Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner

After a summer series of heat, humidity and hayfever my 10k results have not been what they should have been. I’ve been training well enough, but just haven’t managed to put together back-to-back miles as the weather has been playing havoc with my asthma.

Last night was my final chance to get a decent 10k in before hitting full on marathon training so I wanted to run a 10k in or around my true level of fitness. The last few 10k’s have been real hard work, I’ve wheezed and coughed my way around in times between 44-45 minutes. It’s been really tough for me, I’ve been saying for weeks that I’m in 42.x shape and could, given the right day and course, even manage a 41:59.

The Stillington 10k is the last 10k in the summer series, it’s a reverse handicap where your start time is based upon your fastest 10k of the summer series. The slowest times go first, and the racing snakes go last. The idea is that if form is correct we’ll all finish in around the same time and have a real ‘ding-dong’ race to the finish line.

I felt I had a good chance of gaining a top twenty finishers t-shirt as my start time was based on my best time (44:31) and with the weather being damp and cooler I had a feeling I could manage a 42:30 or so.

The first runner was off at 7PM on the dot, I started at 7:31 with 275 runners ahead of me…knowing I had a job to do, and wanting a decent start, I hit the first mile in 06:29/mi already having passed around 10 runners.

My early race tactics were to push to each group of runners ahead, tuck in behind for a small recovery, then push on to the next group. This tactic worked really well in the first half. I hit the half-way mark in around 20m:40s having passed over 60 runners.

I was feeling strong at this stage and decided to keep pushing to see how many runners I could pass before I run out of road…the second half was a little tougher. It’s mostly undulating with a couple of sharpish climbs near the end. The tactics I’d employed in the first half were no longer workable as being a reverse handicap, the runners I were now catching were running at a much slower pace than me. I just had to focus on keeping myself working, turning the legs over and chasing down those ahead of me.

The last couple of miles felt hard work, I was working hard with no chance of taking a recovery. I managed to keep the effort up, chasing runners down, and looking for that top-twenty finish. As we approached the last mile or so I could see a line of around 8 runners ahead of me so pushed hard up the hills, passing 4 of the runners ahead of me. Just before the top of the hill I actually thought I was going to vomit and had to take a brief walk break to compose myself. That worked well, after around 6 seconds or so I started to feel better so pushed on again.

On the downside of the hill I passed another runner, leaving just 3 ahead of me. A sharp turn right saw me pass another runner and I was in 3rd place. For a moment I thought to myself “That’ll do, I’ll take 3rd place”, but lucky for me, this only lasted for a brief moment. With around 700m to go I was closing fast on the 2 runners ahead of me, and passed them with 600m left. I just focused on maintaining the effort and went to the line as best as I could.

I crossed the finish line in 41m:50s, my fastest 10k since 2010, and even better…took the reverse handicap win, the first time I’ve finished 1st in any race EVER.

Last night I was bouncing off the wall with excitement, it was great to get the win, but even better to take down the time I’d been saying I could run for the last few weeks.

That’s it for 10k’s for now. My focus has shifted towards the Plusnet Yorkshire Marathon in October, so my next two races are a hilly 10 miler in three weeks, and a half-marathon in September.

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