: Every race is someone’s first race. Every time you toe the start line of any event, it could be someone’s first. Aberfeldy was my first triathlon where the support and camaraderie of my fellow athletes was nothing short of wonderful.
I often think back over my journey and how far I’ve come. My 10k time may still be over 60 minutes but it’s so much faster than when it was 80 minutes. I don’t make half the mistakes I used to save for the occasional wardrobe miscalculation. I definitely enjoy running more these days too. And that’s the whole point, isn’t it?
As I crossed the line I was scooped up by Brian who promptly realised why I was broken and let go because SWEATY. I resisted the urge to tank my bottle of water and sipped slowly while chewing on a dextrose tablet administered by a kind soul who took pity.