I could probably sum up this race in one word:
Is Ugh even a word? Or just a noise to express distaste?? Anyway, that’s what it was! The whole race was just Ugh. I had some goals which I shared on Saturday. I did not meet them. Well, actually I suppose I met my C goal, which was to finish injury free! My knee felt surprisingly well all race, it was just the rest of me that didn’t!
The Swansea 10k is a strange race, in that it starts at 1pm which is a weird time. I did however LOVE the fact that I could have a lie in on race day. I’m not one for early mornings! However a 1pm race makes fuelling a bit tricky. We had chicken and rice on Saturday night which is generally our standard pre-race meal (it just works for us) and then Saturday morning we had an apple when we woke up and then avocado and poached egg on toast at about 11am. This was because last year I remember I got really hungry during the race and I didn’t want to repeat that. The avo and egg at 11 seemed to work well. I wasn’t hungry when we started the race, or when we finished. I did have a banana about 30 minutes before as well and again that seemed fine. I didn’t feel full and uncomfortable when running.
We lined up at about 12:50. There were over 2000 runners this year. We stood right at the back in the 60+ minute section. There is no wishful thinking here, I know I’m 60+ minutes, I just didn’t quite realise how much +60 I would be this year!!!
The gun went, we moved slowly forward, crossed the line about 3-4 minutes after the start. I started my Garmin, which turned out to be a pointless way of keeping time as I forgot to stop it again at the end, doh! Off I went. Feeling good to begin with. Gideon was gone straight away, but that was fine, he’s faster than me and I wanted him to do his best effort. Everything was ok for the first 2-ish miles, although it felt like a very long slog.
Somewhere between miles two and three things started to go downhill. The sun had emerged, and it was actually really humid. Typically it came out for about 1 hour during the whole day, which just happened to be racing hour! I was starting to really tire, and with the aftermath of the Swansea half marathon still haunting me and the knowledge that training for this race had not been great, I decided to add in some walk breaks. I think I’m still feeling a bit afraid of pushing myself to hard after what happened in June as it was an unpleasant experience, so I’m not surprised I made that decision really.
I should mention, that the Swansea 10k is an out and back course. Out along the road, and back along the promenade, but there are parts of the course where you can see the runners on the other side quite clearly. It starts to be continuous as you get close to the 5k turnaround point, and as someone already struggling I found it really quite demoralising seeing everyone else so much further ahead of me, on their way back to the finish when I hadn’t even made the turnaround yet and was still really far from it. I think this is the problem I have with all Swansea races (as they are almost always out and back along the front). I don’t want to see how much better people are doing than me. I just want it to be me, and the few people running at the same speed around me, not the hundreds and hundreds of faster people. I find it really demoralising. I definitely think I do better mentally on non out-and-back courses!
Gradually, I just started feeling worse and worse both mentally and physically. I could tell I was running out of energy. I was starting to walk more and everything was cramping up. I was also really really hot. It was slow slow going, getting slower by the second. This is the point where I really could have used a pick me up. In previous races I’d have taken a Clif Shot about now, but the Swansea half aftermath has put me off those as well. I was basically afraid to annoy my stomach with anything it might reject. So I didn’t have anything, and I totally conked!
At about 8k I think I came as close to hitting ‘the wall’ as I have ever come. I know your not supposed to hit a wall in a 10k that’s a marathon thing, but I just felt like I had nothing left. No energy for anything. I just kept walking briskly, but even that was knackering. I tried to run again for short bursts, but they never lasted long before I was out of energy again. As we got to the last 400m I gave myself a mental slap and plodded my way without stopping to the finish line, but what a plod it was, I honestly felt like I was hardly moving AT ALL.
My chip time was 1 hr 19 minutes 3o seconds. A whole 8 minutes slower than last years time!!! Super rubbish!! I was feeling so down about it that when I eventually found Gideon I had a weepy moment and got all upset about how crap I am. (Gideon had a much better race, by the way, he finished in 1 hour 9 minutes, which is so good considering he couldn’t run for ages because of surgery).
Now that I have had time to reflect I have decided that I am not crap. It was a horrible race, but there are many lessons I can learn from it. Here are a few:
- If you don’t train up to standard your run isn’t going to be up to standard. Pretty obvious statement there, but I can’t expect to run a PB and have an amazing race if I haven’t trained well. And I didn’t train well this time around. I was mediocre at best, so why should I expect the race to be amazing. If I want to run my best I need to train my best.
- I need to find some sort of natural fuel I can take during the race. Or something anyway. The Swansea half experience has put me off the clif shots and I don’t like gels, so if anyone has any suggestions for ways to get some energy during the race please let me know. After Sundays experience I know I need something, I just don’t know what would be best.
- Out and back races are not good for my mental state! I’ve hated every Swansea race I’ve done and I think I’ve finally figured out why. I’m going to look for some races that are not out and back to try next year. Maybe Cardiff? Need to test my theory.
Finally, I may well have given up half way round the course if it had not been for the fact that I was running this race for a charity close to my heart – Children of Hope. That thought absolutely got me to the finish line. The children who live on the streets in Kenya that are helped by Children of Hope suffer a lot worse than I did during that hour and 20 minutes. So far, I’ve raised £160 (you can still donate here if you would like) which will go towards rescuing a child from those terrible conditions and placing them back into a loving, stable, home environment. I can endure an hour and 20 minutes of hell for that, and I would do it again. That alone made all the effort worthwhile!