Race report: Women’s Running 10k, River Lee Country Park

Keep breathing
Keep breathing

When the new dates for the Women’s Running 10k series were announced I was pleased to see a new addition to the list with their first event of the series at Lee River Country Park. This was billed as a flat course (hopefully flatter than the allegedly flat Finsbury Park course!) and I decided to use this as an opportunity for a PB ahead of the BUPA 10k later this month. I had finished Finsbury Park in 65:17 but my training has been going well & I recently put in a fast 5km at Chelmsford parkrun so my runcoach prediction for 10km was sitting at 60:15. Not really trusting the course flatness I decided that I’d be really pleased with 61:00 if I could do it and my plan was to use the 60 minute pacer they had provided to make sure I was close to my goal.
We got to the race with 15 minutes so spare having driven up (& round in circles to find the event) from Gunpowder Park parkrun, as I felt it was a bit mean for The Boyf to miss out on a run and a parkrun t-shirt point given there was one so close. A quick loo stop and I joined the start pen slightly back from the 60 pacer, I didn’t want to go off too fast and decided if I took things easy and kept her in sight all would be good.

image sprint finish
Sprint finish

I was also testing out gels again and had taken a Key Lime Accel Gel (4:1 carb:protein ratio) with my coffee before we left and then I took a Passion Fruit Push in the start pen. The plan being that I would be nicely topped up and able to give everything I wanted to in the race.
We counted down and we were off bang on 10:00. I shuffled through the start, hit start on my Garmin and we were off. Determined to take things easy in the first kilometre, I made sure I stuck to a gentle jog and didn’t feel under any strain, that said a couple of glances at my Garmin showed me sitting around 5:55-6:05 pace and I started to make up ground on the 60 pacer. By about 800m I was starting to find it a bit frustration sitting in the group behind her, I felt penned in and was having to concentrate to much on my strides to avoid clipping other runners. I decided that it was going to be better for me to run at my natural pace for the day and so gently eased past around the 1km mark. The course was 2 laps mostly run on path with some grass around the start/finish zone and

image still sprinting
Still sprinting

I decided to take the first lap at a comfortable pace to get to know the course and identify any tricky bits for lap 2. It lived up to its promise though and except for some slight inclines onto and off bridges it was a pretty flat course. The first water station was at about 3.5km but already having some grape nuun with me I skipped that and kept pushing on. I felt really good on the first lap and The Boyf was definitely surprised to see me coming round to the half-way point so quickly, and ahead of the 60 pacer too. I tried to keep the same steady pace going for lap 2 and so kept focused on my breathing and keeping fast even strides. It started to feel harder at around the 7km mark but by now I was determined to finish sub60, all I had to do was keep going and if the 60 pacer caught me then I’d just have to stick with her and hang on. I stayed strong though, grabbed a water as I went past the drink stop and managed to cool my hands and de-salt my face. I get very hot when running and if I feel like I am over-hearing then panic sets in and that’s not good. Still focusing on my breathing I kep pushing forward and it was great to see the 9km marker. I was still comfortably ahead of the pace group, I could hear them periodically but knew they weren’t right on my tail and just kept thinking of the finish, then we hit the 200m marker which involved a short climb up to and over the bridge and then a run in to the finish on grass. As we hit the bridge I picked up the pace, I wanted to get over it ahead of the 2 women just ahead of me, I did that and then pushed on for a sprint finish across the grass. I managed to overtake 3 more women as we headed for the line so was really happy with that.

Thank goodness that’s done! #newPB

By the time I had collected my medal, t-shirt and goody bag I had received my text with my official finish time of 58:48…..PB smashed! To say I am pleased would be an understatement, when I hoped to get 60:00 for this run it felt realistic but it all seemed to come together on the day and I never felt that I over-strained myself (shown by the fact that I didn’t have to take any walk breaks to lower my heart-rate). I think that fuelling with the gels beforehand helped, because I normally train fasted my body must feel like it gets a special treat when I fuel and it obviously makes the most of it. I’ll continue to train the way I do because it means that I know I can do it when I’m empty and I won’t panic if I don’t manage to eat pre-race. Then when I give myself a pre-race treat I know it’s going to make me even better.
Tomorrow I’m running a half marathon but will be treating it as a Long Slow Run not a race (at least that’s my intention now, who can tell what will happen in the morning).

Garmin stats (pretty stoked with 85th)

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