Given this was approached as just a training run, I’ll spare you folks a lengthy write-up after the tome-like Yorkshire Marathon report!
I’ve been aware of this race for a number of years, but it’s always fallen on the calendar when Lis and I have been out of town for reasons X, Y or Z. Not so on this occasion, where it also lined up nicely as an opportunity for a tempo run and as a sighter for the upcoming Telford 10k, which will be my final chance for PB redemption after the disastrous Magor 10k from back in July.
It was a beautiful autumnal morning, but also cold and blustery to leave me thankful I wasn’t chasing after anything apart from dipping under 40 minutes. Gloves and arm warmers came out for the first time since they were packed away back in March sometime!
Lots of faces from the local running community were in attendance, with a notable guest appearance from Neil Muir.
Shortly before go-time, I bumped into Shaun Hemmings, a regular from Perry Hall Parkrun that I’ve become better acquainted with of late. It just so happened he also had an eye on a sub-40 finish to have me fist pumping the air in my head; the last time I ran a 10k in Cannon Hill Park saw me running almost exclusively on my own in no-man’s land.
With the knowledge of a downhill start, I was cautious not to get caught up in the start line scramble for positions in this race that wasn’t a race. Shaun and I found ourselves working together early on, though he pulled away shortly before completing 1km. I felt pretty good in spite of the delayed return to regular training, and yesterday’s Parkrun that was probably a tad too swift. 1km to 3km came in pretty much where I wanted them for 3:57, 4:04 and 3:58.
At 3km, I had to make a sharp 180° turn around a bollard to run face first into 13mph headwind. This gave me a chance to regroup with Shaun and a few others. I took the opportunity of a few seconds of recovery in the group’s draft before moving forward to try and get the pace back on track.
Re-entering the main perimeter of Cannon Hill Park, I came into contact with Chris Callow, who was also targeting sub-40 based on our exchange prior to the race. I sensed his swift start and the relentless headwind on the return into the park had done some damage, so I told him to shelter behind me for a while as we approached halfway. 4km and 5km came in at 4:00 and 3:52 (subtle downhill) respectively to contribute towards a 19:51 first half. Right on target!
I’m not entirely sure when it happened, but I lost Chris at some point shortly after passing the Mac. I was once again firmly in no-man’s land, though spied a few individuals further ahead that appeared to be fading from an enthusiastic first half.
Sub-consciously, I knew I had to lift the pace slightly with the knowledge that the headwind would wreak havoc once more as I neared the switchback point. 6km and 7km clocked in for 3:59 and 3:50 respectively.
Turning around for the final time, I faced the nemesis that was the headwind once more; unlike the first lap, there was nobody to hide behind on this occasion for the first moment in the race where I felt like I was actually working. Seeing the others come through on the other side, I began doling out encouragement to various folks. The headwind did a number on me and left 8km with a 3:58 in its wake.
Before starting the race, I bumped into fellow-Cannon Hill Parkrun regular, Paul Harris, who advised me to begin winding my race up once I re-entered the park. I mis-understood his words and thought he meant I should pick up the pace from the triangle onwards! The approach back to the main perimeter of the park was a confusing affair, due to traffic flow arrows that faced the wrong way; I found myself having to flip-flop from one side of the route to the other a couple of times before it became clear that I was on the correct path. 9km clocked in for 3:48.
The final km remained solitary, though was well supported by familiar faces. I came to the realisation that I’d never before finished a 10k feeling quite so comfortable, nor having taken on no water as I scooted through the water station for the second time. There was also no need for a sprint for the finish line to keep things nice and steady, safe in the knowledge that I’d made it back in under 40 minutes and then some for 39:13.
Here’s the Strava data for this race.
Upon finishing, I felt like I had only set foot on a long Sunday run and recovered my breath within seconds. I got the tempo run I wanted without any distress, so mission accomplished.
A few sociable catch-ups with people afterwards (thanks for the tea, Neil!) rounded off a thoroughly pleasant morning.
If I’d approached the race in slightly aggressive manner, I would have been incredibly close to surpassing my soft 10k PB of 38:45. That will have to wait until the hotly anticipated Telford 10k in 5 weeks where the outlook is to get as close to 38:00 as possible.
That’s your lot – I told you all it would be a short write-up!