After a year out of racing I planned to do the Frenchay 10k on Sunday 15th of April. It was spur of the moment as I registered last Sunday. I spent the first half of the weekend exploring humid and sunny Nottingham doing six miles of walking each day. Then travelled back down to Bristol for the race. I woke up to a typical cloudy (and later on, drizzly) Bristolian weather Sunday feeling rather groggy. Two days of six mile walks had indeed caught up. Yet that night my mantra had been, ‘I will not find an excuse to cop out today. I will not. I will not.’ I couldn’t let another race pass me by due to my own nerves and horrendous levels of self-doubt.
I made the decision that if I could manage a few runs per week perhaps I could switch up those runs into a race on the weekend. I’d run what felt good training wise during the week, most of my runs ended up on weekends recently anyway due to having more time to get out. I’d try not to obsess over plans that would see me exhausted and beat before I got to the start line. With CFS and a slipped disc I need to be very aware of my body when doing fitness. I only had one new medal to hang up last year. I needed a comeback race.
Since I was 7lbs over my old race weight I tried to carboload by not necessarily adding in any extra food. I just changed the proportion of carbs in my snacks and meals. For weekday lunches I made a ridiculously hot veggie chilli as I find rice less stodgy than pasta and left Italian type meals to the evening. I ordered a new set of Gaze boxes in bulk to try out to keep snacking controlled.
It was a great choice. A race ran by a local club for charity. The registration, start and finish were in the Glenside Campus, only about a mile from home. This meant that travelling was no reason to cause any anxiety. Inside race HQ it was completely packed out. It was quick and easy to get my race number. I’d forgotten how long the queues for toilets get at racing! I’d forgotten to bring spare pins and had to run with two pins due to a lack of them. Next time I’ll remember to bring my own pins, something I used to always do when running races was a frequent habit. I even have a small decorative pot of them somewhere at home just for races.
Despite not being at events for so long I could still recognise a lot of faces from local running clubs past and present. This was a nice feeling. Things hadn’t moved on so far in my absence that the field was completely unrecognisable. I wore my Southville colours to shouts of ‘Go on Southville!’. There were wonderful pockets of support. The race looped the Glenside campus, went down to Oldbury Court (where I’d done a lot of my winter training long runs) through the fields to Frenchay and back down to then finish with Blackberry hill in the last mile, a beast of a finish. I only stopped to fix my race number in the field after it got too hot in my waterproof jacket. Throughout I kept a steady pace with no walking to manage 10-12 minute miles.
Incredibly I even managed a sprint finish to lots of cheers at the end. The race gift was a red Frenchay 10k mug. It’s not always about the medal. I’ve had all sorts of things other than medals in the past like coasters, bottles of signature beer, ice creams. Those moments will always be in your head regardless of what you get given afterwards.
Perhaps, I needed this time out to give myself a year’s rest. After battering my body with a schedule in three years that included nine marathons, multiple halfs and 10ks with no prior fitness base. 1 hour 5 mins. 7.19 mins over my last 2017 flat Bristol 10k race and only 10 minutes over my 2016 10k PB, I think if I try hard on the day for the Bristol 10k in May I might be able to beat my PB set in 2016.
Afterwards I ached but only in that I needed to take breaks to walk around and have the odd paracetamol. It didn’t completely destroy me. I walked in the drizzle which promptly turned into torrential rain to Grounded for a lovely lunch of Spanish Potatoes. Then I slept for a solid two hours.
I’m looking forward to putting more races on the calendar across the distances.
PS: Remember to stretch and foam roll!
PSS: Try not to go off too fast in the first mile!