This is an article I wrote in 2015 after I ran the Bangor 10K as my first proper 10K race. It was a fabulous experience, and one I hope to repeat.
Race day arrived on a Saturday in October, I drove down to Bangor. Leaving the car and moving through the competitors I stood stationary, packed in with strangers standing all around.
Some had already worked out what they needed to do – get to the front before the race started, easier than it sounded, we were fairly tightly packed in and room for manoeuvre was limited and, as more people came up from the back, the rows of runners in front closed in on each other. I settled for staying where I was and doing some more stretches, moving my legs and trying to keep myself mobile.
As the clock ticked down the announcer started to speak, I’d love to be able to recall what he said, unfortunately I can’t, as I couldn’t understand a word of the jumbled noise that was coming through the speakers, the PA system needed a bit of an upgrade – a bit like the signs to the toilets in the nearby shopping centre! When you walked through past the shops there wasn’t a clue where to find them, eventually I reached a lift, but this said the toilets were one floor up and the lift indicated it only went down. So naturally I opened the door for the stairs, which also only went down.
Confusion reigned as a group of runners all ready to go, were now in an equal state of frustration. It was only upon entering the lift and inspecting the buttons, that I found it did indeed go up a floor! What a crazy system.
But I digress, back on the starting line the horn had sounded and we were off, slowly for the first couple of seconds, the bodies in front of me started to move faster, suddenly we were away and I remembered advice from a friend:
So I looked at my watch and kept the pace around 7 minute miles, a little slower than I’d wanted, but given the toilet search had taken up more time than expected I’d not been able to warm up properly and didn’t want to risk injury or anything else that might slow me down today.
The town centre slipped by quickly, I was concentrating on dodging the runners around me, some I overtook, and some overtook me, one lady was stopped by a garden gate, holding on with one hand and shaking her trainer with the other to get some stones out, I felt for her, lost time can’t be a good thing in a race.
Soon enough I was out on Bangor Pier, and nearing the first mile I was locked in behind a chap who must have been doing a few seconds faster than my pace, I decided as we turned to run back that it was time to step up to my normal 10K pace so I pushed on, passing him and then slowly overtaking some others, we reached the A5 and followed this up hill, to turn off and then on the Sustrans route 5, out into the local woodland – we would shortly turn back around and retrace the route into town, but this part of the route was tricky to read, up to this point I had the advantage of having been out on the route previously in a recce, however this part hadn’t been accesible, and I knew from the route profile that there were a couple of rises to come so I kept my pace around the higher end of where I wanted it.
Once the town centre came back into view I felt that it was time to push my pace, but at that moment a weird feeling of lethargy hit me, why not walk was the initial thought, which really surprised me, I knew I could run at this pace and for this distance, I’d done it, so why question myself?
I did my best to stop that thought and instead concentrated on getting into the town. From here my pace quickened and crossing the line, I found no other runners around, it was a great feeling, my time, 42 minutes which I was really pleased with, I reckon there is definite room for improvement too!
Want to improve your 10K time, then you need to read this.