10k Goal Smashed!

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10km has always been the next goal for me.

Ever since the Cannock Chase 10k in August I’ve been trying to improve my 5k pace and work towards reaching 10km non-stop running.

I’ve started introducing a long run on a weekend as and when possible, increasing by a few kilometres each week.

I entered the Tatton Park 10km in November thinking it would give me a reasonable amount of time to build up to non-stop running 10km.

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September and October have been especially busy months, with quite a few weekends and weeks away with friends and work, plus I’ve been a little run down with a cold for the past few weeks.

As much as I love running sometimes life gets in the way and I try to never prioritise running over time with friends and family, as the time I get for them is so few and far between as it is.

So as 3rd November arrived I had not yet completed a non-stop 10k run, and the most I had done recently was a 8km with a walk halfway and a few shorter runs. I was apprehensive about what was going to happen.

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I find the tactics of running really difficult. My aim was to do it in 1 hour 10 minutes, which I knew meant keeping my average pace at 7 minute kilometres or under, but should I set up a run/walk plan from the word go or try to run for as long as possible but risk burning myself out… or start slow with the intention of speeding up?!

It’s hard when you don’t know the course either, you don’t know if there are hills that are going to slow you down that you’ll need to make up time for elsewhere.

I do care about the numbers as I want to push myself to improve, but actually more important to me is to enjoy it. Enjoy the experience. Enjoy the scenery.

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As we set off running through Tatton Park my brain was doing it’s useful conflict of “you can’t do this”, “this is going to be hard”, “it’s a struggle already and we’ve only just started” vs. “you’re fine”, “it’s not hard”, “one foot in front of the other”, “just keep going”.

Along the course there were marshals cheering, shaking tambourines, a saxaphone player, inspirational signs. Plus the views! Tatton is stunning. I saw two stags with great big sets of antlers. Gorgeous.

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At 4k I hadn’t stopped yet and pushed to try and keep going as we went up a very gentle but long hill with the wind blowing back in our faces.

At 5k I had a gel, something I’m not sure I need but that seemed to work okay for me during the Cannock Chase 5k.

At 6k Wendy who I was running with stopped for a little walk then sped up and began doing intervals of faster running with short walk breaks and remained ahead of me for the rest of the way, while I just tried to keep plodding on without stopping to walk. It was all me now… my thoughts, my company, my effort.

At this point I’d decided I just wanted to try and keep running, but I was in conflict as I knew if I walked a little then I’d get some energy back.

At 7km my feet were dragging on the floor so I slowed to a walk while I stripped my jumper off. I must have only stopped for about 30 seconds and then I was going again.

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The course left Tatton Park and turned down a side road. This was now a real mental challenge… plodding along a road with no spectators, little scenery and just tarmac after tarmac to pound along.

Must not stop! Must not stop! 8km arrived… I can run 8km… should I speed up for the last 2km?! I glanced at my watch… 55 minutes… I had a buffer zone of 15mins to run 2km in… I didn’t need 15mins!

As I got to 8.5km I tried to step up my speed.

The course passed a turn off to the finish line but we had to run 300 yards away from it to then turn back on ourselves and run back!

That was agony… but also I could see how far was to come… I knew how much I had left.

As we made the turn I kept speeding up, little by little, I caught up to Wendy as we neared the finish line and I told her to run… and she did! What a power house… I couldn’t catch her!

As the finish line came closer I was pretty sure I was going to throw up or pass out but I just had to keep going. Ash and others were there cheering but I couldn’t speak or acknowledge them… and then we were there. We had done it!!

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1 hour 7 minutes 47 seconds. I couldn’t believe it!!

I’d just ran 10km in 1:07:47! I’d only walked for about 30 seconds (so I’d pretty much ran the whole way). My average pace was 15 seconds per km faster than what I’d needed and aimed for!

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I’m so so proud of myself.

I am capable of pushing myself!

I can do it if I try!

I’ve never been VERY good at things… I’ve always found things hard… be that sport or maths or music… I can do it but I have to work hard and I often give up easily.

But running… I’ve tried and tried and tried so so hard. I’ve kept at it. I’ve committed. I’ve pushed myself. And I’m starting to see and feel the benefits. I’m starting to achieve things that I never thought I could achieve. And that’s incredible!

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The queue for a free massage was really short so we lined up. Oh my gosh it hurt… my legs were so tight. But I knew it would be worth it and when I stood up they were like jelly… it was so weird.

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We had a coffee and went home… job done!

For once I’m not really thinking about what’s next… a little bit of time off then back to my regular runs… but I don’t want to push myself too hard or keep setting the boundaries further and further… I think maintaining a good level of fitness and finding comfort with the 10km distance would be nice… then perhaps in January my next plan will begin!

But I think it’s so important just to enjoy this moment. I did something incredible yesterday all by myself.  Back in January I couldn’t even run 2km!

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