So quick dash up to the registration desk to pick up my number (and I got a hat - lovely memento for the day), then a nice easy warm-up run to the starting line.
As is my habit, I headed straight to the back of the starting crowd. Not the very last one to start, I was still in the last 10% to cross the starting line: less temptation to start out fast and run out of steam halfway. I tend to get lost in the moment and caught up in the vibe too easily, which doesn't do my race any favours. So forcing myself to start slow is my current strategy, and it has worked out very well for me so far. Today was no different.
Starting out at 5:45 per km pace, faster than I'd planned but I was feeling strong and the pace felt easy and maintainable, so I stuck to it. I had to consciously hold back more than once when my feet tried to nudge me down to 5:30 pace...
After the first 2 or 3km, I was nicely warmed up, and let my legs take a little more control and bring down my pace to 5:30. Which still felt fairly calm and relaxed and just right. The route was lovely, out on the country roads outside of the town. Fresh air, and not as cold as it had seemed at the start. At 5km there was a bit of a hill. Nothing crazy but enough to slow me down a little. I pushed a little here, not wanting to slow too much, and before I knew it the hill was over and I was cruising along again, trying to catch my breath after the burst of effort. Up to 7km there was another bump or two in the gradient, but nothing quite as steep as the first one. Easy cruising up and over: I was feeling surprisingly strong still!! And looking down at my Garmin, I was shocked at the pace I was hitting: 5:15, and below!!!
So, 7km done, 3 to go, and there has to be some downhill after all the climbing done so far, so why not keep going at that pace and see what I can do?? I had been planning on an easy 58 minute 10K, but now it was looking like 55 or 56. I'd managed to sneak in below 55min at the Tipp 10K last year, which I didn't think I'd do today, but might get close anyway. Good enough, considering I was aiming for 58...!
Somewhere before the 5km hill I'd passed a guy in a bright shirt, and he soon caught me again, and we ended up running most of the race together. Little bit of talking, lots of pace-pushing. I think we were both determined not to fall behind. Suited me fine, as this strategy was pulling my pace down to 5:00 and even dipping below at times. Completely unexpected and felt amazing to be moving so fast (for me this was way quicker than my standard 10K pace, even nudging below my standard 5K pace)!!! I was feeling strong and light on my feet and just loving the moment! 8km come and gone, and the pace still blazing! 9km, flying! By this point I was starting to feel the exertion catching up to me, but with less than a km to go I decided to give it all I had and push the last bit. I was no longer checking my pace at this point, but knew I was below 5:00min/km. My eyes were glued to the time: 49 minutes and less than half a mile to go!!! 50 minutes: 600m. 51: 400m... 52: 200m and I can see the finish line. My 10K PB dates back to September 2008: 53:06. I can beat it, but I have to move, move, move!!!!! 100m... 50m... And DONE!!!!!
Check my Garmin and I had to let out a yell: 52 minutes and 56 seconds!!!!! 10 whole seconds off my 6 1/2 year standing PB. And I was still feeling strong. Tired, very tired, but strong enough to use the distance back to my car as a cooldown jog. It felt wrong to walk after that.
After downloading my Garmin logs, I received another very pleasant and unexpected shock: my last 4 splits were at a pace that I'd never imagined possible, especially at the end of a 10K!!
So in all an amazing race, completely unexpected and great fun. I'm still smiling at the memory :-)
I've enjoyed running since I first started back in 2006, but it's days like this that remind me how exceptional the sport can be - how entering my 9th year as a runner I'm still able to surprise myself and achieve new personal records, push myself beyond my perceived limits. This year is going to be a memorable year! Many more boundaries to push, limits to test, goals to achieve. Hello and welcome to 2015! Angela Ross Innes.