Exbury 10k – 18 March 2012

10k map

10km route and speed/elevation chart

It was one of my New Year’s resolutions, and today I ticked it off the list – run, and finish, a 10k race.

In hindsight, picking a race that was consistently uphill for the second half was a terribly bright choice, but I can hold my head up high with some personal stats:

  • completion in 59’53” – not bad for a hilly course
  • first three miles in 27″15 – well, it was downhill
  • race position #260 out of 363 finishers (and approximately 450 registered starters – so 87 no-shows or gave up)
  • the last race I did was in 1995 – 10k in 57″30′ and that was totally flat – so I’m not too concerned about being two minutes slower

I’ve also learned a few things which I’ll put into play next time (yes, I think there will be a next time!):

  • I would have been better off with a protein bar ahead of the race than a protein shake – six miles of sloshing around wasn’t the best
  • I really must try to go at a consistent speed – the first half of the run was too fast and hampered me on the way back
  • I should carry something to drink – I’m pretty sure I needed a slurp around the 7km mark and had to wait until I’d finished

But, all things considered, I had a good run and I clocked a time I’m happy with – and one I can improve.

Any suggestions, running hints, or race tactics always welcome.

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Pride comes before a fall

I can’t help wondering whether some of the aphorisms we learned as children are self-fulfilling prophesies, some are borne from experience, some simply to scare children, and finally some which are utter nonsense.  Of course, the trick is telling which ones are which – remember the story, and pick your own category:

  • Carrots don’t help us see in the dark – but too many will turn you orange.
  • Easting the crusts of the bread won’t make my hair curly nor put it on my chest.
  • So far, going out in the rain hasn’t made me catch the death of a cold – although I do believe that the Italians could suffer from a hit of air (see an earlier blog).
  • And if it made us go blind then there would be a lot of blind people in the world!

But what made me think of this today was “pride comes before a fall”.  I felt pretty good after my training 10k on Monday, and then interval training on Tuesday, and so I expected today’s gentle 4 miler to be reasonably straightforward. And because of that complacency I didn’t everything wrong – a heavy lunch, heavy legs (although that sounds like a French complaint), and overall tiredness.  Lesson learned and I won’t be doing that again – but at least I made the mistake now rather than on the day of the race!

Anyone else done something similar?

Reality check II

As I have blogged before, in a few weeks time I’m running in a 10k race and so I went for a run outside today and achieved my objective: completion in less than an hour. Provided that I keep up the training regime from Amy, I now have a positive mental belief that I can complete the course and in a time with which I’ll be happy.

The first mile was hard going while my legs warmed up, and when I got to the four mile mark I knew I was going to finish. Having run the distance I know that I can run the distance – it will just be down to preparation, timing, and how the day goes.

But why do I mention this again so soon? Early this afternoon I was feeling pretty good – and then I had a telephone call. Continue reading

Reality check

My race number arrived in the post today (one of my resolutions!) and, in truth, I’m a little excited. And a little nervous too, because getting the race number means there’s not long to go and it’s all a bit real.

But sometimes we need the reality check to remind us that tasks have to be done: where would we be without deadlines and targets? Can anyone say that when the travel agent asks for the balance of payment it doesn’t cause a frisson of excitement because it means the holiday is getting nearer?

As the freight train of a deadline rushes headlong towards us there are two options, the same instincts which kept our ancestors alive: fight or flight. And that reactive mechanism is itself triggered by a reality check – for example, is this lion going to eat me? And the fact that we’re all here today does tend to suggest that our ancestors were, at least in part, successful.

So, to my mind at least, a reality check helps me focus and sometimes to produce my best work because I haven’t got time to think about a rough draft to be improved over time, I have to produce a result or live with the consequences. As some academics have put it for their particular reality, publish or perish.

And as I said before, procrastination just isn’t an option.

So, what gives you a reality check – and how do you react?

Happy thoughts #4 (and a bit of philosophy)

Two weeks into the new year and Christmas seems so long ago.  Do we wish our lives away, lurching from weekend to weekend, from one public holiday to the next, and ultimately from vacation to vacation?  Is there merit in saving for a rainy day, or should we live for the moment?  Is it better to regret what we did, or rue the opportunities that we missed?

This moment will only come once, this day will never be repeated, so should we be more concerned with what we can do and achieve today than being the donkey chasing the elusive carrot?  That’s not to say that we shouldn’t lay the foundations for something bigger and better, or strive to complete today’s part of a much bigger task, but is yearning for the next day off enriching our lives?

Rudyard Kipling’s “If” encapsulates this concept in the last few lines (and maybe you’ll be inspired to read the rest of the poem):

If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!

And it is partly in this context that I like to think of my happy thoughts – what has made this week special, and not simply the filler between Sunday and Saturday?  A couple of good runs – one of five miles over particularly hilly terrain, and another of four where I pushed a friend to do it in a personal best time (of recent years anyway).

Still on the same theme, I’m going to fill the unforgiving minute – and with Amy’s help and encouragement I’m going to register for a 10k.  I might post details when it’s complete,

Exercise

Even my mother would never have described me as sporty or athletic or svelte. But despite the fact that gym lessons at school were a tacit agreement that I probably had an excuse note (the teacher decided never to ask me to produce it, and I reciprocated by never offering), I now enjoy my exercise … which is a good thing as I also enjoy my food!

I’m never going to win any prizes, break any records, or set the world on fire, but I am sure that I am fitter than the average couch potato.  I play squash and badminton (probably very badly), run along country roads or treadmills, and try to improve my times or distances (despite the occasional setbacks).

Is there a secret to this change of heart? Self-motivation, achievable goals, having fun doing it with friends, and expert coaching.

And despite the fact that I might well be at the back of the field, maybe I’ll enter for a 10k next Spring.