On Saturday I headed to Battersea Park for another of the Self-Transcendence 10K races the Sri Chinmoy Athletic Club regularly runs. This was my big target race I’ve been working towards since completing the Bristol Half, and I had one goal – break 40 minutes no matter what! The course is perfect for PBs, 4 simple laps of the southern end of the park, with no sharp turns and basically completely flat.
Unfortunately the weather had other ideas, and the forecast leading up to Saturday was for fairly strong wind, snow, and temperatures struggling to get above a few degrees. I was rather apprehensive about what effect this might have on my sub-40 attempt, and even looked around for any races next weekend as a ‘B’ plan, but in the end decided to just go for it and see what happens.
Sure enough Saturday morning was cold and miserable, and as I stood waiting for a bus at 7am with strong winds blowing snow in my face I had a real “what the fuck am I doing” moment. Nonetheless I made my way down to Pimlico and ran the two miles to the park as warm-up. Number pick-up was quick and they were giving out black bin sacks which acted as highly fashionable gilets to keep warm while we waited at the start. Thankfully by now the snow had stopped, although wind and rain would continue throughout the race.
At the horn everyone sprinted off, and I was quite surprised by how many people overtook me – far more than when I did the race in October, despite starting a row or so back this time. A quick check of my watch confirmed I wasn’t crawling though. Looking at the results it was indeed a faster field, with the top three running 31:xx and the top 10 all sub-35. Anyway my plan was to go by effort, but also try to ensure I didn’t slip below 3:57 per km, to hit my target of 39:30.
I knew the wind was easier on the east-facing first km so planned to try and run that a little quicker, knowing what was to come when we rounded the corner. Sure enough the first km ticked by in 3:48 despite feeling far from all out. At this point the cold rain was making my face feel slightly numb, but thankfully the effort either warmed me up or made me forget as I soon felt ok.
The second km took us in to the wind, and unfortunately I struggled to find anyone to work with as people either took off ahead or slipped behind me. However I ran the 2km split in 3:58 and as I rounded the corner back away from the wind managed to put in 3:52 for km 3. Things were feeling hard but manageable and I was contemplating hitting around 39 minutes. Km 4 was completed in 3:55 despite being mostly against the breeze, but unfortunately the wind began to pick up (and I probably started to tire a little too, although I still felt reasonable) and the previously fairly still part of the lap heading east became breezier, resulting in a slip to 4:02 for km 5.
Kilometers 6 and 7 went by in 4:01 and 4:03 as I struggled but failed to catch up to a group 20 meters ahead, and I knew anything close to 39:00 was now gone. I was also finding my breathing more laboured with the cold air, and felt what might have been a stitch coming on, but I managed to get control of my breathing and ride it out without anything more coming of it. I knew 39:30ish was still definitely doable if I knuckled down, so I tried to ensure my concentration by chanting my favourite running mantra over and over in my head – “don’t be shit, don’t be shit, don’t be shit”.
I managed a slightly stronger 3:58 in km 8 despite a slightly scary moment during a narrow point in the course when I had to run over a big pile of wet leaves while passing a slower runner. I felt myself begin to slip, but thankfully I kept my feet under me and emerged unscathed. Km 9 however slipped again to 4:01, so at that marker I decided to just go for it and muster as much extra speed as I could. A few guys who had appeared around me also picked up the pace and while I couldn’t quite hold on to them, they definitely helped me move along. A final sprint as the finish line came in to sight yielded 5:30ish min/mi for the final 30 seconds, with a 3:51 final km, and I crossed the line in 39:34. Sub-40! I did it!!
Really pleased to have nailed sub-40 this year. Part of me can’t help wondering what I’d have managed with better weather – today, typically, was sunny and much calmer – but overall I don’t have much to complain about. In total I’ve taken 3:20 off my 10K PB this year which will do for me! I now just want to make it down to another parkrun and perhaps bag a sub-19 5K to put the icing on the 2015 PB cake!
|1||3:49||6:08 min/mi||173||1 ft|
|2||4:00||6:25 min/mi||192||1 ft|
|3||3:53||6:13 min/mi||194||1 ft|
|4||3:59||6:25 min/mi||194||-5 ft|
|5||4:02||6:29 min/mi||192||2 ft|
|6||4:03||6:32 min/mi||191||-4 ft|
|7||4:03||6:29 min/mi||190||-1 ft|
|8||3:58||6:23 min/mi||191||-5 ft|
|9||4:03||6:30 min/mi||192||1 ft|
|10||3:44||6:19 min/mi||192||-1 ft|
|Total||39:34||6.2 mi||6:22 min/mi||190|
|1||3:48||0.62 mi||6:10 min/mi||173|
|2||3:58||0.62 mi||6:23 min/mi||192|
|3||3:52||0.62 mi||6:14 min/mi||194|
|4||3:55||0.62 mi||6:21 min/mi||194|
|5||4:02||0.62 mi||6:28 min/mi||193|
|6||4:01||0.62 mi||6:31 min/mi||191|
|7||4:03||0.62 mi||6:30 min/mi||190|
|8||3:58||0.62 mi||6:21 min/mi||191|
|9||4:01||0.62 mi||6:30 min/mi||192|
|10||3:51||0.61 mi||6:16 min/mi||192|