Mark's account of a classic race that also saw Fran and Amelia competing for the Sri Chinmoy AC
For the past three weekends it had been wet and windy and I was preparing myself for the challenge of running head long into a stiff wind on Weston's famous promenade. However, on the day you could not have asked for better conditions on this marvellous flat 10k course. The sky was blue and the sun was golden, and pleasantly mild for this time of year Ã¢â¬â the impact of global warning is becoming all too obvious.
It felt like spring and a spring was certainly in my step. This was to be my first 10k race in over 20 years. For a long time I had shunned competitive racing due to a heady mix of numerous long term injuries, lethargy, lack of confidence and lack of enthusiasm and lack of ambition. When I was young I was highly competitive, and then I made the decision that I was to be one of those runners that ran just to keep fit, to supplement by footballing ambitions. You had to be quick and have plenty of stamina to survive pub league football and the many 5 a-side games I played. Never that brilliant, just average really Ã¢â¬â my team mates called me Ã¢â¬ËRunning Man'! I never stopped running around the pitch, and no loss cause was everÃ¢â¬ ¦ well, lost.
Anyway, back to the race. I made my way to Weston College where other runners congregated to change. One of the best aspect of this race is it is a fun race, where the organisers encourage competitors to dress up in fancy dress, and it is mandatory for every runner to wear at least one piece of Christmas tinsel. It is an end of year get together and an opportunity to run in a festive mood and raise some money in the process.
As I got changed a man in a Ã¢â¬Ë60s psychedelic cat suit caught my eye. You couldn't exactly miss him. Will the cat suit catch on, who knows? Perhaps it's good for post race recovery, like those Skins fabric that assist muscle recovery. Every runner thinks any little advantage may help. As you would expect there were plenty of runners wearing Father Christmas hats. I didn't wear one Ã¢â¬â too much drag factor.
I made the short distance to the start on the beach under the pier where those in fancy dress were being judged. As you would expect there were fairies, elves and Santa Claus. The huddled hundreds with colourful tinsel flowing got ready to start.
In fact 1,254 runners actually finished - see results at:
I was content to start in the middle of the field and take it easy. At 10.00 the gun exploded and wet sand under foot I jogged off to see the fast, serious runners sprint like gazelles across the beach. A few hundred meters and I was in carnival, fun run mode, and still even coming up to the 1k mark. Then I had to remind myself that this was a race and not one of my leisurely runs, and from first gear I stepped up to third gear and quickened my cadence across the somewhat soft sand. Running into the sunlight, and feeling the rays on your face with the light breeze and the smell of the sea reminded me so much of running back in Cornwall. As I sped up I passed Amelia (Sri Chinmoy A.C. London). I would see her again later at the end of the race.
The first part of the course is on the beach, the larger middle section along the promenade and local roads, and the final section back on itself onto the beach again.
Over half way into the race and I was motoring on nicely and on target to get below 40 minutes. At one point I looked at my watch and believed I could get under 38 minutes. I continued to make good progress and throughout the whole race no one passed me. I think that was a sign that I started too slowly. Running the final stretch back on the beach was a brilliant finale, if a little but soft under foot and heavy on the legs, but I was pleased to have run the last 2k very strongly. I achieved my target and got under 40 minutes with a time of 39.30.
I saw Amelia after the race and she gained a PB of 44.53, whilst Fran, unfortunately got a personal worst, but I think she was suffering from a bad cold.
This was a great reintroduction to 10k racing and the organisation was slick and faultless. I felt a real sense of joy and achievement to have participated. It is certainly a race I will mark on my calendar for next year. Hopefully more runners from Sri Chinmoy A.C. will participate next year.
So inspired by this race and in the knowledge that with some serious training I can run faster, I looked for another 10k race to run in. And, my next race is the Mounts Bay 10k on 4th February 2007 down in Marazion, Cornwall; not a stone's throw away from the town where I grew up, and where my parents still reside, Penzance. Let's see if I can self-transcend the time of 39.30.