After taking a couple of weeks of post race easy running in the hot summer weather, it’s time to reflect on my recent 10k race at Southampton Common and decide on my goals for the last few months of 2022.
Although I didn’t quite reach my big goal of completing the course in under 50 minutes, I’m still pleased with the outcome of the race. It was the first time this event had taken place, but as I had had such a good experience with the Goodwood Running GP, another event organised by RunThrough, I decided to go for it after winning a free race entry with them.
One of the factors that convinced me to enter had been the description of a flat course - perfect for my big PB attempt. Or so I thought. While waiting at the start line I overheard another runner say to their friend that it was a good course except for the “big hill”. Surely that was an exaggeration? The course was three laps, approximately 2 miles each, so that meant the hill would have to be conquered three times! All I could do was go for it and see for myself.
The race started exactly on time and the race village was extremely calm and well organised. I had managed to get a parking space very close to the common and the queue for the toilets was short. The weather seemed perfect for running, overcast albeit still pretty warm, but nothing out of the ordinary for the end of July. I hoped that all this meant the race would go smoothly too.
About half a mile into the race, maybe even earlier, the ascent began. I didn’t let my pace slow too much, even though it was only the first mile and the first lap, but I reached the top without too much worry. After the incline came the descent back round to the finish line (or the start of the next lap) which definitely went some way to making up for the hill that had been glossed over in the race description. I flew back down and finished the first lap on track for my big sub-50 goal.
The second and third laps didn’t go quite as well, and I soon realised perhaps I’d put too much effort into maintaining pace on the first lap. My pace for each mile was all over the place, slow up the hill and then too fast back down as I tried to work out if I could make up for the lost time and still do it all again. By the beginning of the third lap I knew I would not finish in under 50 minutes, but I wanted to try and get as close as I could to that goal.
I had started to feel a bit lightheaded and dehydrated, so I grabbed some water as I passed the aid station and tried to regroup a little bit. I practically crawled up the final hill but knew that it was all downhill from there. I tried to keep smiling and was so grateful for the amazing support from all the volunteers and marshals out on the course - one of whom really spurred me on for that final sprint finish. I was determined to overtake a few people on the final few metres and finish knowing that I had given it my absolute all that day on that course in the summer heat.
I crossed the line with a chip time of 51:48, over thirty seconds faster than my previous 10k race PB (on a much flatter course) which had stood since before I’d had Max. I really had given it everything and I flopped down onto the ground with my water and my medal before eating my delicious (and free!) post race flapjack and heading home. It was the first time I had gone to a race on my own without family or friends either running or supporting but the experience and the atmosphere had still been extremely positive.
When I checked the full results later that day I was chuffed to see I had been the 8th female finisher, something I definitely hadn’t been expecting. I spoke to a couple of other women after the race and they had both admitted they’d missed their goal time too due to the conditions. They even gave me a suggestion for a flatter local 10k that would be more likely to secure that sub-50 for me later this year.
I will definitely be on the lookout for a super flat 10k race in the next few months to have one more attempt at that big goal before this year is out. In a month’s time I’m also going to have a crack at a sub 2 hour half marathon at the New Forest Marathon festival on a course that promises to be fast and flat. Wish me luck!
If you’re looking for more race inspiration, click here to read some of my previous race recaps, including 10k, half marathon and marathon distances. You can also read more about my postpartum running journey by clicking here.
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