Today was my first race of the season. It all came about quite conveniently… after last years expedition to the Tamworth 10K, my colleagues and I had decided to do another. We chose a nice flat route to test our progress over the winter, and being a Staffordshire based bunch, we settled on the Fradley Flyer – a lovely flat two-lap 10K just outside of Lichfield. It was only later that we realised that the 10th March was also Mothers Day! Not to worry, my folks live in Fradley… I was safe at least!!!! Phew…
The day started with the usual race-day chaos – where’s my banana! Who’s moved my pumps! Safety Pins? Anyone!!!! Coupled with ensuring Trenthamfolk Jnr was not being a little shit and was (at least) pretending to look after his Mum, it was a relief to catch my lift and head off into the SNOW, towards this little village and my Mum’s best cooking. Although today, the treat would have to be earn’t.
Having raced for three years, this was the first time my folks would be out supporting me on-route. Obviously, I had incorrectly informed them of the position of the start line, hence I left my frozen colleagues and went in search of the old folks (they were to be guardians of my kit bag). I found them wandering about in the general area I had suggested, handed the bag over and made for the start line. I was looking for my friends, but in the sea of fluorescent tops, I had no chance. I chose a spot 1/3 the way up the field and waited for the start.
As the hooter sounded, I made for the grass verges to get around a few folk intent on having a natter, and made sure I started my watch as I crossed the start line. The race was chip timed, but I have improved over the winter, and I wanted an early indication of my pace: Timex style. It was snowing quite hard at this point, I started to feel my legs and assess my pace, and concentrate on the task in hand.
Mum & Dad were down the lane, and cheered as I legged it past. I hoped I didn’t look to awful later on. The route was indeed flat, and despite a very early rise to get over the canal, it levelled off nicely. Whilst the road undulated slightly, I barely noticed. The route wound through the village, and out onto the long straight country lanes that traverse the area. I was being overtaken by a lot of faster runners, but I had Gareth’s voice (from club) in my head… “Run your own f**king race”… best advice I aver had. I relaxed my neck, and leant into my stride. 2KM down…
The first lap was great… at 4.5k Mum and Dad took a picture, and the crowds in the village at the 5K point were going mental as we ran past, cheering and calling encouraging things… but soon enough we were back out into the countryside. There’s not a lot to say about this. Flat, arable land, free range eggs anyone? I got to the 7km mark and my shins were complaining… It was time for mental resolve… pushing on, snow in face, I noticed I was gaining on a few of the overtakers, and it felt good. As I passed them I was lifted, and started to taste victory…
There had been a group ahead of me all race, which had all but disappeared by the 9KM mark, just a lonely lady runner in a bright blue top… Target acquired. I pulled up my sleeves, looked at my watch (44 mins, check!) and picked it up. Lady in blue bought it after 30 seconds, which surprised me… As I honed in on the village, a couple of chaps passed me, but I knew I had my sprint finish in the bag… I was on it. Mum & Dad were at the corner as we turned into the field…. shrieking encouragement, I dropped another gear and belted it mast my last-minute overtakers to finish in just over 49 minutes.
He who shall remain nameless came in 4 mins before me (as expected, good show bro), whilst the others in our group piled in behind in quick succession. Mum and Dad were again on hand to offer praise and take pictures. I was very pleased, my first sub-50 minute 10K. We parted company, and I headed off home to be fed… my Mum was convinced that I was now malnourished after a 6 mile run, and therefore needed to eat an entire butchers. Don’t mind if I do!
Thanks for the cheering folks, to Fradley for the rousing support, to TrenthamRC for pushing me on this winter, to Ruthie, Matt, Uncle Andy and the ‘Nameless One’ for motivating and challenging me, to Mrs Trenthamfolk who came and collected me, and to all my running friends who inspire me daily.
Today I took a 5 minute chunk out of my previous 10K PB, and for that I’m enormously proud. Onwards and upwards.