The North Tyneside 10k runs from The Parks sports centre in North Shields, along the Fish Quay, up the side of Tynemouth Priory and then along the coast towards St Mary’s Island at Whitley Bay. It’s a regular season starter in the calendar but as it always takes place on Easter Sunday, it can be a bit unpredictable. I’ve run it in wind, snow and hailstones, and in scorching hot sunshine.
This year was an unexpectedly hot day and, because I’ve been focusing on longer distance runs at an easy effort in my half marathon training, I really had no idea of how I would feel going at a faster pace for 6 miles.
However many times I do a race, I still get a bubble of adrenaline and flutter of nerves before an event. I sort of like that I still feel like that. It adds an extra level of excitement and makes racing different from regular training.
I did a bit of a warm up, running around the park beside the sports centre and going through some running drills before finding a shady patch to hang around in before the start. Despite the fact that I know a lot of people in the local running community, I didn’t manage to see anyone I knew to say hello to until I lined up for the start.
My plan was to run comfortably hard for as long as I could. My goal was to run faster than my long run pace throughout. That’s about as technical as I got. I didn’t set a specific minutes per mile pace and just resolved to run based on how I felt, rather than checking my watch regularly.
I knew that the hot weather could be a factor. And that it’s hard to settle into a steady pace on this route as it has a steepish bit of downhill in the first mile and then an uphill section just before mile 3.
And so, after the usual nervous chat with runners at the start, a shuffle over the line, finger paused on the start button on my watch, I was off and dodging through the streets of North Shields.
I trot confidently down the hill towards the Fish Quay and between the mouth of the river Tyne and the restaurants along the bank. Heading out towards Tynemouth priory, the sun is really beating down.
There are groans and sharp intakes of breath as the first hill approaches. A short sharp rise up from the river. There’s not enough time to recover your effort before the next longer hill up the road alongside Tynemouth Priory. I tell myself I run hill reps here regularly and just get on with it.
I grabbed a bottle of water just after 3 miles and took a couple of gulps as it was such a hot day. I made a mental promise to myself to keep pushing until 4 miles. Normally this kind of self talk is a good motivator and I go past my self-imposed limits. But this time, as I reached 4 miles I eased back to an easier effort. It was hot and people were walking, and achieving a time just didn’t seem as important as enjoying the race.
I managed a bit of a sprint on at the end. But I was still a bit disappointed that I ran a slower time than last year, despite running many more miles in training. I still enjoy this race and hope to be back a bit speedier in 2020.