Race report: Run Bedford 10k

  This was only the second in the Run Bedford series, with the first 10k event taking place last year and attracting just over 400 runners. This year saw over 750. Now, I’m no mathematician but by my calculations, if it continues to grow at this rate, the 2020 event will see over NINE BILLION runners lining up along Bedford’s leafy Embankment.

Those of you who are familiar with this blog will know what to expect by now. Just to warn anyone who may have wandered here by accident expecting an informative report, it’ll be less stuff about course profiles and number/cleanliness of portaloos, and more stuff in which I bemoan my stumpy little legs and go off on tangents about puffins and cheese and kid’s TV shows of the 1990s.

Anyway, enough waffling. On to the race report…

This was a bit of a last minute spur-of-the-moment entry for me. I was still feeling a bit fudgyfrom the Shakespeare Half a few weeks earlier, and was struggling to get back into a training routine, but I had a free morning and my support crew were willing to come along and cheer me on (for the price of a few buckets of ice cream) so I thought “why the hell not”.
I’ve been hankering after a sub-50 10k for as long as I can remember, but the best I’ve ever managed was somewhere around the 53 minute mark. That was a while ago too; more recent test runs have seen me struggle to hit a consistent 9 min/mile pace over the distance. I had to consider the possibility that I’d used up all my running.

Anyway, enough waffling. On to the race report…

Truth be told, I didn’t deserve to do well anyway. My training plan went something like this…

6 weeks to race day: Race booked. Time to start training.

5 weeks to race day: I hope I get sub-50.

4 weeks to race day: I hope I get sub-50

3 weeks to race day: I hope I get sub-50.

2 weeks to race day: I hope I get sub-50.

1 weeks to race day: I hope I get sub-50.

Race day: I hope I don’t soil myself.

I’m really not advocating adopting this approach to races. Like me, it’s neither big nor clever. Laura Fountain off of (the consistently excellent) Lazygirlrunning.com wrote a thing a while back in which she basically said that anyone who goes online and boasts about racing without having done any training is both:

A: irresponsible, in sending out a dangerous message to others, and

B: a dick.

I’m inclined to agree with that, while at the same time feverishly explaining that I’m NOT one of those smug Jimmy No-trainings. While, admittedly, I don’t train properly (i.e. without any hint of consistency or grown-upishness), I do put the miles in. Not particularly good miles, but miles nonetheless. And far from boasting about it, my race results hold up a torturous lens to what could have been if I’d properly knuckled down.

Anyway, enough waffling. On to the race report…

There’s very little fault to be found with this race. Despite only being in its second year, it’s abundantly clear that the organisers know exactly what they’re doing. With the exception of one teensy little gripe (see below), the whole thing was flawlessly executed. Let’s have some bullet points. Everyone loves bullet points…

The good

  • A wonderfully fast, flat route. Sensible road closures meant that most of the race could be run on roads without shutting off the entire town.
  • Clear directions, good marshalling.
  • The route takes in some of the nicer parts of town. The real icing on the cake would have been if it had incorporated Castle Road, with it’s plethora of quirky little shops and café culture atmosphere, but as there are a lot of residential side streets, I guess the amount of disruption would have made it unfeasible. Also, no runner would be able to resist the lure of all that coffee and cake, and the average finish time would have tripled.
  • Very little bottlenecking at the start of the race. The pack thinned out really quickly, with none of the frustrated hemmed-in shuffling you usually get as everyone waits to settle into their own pace.
  • Goodie bag consisted of a decent medal, banana, snack and a bottle of water. Just right for a race of this size.
  • Just a lovely atmosphere. It somehow combined the shine of a big city race with the warmth of a village hall 5k.

The not-so-good

  • In the name of balance, I had to come up with at least one grumble, otherwise the organisers would be forced to rename it “The Kittens-and-Rainbows 10k of Loveliness and Smiles”. The only thing I can think of is the fact that the medal-handing-out area was right next to the finish line, and didn’t seem to be managed as well as the rest of the event. This meant that just as you crossed the line, you ran slap bang into a wall of tired, banana-hungry runners. This could be easily remedied by simply moving the medal table back a few metres, or by hiring Mr T off of the A-Team to shout at everyone and keep them in an orderly line. The second option is best, obviously.

I nearly ended the race report without sharing the story of how I got on. Well, things started to get tough at around mile 4, and the reality of my fingers-crossed approach to a sub-50 started to hit home. I knuckled down and managed a negative split, but by the time I crossed the finish line I was red-faced and my breathing sounded like a set of bagpipes being mugged by a gang of delinquent orang-utans.

All the aches and pains were soon forgotten, when I saw my awesome little support crew yelling at me from the crowd. (Yelling nice stuff. Not just “yeaaaaaaarghhhhgh”. Well… Maybe a bit of both). 

I’d been expecting something close to my previous PB of 52-and-a-bit minutes, so I was extremely chuffed when I saw my chip time of 50:33.

PB = smashed.

To be honest, I’m sort of glad I didn’t get my sub-50 wish. It would have taught me an awful lesson that there’s no point in training properly for things, and that it’s enough to just wing it on the day. By coming in at a smidgen above 50, I’ve now had a glimpse of what’s within my reach and it’s left me hungry to see what I can achieve if I make a few tweaks.

I reckon that if I cut out one packet of monster munch a week, I can nail 35 minutes. Watch this space 😉

  

 

 

1 Bizarrely, my spellcheck didn’t seem to mind “fudgy”. I think it might have finally admitted defeat after years of being bombarded with incromulence.
2 I had a quick look back but I couldn’t find the post in question. If you have any love for running, I’d strongly recommend that you head over there and immerse yourself in her website, which is essential a splendid temple of runningness. Oh, and buy her book while you’re at it too. And mine, if I ever write one. Fankoo!

BIT AT THE END

Hello nice blog-reading person. That’s an ace jumper you’re wearing. Really brings out the colour of your ears. Anyway, cards on the table, there are actually only two people who read this blog: You, and 1980s comedy ventriloquist Bob Carolgees. It’d be great if you could spread the word and share some links to your favourite posts on the Facebookses or the twitters. Or maybe you could scrawl “born to plod = ace” on a bedsheet and tie it to a busy roundabout. The Internet has promised me a basket of kittens for every million hits I get, and I’m hoping to get enough to start a farm. Ta. 

 


 

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