The 3rd of October 2010 saw me try my first 10k event with the Cricklade fun run. 10k: That's about a quarter of a marathon, and about 4k further than I'd run at that point.

My key objectives, in order of priority, were: -

  1. Don't die.
  2. Don't come last
  3. Don't stop
  4. Overtake whoever is in front of you in the last 200m

This post is a re-hash of the blog posts I made in the lead up to it, and in the aftermath, brought over from my old site.

The last time I'd run in a group it improved my performance hugely compared to running only with my mentors, Gilles & Eugene. Since then I'd been running solo, so it promised to be an interesting test of how I was doing. I was managing to run further without stopping by then, though the 10k would be my longest run yet. I was just hoping that at least some of the runners would be slower than me!

In the days leading up to the day the weather promised to be wet but I'd yet to think of a really good excuse to wiggle out of it and mentor Gilles would be joining me again though so best foot forward...

On the day itself I woke up with a sore throat, it was raining and miserable. In fact it was raining so badly that my mentor got in touch to say he wasn't coming... but then who in their right mind would turn up on a Sunday morning in the cold and wet to run around Cricklade for an hour? Unfortunately, while he lives many miles away and was only really coming to offer me moral support, I only live 15 minutes down the road and had set this up as a major stepping stone on my way to a marathon run... no Sunday morning lay-in for me.

Registration at the leisure centre was painless... walk up to the counter to be issued with my number and a gizmo to strap to my ankle to track me as I ran. I'd been tagged! Petty criminals get off more lightly than this, and I'd volunteered!

After a nervous bit of stretching it was down to the start line, where people got split into groups for the 3 races that were taking place. "Race" is such a harsh term though: Whenever people talked about the "race" I always tried to correct them.. it's a "run" I'd say, trying to convince myself more than them. If you're interested, I mapped the course on the MapMyRun web site here.

The fun runners were out of site around the corner. Split into our groups for the different races they were made to hide at the back somewhere. The people for the half-marathon were easily distinguishable from the rest. For a start we easily outweighed them. That said, as I looked around at the people sheltering under the same tree as me (did I mention the rain?) it became apparent that I easily outweighed all of them too. In fact, the other would-be 10k runners had a very much less would-be look about them than me. This was a group of people who had done this before. There were the ones in club vests. There were others who knew their fellow runners, as clearly they did this sort of thing all the time!

A feeling of dread settled on me then. All the less serious runners had clearly stayed at home. I was here with the hard-core. This lot weren't put off by a bit of precipitation. These people did this a *lot*. Forget the three rules (don't die, don't come last, try and overtake people at the end)... this was about avoiding humiliation!!!

The half-marathon runners went off first. I was already thinking that my fellow 10k participants were looking a damn site more fit than me but this lot were even leaner. Might have to speed up my weight loss program!

After they'd gone there was just a brief pause while we got ready. I gently made my way toward the back. Not *right* at the back you understand... I hadn't given up hope entirely! Some more nervous stretching as we waited to head off. I say "we", the only chap I'd really struck up a conversation with turned out to be heading for the half-marathon. Don't head off too fast he said... damn right!

Finally we're off. The people at the front head off into the distance, or at least around the corner where I can't see them. I start to trudge along, bit of a bottleneck to start with as we file out of the car-park and along gated section of the street. Then the road opens out and... relief! The thronging crowd around me fail to leave me for dust! They too are trying not to head off too fast! Praise be to the Flying Spaghetti Monster! Perhaps my pre-race nerves had gotten the best of me... maybe Rule 2. (don't finish last) would be intact by the end... but maybe I should get further than the first 200m before getting too excited.

I'd rediscovered a few weeks back that running with someone is *so* much easier than running on your own. (It turns out that Alan from the rugby club had been running further than me without realising it, how happy was I to find that out. not). Running alongside hundreds of people is even better. Though I confess I didn't strike up any conversations while I puffed my way round it was reassuring to have fellow runners around me. It was particularly good each time I managed to slip past one, and I tried not to be too disheartened when someone went past me.

I knew that I could make 6k, having managed it once before, and was happy to pass the 6k marker feeling fine. The last marker I remember seeing was at 8k. Still going and not feeling too bad. The hill toward the end was a killer though, that was when Gilles or Alan would have been handy! I confess that I did slow to a brisk walk for half a minute :-(

I didn't realise the end was nigh until too late. Suddenly I was around that last corner and the leisure centre once again loomed large. Rule 3. stated "in the last 200 yards overtake anyone in front of you". I upped the pace but just couldn't bring myself to do it! I went through the gate on the shoulder of the guy in front, I just couldn't help thinking how crap I'd feel if someone overtook took me in the very last stretch of a 10k so let him finish ahead. But I came away knowing at least that I *could* have done :-)

So success: my first attempt at 10k completed. I beat fewer people than beat me, I came 134th out of 196 starters, but another 74 runners didn't event make the start line and I finished in a not too embarassing time. You can see where I finished on the results page here (see, I really did it!).

From there I first had to work out how to to work in 10k as a regular training slot, and to be able to repeat it four times on the trot. Well, I say "trot", more likely "hobble": even then I suspected that the fourth 10k would be a tad harder than the first. That day I left Cricklade with a promise to return...in the dry. 

Monday the 11th. .