The Scribbler

4 April 2010

A sprint finish and a smile – North Tyneside 10k

Filed under: run — The Scribbler @ 15:16
Tags: ,

Cool, bright, just the merest hint of a breeze. It’s a great day for a run. First race of the season, first repeat race. Home race and this time I’m not alone.

This year I feel like I’m really part of it. Like I’m a runner. Meeting the gang from work for a group photo, all wearing our running vests. Some new faces trying this one for the first time, mingling with the more experienced runners. I’m somewhere in the middle.

I scan the crowds for Ian but can’t see him. Jog a little and stretch to warm up. Ten minutes to go and I’m on the start line with Kathryn who’s nervous and focused and pushing herself for a good time. I have a good feeling about today.

And we’re off. Picking my way through the narrow start, trying to focus ahead, keep it steady, find my pace. Relax and enjoy.

Down the hill, pick up some speed round the corner onto the fishquay, settle and find yourself. Still a little anxious, nervous. I feel curiously empty, strangely detached.

Running along beside the water, the welcome sound of the waves. The hill is not far ahead. Push on, push on and up. I over take a couple of runners on the first slope, but struggle more on the second. I look up and there’s still hill ahead of me.

Two mile marker and a glance at the watch 15.25 – we’re on. Keep pushing, pushing at the top of the crest. That’s the hard bit done. It’s downhill now, even though it doesn’t look it and then flat all the way. Relax and enjoy.

Breathing, check, that’s good. Pace, kind of feels right. Legs are strong. This is your race now. Your run. Run it how you want to. Nothing else matters. There is no plan.

Past the surf shop, the three mile marker, just about halfway and feeling fine. And just as I think that my chest tightens and the curious empty feeling becomes a wave of rising nausea. I look around me. Am I going to throw up? That’ll be a new one. Relax, ease up a little, breathe…there’s no pressure.

At the next beep I sneak a glance at the Garmin. 5.25 for that kilometre. Means the sub 50 is probably off. But no matter, not matter, that’s not what it’s about today. Keep going, keep going, you’ve fought off the sick feeling. Eat a little mango, get a sugar boost.

I see a work runner I know is aiming for sub 50 too go past. But I can’t keep him in my sights for long. Lost in the crowd. The sugar kicks in and I’m back in the zone again, passing familiar landmarks unnoticed, seeing the white of the lighthouse in the distance.

Why do we run? Because we can. Because we love it. This is your race, your run.

Along the top somewhere John from the gym calls out from his car and I wave and smile. Can I pick it up a bit again? Yeah, why not? Stretch out the legs smooth and easy. Down the slope and up again by the war memorial. My legs want to take the coastal path, but the route takes us past the fairground closer to the road.

Through 7km and I know I can do this, just 15 minutes more, and the finish is in sight. Familiar checkpoints pass by in a blur. I’m just running, in my own space. Let those who are faster come past you.

The last little rise by the Links has people, clapping and cheering from the car parks. A smile and a push. I’ve tried little bursts of speed along the way, but they wouldn’t come. Now they rush to explode and I’m picking up the pace at last.

When to sprint? When to go? My legs are already racing before I turn the corner to the finish line. A wave and a smile for Ken and I’m turbo charged, chasing down finishers along the final straight. Blimey, where did that come from?

I cross the line and stop the watch – saying please, please. Then stumble jelly legged through the funnels. A couple of guys I passed on the sprint go ahead of me as I struggle to stop feeling so wibbly.

It’s a couple of minutes before I can take in my time – 52:15. Within one second of my last 10k on a flat course. A course PB and 4 mins off last year’s race. Close, close, but still elusively out of reach.

But after all the pressure, all the build up, all the focus, you know I have to be happy with that. It’s the first race of the season. There will be other opportunities if I want them.

I was more nervous than I can remember yesterday. In my mind I was okay, but my stomach and hands were full of the shakes. I didn’t feel like eating. I was burning up with adrenaline. I didn’t want to be. I just was. Today I was calmer, excited, ready.

And more importantly I enjoyed that run. Felt good. Feel there’s probably a bit more, if I’m brave enough and can keep the focus 100%.

Stats:

10k 52.15
1. 04.32
2. 04.54
3. 05.09
4. 05.33
5. 05.22
6. 05.21
7. 05.19
8. 05.26
9. 05.26
10. 05.06

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