I wanted to go sub hour. I’d not yet made it to the finish line of a 10K to see a zero in the hour box on the time clock, and I really wanted to. My last two 10K runs were in October and November last year, before I’d lost the full 11 kilos, before I completed the half marathon, before I’d managed sub 27 minutes at parkrun.
I’d not had the best week. The previous Saturday we had the first Canning River parkrun, and I ran it home in less than 30 minutes, but later came down with the cold that had been threatening for a few days. I’d come good by Thursday, so around 5.30am Jeremy, Vince and I went out for a run. I could tell that because of the tail end of my cold I’d struggle to keep up, and told them that they should go ahead and I’d be fine. After a kilometre and when they were completely out of sight, I tripped. I ripped open my knees, I made a small hole in my elbow, and grazed my palms.
So going sub hour at Dunsborough the following Sunday seemed a bit of a stretch.
We went down to Busselton on Saturday night after parkrun – I casually walked it this week with the tail runner – and stayed with Cathy again. We played with the dogs and ordered dinner from Cena Pizza, heading to bed around 10, alarm set for 6.30am. Dressed and breakfast eaten, we headed west for Dunsborough, parking not far from the start area.
It had rained overnight, and threatened rain Sunday morning. I didn’t want to give my cold any encouragement to come back, so had layered a long sleeve top under a short sleeve top. I’d also put some light knee length tights on underneath some running shorts.
The whole place was a bit crowded. There were 250 10K run participants, but there was provision for 750 5K run and walk participants, and I think that they must have been close to selling out. After the race briefing the 10K start went off first out of the very crowded start line, and it took about 20 seconds for me to cross the start line timing pads. We’d all started at the back, not knowing the best self seeding position, and therefore had to navigate through the slower runners. I’m always afraid of being one of those moving obstacle slow runners to the faster runners, but at races I think I need to start to push into the back third of the runners to avoid the worst of the jams.
We all headed west to the 2.5km turnaround point which was at the top of the only rise on the course, where they’d also perched the water station. The 5K runners and walkers were starting 10 minutes after us, so once I’d got round the turnaround point, we had thick oncoming traffic for a fair way, until it slowly became one way traffic again.
Before the race I’d set the pace alerts on my watch at 5m55s, so that I could try and run sub hour. I felt fine for the first 1km, but then realised that if it didn’t rain I was going to overheat. I could stop and strip a layer off and lose time, or I could run on and ignore my discomfort. And it was probably going to rain anyway. I chose to run on. I decided to take water at every water station, having a few sips and tipping the remainder on my head. I had my small water bottle as well, so I figured I should be fairly OK.
At the 5km mark, the 5k participants headed left to the finish funnel and arch while the 10k runners headed east past the start area and along the foreshore path. I looked at my watch and saw that I was at 29 minutes, so either I kept my pace up the rest of the way, or I slacked off and went over the hour. I hadn’t managed to get any buffer in the first half of the race.
I tried to keep my pace up, and match my first 5k for speed, but it wasn’t easy. I almost stopped at the water station after the halfway point so that I could properly sip my water before I tipped the rest on my head. At the start I had had to roll my tights back over my knees so that they wouldn’t interfere with the bandages on them but they rolled down anyway and pushed the bandages both against my sore knees and down my leg. They stung a bit as I ran.
I kept on telling myself “sub hour sub hour sub hour” and kept trying to keep my pace up. Every time I would see “Behind Pace” on my watch I’d redouble my efforts and tell myself “sub hour sub hour sub hour”. The 5km to 7.5km stretch was the hardest stretch; I was very glad to see the final turnaround and gave the wooden marker bollard a solid tap with my hand as I went round. I tried to pick my pace up again, because I recognised that if I wasn’t consciously thinking about my speed I would naturally slow to about 6m10s, which wasn’t good enough for a sub hour 10k.
“Sub hour sub hour sub hour.”
Seeing the chalk stripe that marked 1km to go was very welcome. I picked my pace up and really pushed. I could see from my watch that if it all went well I would see that zero in the hour box, but only if I did not give up or relent. I had pressed the timer start on my watch as I’d gone across the timing mats in the start area, so I knew that it was a pretty good indicator of my actual time. In the race briefing they’d said that the 10k course was actually 10.1k, so I had to make sure that I’d factored in the extra 100 metres, and fairly hoofed it past the last drinks station and didn’t grab any water.
I got to the finish area and heard Jeremy yell from the sidelines for me. I tossed him my little water bottle and belted past, round to the right to the finish area and just as I crossed under the arch, I saw my gun time of 0:59:35. I had done it. Sub hour.
I can’t say that I enjoyed the race the way I enjoyed the Half Marathon. This was harder, because I had a goal time that wasn’t based around what I knew I could comfortably do. This was a challenge, an effort. The last half of the race I had to talk to myself, to tell myself to do better, to run faster. My official time from crossing start mat to finish mat was 0:59:18.