My second “tune-up” race of this marathon campaign was the Spring Shakespeare 10K. Held at the former RAF airfield Long Marston, now a drag racing venue, the race is a small event which holds a marathon, half, 10K and 5K all at the same time. Indeed one lady was running a 50K, although ten 5K laps around a desolate airfield sounds rather soul crushing to me! I had only two laps to complete thankfully, and being a completely flat airfield the course was perfect for a potential PB and a go at getting a sub-38 minute 10K time.
I arrived nice and early after a pleasant drive through the countryside, and swiftly picked up my race number. The forecast earlier in the week had been for quite high winds, and Long Marston is fairly open and exposed so that wouldn’t have been much fun, but thankfully the forecasts were wrong and while there was a breeze it wasn’t so bad that it would destroy any hope of a PB. I ran a two mile warm-up with a few strides, and my legs felt very fresh after a mini-taper where I had cut the doubles and reduced mileage. I was feeling fast and up for it!
After a quick visit to the rather basic onsite toilets (although admittedly with running water and paper towels they were an upgrade to the usual portapotties!) it was time to line up. The marathon and half marathon set off prior to the 5K and 10K, but as they both featured shorter loops at the start to make up the odd distances they were safely out of the way prior to our start. I made my way to the front, knowing it was a relatively small field and my target time would put me top 10 based on the times at previous races. Slightly worryingly two children were lined up at the front which seemed a little dangerous, so I made sure I was a safe distance away from them. And with the sound of a horn we were off.
The rough plan was to aim for 3:47/km pace, which would bring me home in 37:50. However I didn’t want to obsess about hitting a particular pace too much, and my main goal at the start was to quickly settle in to a good rhythm, and I could then assess the situation after the first few kilometres. As usual the first minute or so was a speedy burst, all below 5:30/mi pace, before the pack settled out and I started trying to dial in to the right pace.
I went through the first kilometre in 3:32, a bit fast but nothing to worry about, and found myself in 7th position. Unfortunately with such a small field at the sharper end I was already on my own with the next guy perhaps 20m ahead, which is how it would stay for most of the race. I concentrated on settling in to the right rhythm, and by the end of the second kilometre I had found a pace that felt like it would be hard to keep up but wasn’t suicidal, which is usually about the right effort for a 10K. Second kilometre in 3:42, so far so good.
We had now turned around and were running in to the wind. At this stage with fresh legs it didn’t feel too bad, but I knew on the second lap with tired legs and likely no one to shield behind this would be a tough section, so mentally steeled myself for what was to come. The kilometres ticked by – 3:48, 3:47, 3:45 – and I just tried to keep my concentration up so the pace didn’t slip. The course features a few u-turns as you go out and back along runways and support roads, so I did my best to take these turns without losing too much momentum.
I went through the 5K timing mat in 18:42, which not so long ago would have been a 5K PB! I was on schedule for a sub-38 time, but knew the real hard work was now ahead. If I could keep up the effort and not drop too many seconds going in to the wind I could do it. However I think my concentration dropped a little as the wind was now behind me again and I wasn’t having to work so hard, and the next kilometre was 3:50. Not ideal when this should have been one of the easier sections! I responded though, and covered the seventh kilometre in 3:44.
It was now two kilometres against the wind where I knew I had to keep pushing hard and not lose too much time. Thankfully I noticed I was beginning to reel in the guy in sixth place, so I concentrated on gradually catching him with the hope I could perhaps draft off him a little before the final push. However, when I did catch him he was starting to slow considerably, so I knew I just had to push on in to the wind if I wanted that sub-38.
I made it through the breezy kilometres in 3:51 and 3:50, and the final turn on the finishing straight was in sight. I gradually tried to wind up the pace, my breathing becoming more and more laboured. My legs were still feeling ok though, and as I rounded the final corner the small crowd buoyed me enough to find a final finishing kick, hitting 4:35/mi in the final few meters according to Strava! I finished in 37:47 – a PB by exactly 30 seconds and the sub-38 time I had been looking for. 😁
Overall I’m very pleased with my performance. It is a solid PB despite the breezy conditions and the fact I had no-one to work with for most of the race. I think with a bigger, faster field I could have definitely run a bit faster. My legs also felt surprisingly good after the race – a result of all the miles I’ve been covering lately I supposed – and I totally smashed my long run the next day.
This weekend, combined with the fairly comfortable 2:55 pace run at the Brighton Half in windy conditions, have been big confidence boosters. I converted almost perfectly from half -> 10K times, so hopefully the Daniels calculator is as accurate in the other direction! I will see how I feel on the day in Brighton, but I am growing more and more sure that I will at least try for 2:55. All the pointers are there, and a marathon goal should be at least a little bit scary, right? 😉
|1||3:32||5:41 min/mi||177||-4 ft|
|2||3:42||5:57 min/mi||192||-3 ft|
|3||3:48||6:07 min/mi||194||8 ft|
|4||3:47||6:05 min/mi||195||4 ft|
|5||3:45||6:01 min/mi||194||-1 ft|
|6||3:50||6:09 min/mi||190||-10 ft|
|7||3:44||6:00 min/mi||191||-2 ft|
|8||3:51||6:11 min/mi||192||3 ft|
|9||3:50||6:10 min/mi||191||8 ft|
|10||3:39||5:52 min/mi||193||-4 ft|
|11||:20||4:41 min/mi||192||4 ft|
|Total||37:47||6.2 mi||6:04 min/mi||191|
|1||3:30||0.61 mi||5:42 min/mi||177|
|2||4:30||0.75 mi||5:57 min/mi||192|
|3||3:17||0.54 mi||6:06 min/mi||195|
|4||3:45||0.62 mi||6:04 min/mi||195|
|5||3:40||0.61 mi||6:00 min/mi||194|
|6||3:53||0.63 mi||6:07 min/mi||190|
|7||4:30||0.75 mi||6:01 min/mi||192|
|8||3:19||0.53 mi||6:12 min/mi||192|
|9||3:47||0.61 mi||6:10 min/mi||191|
|10||3:32||0.62 mi||5:39 min/mi||193|