This weekend I completed my first 10K race.
It was hard.
I finished in 1 hour, 18 minutes and 37 seconds.
It was also slow.
The race was around the grounds of the Englefield House, and it was chosen as the running club’s European Tour race for this year. By ‘tour’ we mean a race that’s a bit different followed by a trip to a nearby pub.
We (my boyfriend and I) got up at 6:30am on Sunday morning, got all of our running stuff together, picked my Mum and her husband up and went to catch a coach for 8:15am.
The bus journey took just over an hour. By the time we got there we had to wait about an hour and a half, but it went quite quickly with a few photos and a lot of chat. It was soon 10:50am and time to head for the start ready to go at 11.
The race started along a gravel and dirt (mud) track. I started at the back so as not to get in anyone’s way (I know my speed). About half way up the track we could already see the people at the front a good half a kilometre ahead. That’s when you know you need to run your own race. I’ll never catch up to them!
The track turned onto long grass and proceeded up a hill. A very steep hill. This was the first kilometre; a gravel and dirt track and a long, steep hill. Many people had already decided to start walking by this point.
Once up the hill, we got to have a bit of a rest going down the other side. The under 15s race had started shortly after the 10K. I don’t know the whole route they took, but it started up the same hill. Children don’t seem to notice hills. Several of them came speeding past me as I was on my way down, not one of them gave a puff (I could hear every one of my breaths). A couple even cheered me on!
Going down the hill was good to an extent. However, one long, uneven, slightly damp grass it is tricky to keep balance. When I say it is a bit of a rest I really do only mean a bit.
Most of the course became flat after the second kilometre marker. You’d think this would be a good thing, but I don’t train on grass all that often. It turns out grass is really hard to run on when you’re not used to it. Uncut grass is particularly tiring. I spent most of the next couple of kilometres hoping for some gravel again.
And then we got to the end of a field and got road! It was just before half way and it was smooth and even and much needed. It was also short lived. After a quick drink at one of the stations (there were two on the course) we went around a corner, past a few houses and back into fields. More long grass.
By now, I was tired, but my legs weren’t hurting as much as when I started and my breathing was heavy, but even and controlled. Overall, I felt okay.
I soon found my way to the eight kilometre marker and the hardest kilometre of the course. It went up along the width of a field, then down a bit on the top edge of the field. Then it went up a bit and down a bit and up a bit and down a bit and so forth. But not only was this field undulating, it sloped down, so we were actually running side-on to the hill, while going up and down. My feet were at such funny angles, going down was almost as hard as going up.
I was very pleased to see the last down of that section, but wanted to cry when I saw the final hill. It just got steeper. This was the point I considered walking, but I knew if I did I would probably just stop. The last 10 steps were the hardest I’ve ever taken. My legs hurt, my chest hurt, I could hardly breathe and still didn’t seem to be going very far.
But I made it to the top and the nine kilometre marker. It was all down from there. I managed to get my breath enough to return to the speed I’d kept for the rest of the course, hailed the pub as I ran past two officials who said it was nearly over, and found the gravel and dirt track that would take me to the finish line. I even found the energy to pick up my speed for the last 100m (it felt like a sprint, but it really wasn’t).
I have now done my first 10K race: 6.2 miles almost completely on grass.
It was slow, but I have been told it was one of the hardest 10K races I could have started with. Even the fastest runners in our club ran at least 5 minutes slower than usual.
There are a few things I have taken away from this event:
- It’s a good idea to train on grass. I’ve now agreed to do a series of cross country races throughout winter, so that should help me out on that front.
- I like hills. Not so much going up, but what goes up must come down and you don’t get to go down on a flat run.
- I might be slow, but I’m too stubborn to walk. I didn’t sign up to walk, so I won’t do it. I’ll just go a bit slower instead.
- I now have a personal best and it’s actually beatable, which means I’ll feel even better about the next 10K.
- The pub is a really strong incentive. Yay pub!