2009 Wells 10k

I’m currently down in Somerset doing a spot of house sitting, and keeping an eye on my Gran, whilst my parents are away on holiday. Naturally, as my previous post suggests, I’ve been keeping up the running and a local 10k – the Wells 10k Fun Run – organised by local running club Wells City Harriers seemed like an absolute must.

I have a bit of history with the Wells ‘Fun Run’. It was, believe it or not, the very first race I ever took part in. Back in 1984 (or so), when it was a 5.5 mile run around the outskirts of Wells. I think I got around in about 55 minutes, which felt quite respectable for a 11 or 12 year old. I see the Wells City Harriers have a few old results up from around then. Fingers crossed they might scan in the results for the races I took part in. Would love to know. Slightly sad too that I didn’t keep it up in any way. I suppose mostly that was due to my own lack of interest, but also that nobody seemed to suggest that recreational sport was good. It was competition level, or nothing. And I certainly wasn’t going to be representing anything.

No matter. It’s a different setup altogether now. There are 1k for youngsters, then a 3 mile and 10k distance options for adults. The 3 mile and 10k distance are essentially one and two laps respectively, of the east side of Wells. For the first time, the 10k was full to capacity too.

I watched the shorter races set off (I’d arrived very early due to Frances needing the car to ferry a few people around back in Priddy), with the 10k due to start at 11am. Somebody had quite impressively parked a car right by the start line (despite the market place being closed to cars), but the organisers were unable to trace them. The area was deserted otherwise, so some quite stunningly bad parking.

I’d not decided on tactics, but the very warm weather (and not a cloud in the sky), and rumours of a tough hill at the end of the lap, made me think pushing for a fast time, close to my 10k PB, was probably a waste of effort, even before considering I’ve done very little speed training in the last couple of months. But that didn’t stop me trying. We set off and took care to dodge the streams that perpetually run down Wells High Street (accurately described as ‘real ankle breakers’ in the safety briefing).

The course is a good one – the main section of the course is along a cycle path from Wells to Dulcote. But it was tough going. The sun just beat down, and there were plenty of stretches without any shade at all, and felt like a gradual incline. My first few splits were good, but some seconds behind what I needed to push my PB.

Welcome relief in Dulcote from some enterprising youngsters armed with a decent array of water pistols. Second time around I encouraged them to give me their best shot, and got a very welcome soaking. But then that second time, I knew what lay ahead!

That’d be the hill coming out of Dulcote back in to Wells, and it’s a real toughy. At roughly 3.5k and 8.5k the hill doesn’t seem too bad, but gradually builds up. It’s quite an ascent, and given the way I felt the 2nd time around, perhaps gives me some self-justification for not having done any hill running so far! But I was chuffed to bits to keep plodding away, and not need to stop or drop my pace any further than I already had. My effort felt consistent.

The most picturesque part of the course is the end the lap, which takes you past Bishops’ palace, with it’s beautiful moat, and a good amount of support from the earlier runners. Definitely a good point. Second time around the finish was a lot further around than I’d expected. Somebody barrelled past me in the finishing straight, something I’ve only managed to do once or twice.

The clock suggested at time of 46:13 – I’d not started my watch properly. I finished with a time of 46:20 (79th out of 360 overall). I’m quite pleased to be honest, still almost 2 minutes off my PB, but with a hill like that not once but twice on the course, and in warm and sunny conditions. I’m also acutely aware I need to get more speed work done, and train more at race pace, so that I get more used to pushing myself hard for longer periods of time.

10k’s are a distance I struggle with. There’s something just awkward about it for me. I find, like most runners, that you can just ‘hang on’ in a nice short 5k. It’s over before you know it. A half marathon it’s about a consistent pace for longer, so it’s about finding a level your body can sustain. But 10k’s fall somewhere in between, and I’m struggling. I suspect – as with so much about running – a lot of it is mental, but think if I’m to push my 10k time down, I’ve a bit more work ahead of me over the coming months.

But anyway, the 10k was a great event. Very well organised, and I’m chuffed to bits to have a mug, rather than a medal, to mark the occasion – it’ll remind me of my day every morning for a good while longer 🙂

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