Two weeks ago I ran my first race, the Great Manchester Run 10km. I’m very late in writing this, but what follows is my thoughts on the race and my experience.

Before the Race:

As I’ve previously noted, I only got my space for this race a few weeks before the event, and hadn’t ran the distance without injuring myself for a couple of months. I was worried about pushing myself too hard, and immediately started increasing my mileage back to 10km in the weeks beforehand. Things went well and I managed a practice 10km with a week to go, finishing in a fairly disappointing 1 hour and 6 minutes. It was nowhere near my best but I was glad to have  done the distance. Going in to the race, my main goal was not to hurt myself, and my second goal was to complete it in less than an hour if possible.

Training went well and I tapered my mileage back down, with only a fast mile two days before the race. I tried out all of my nutrition ahead of time and on Saturday night ate a light pasta meal so as to have some energy but not to be too full.

On the day of the race I woke up at a fairly reasonable 8am and, taking no chances, got a taxi to the train station at 8:30. My train was due in at 9:30 but didn’t arrive until around 10:05 and, rather than my expected time of 11am, I didn’t get to Manchester until 12pm, with the race due to start at 12:25. I sprinted to the baggage drop off which acted as my warm up and with moments to spare, managed to get back to the starting line in time. I had left 1 1/2 hours to spare which meant that I arrived on time, but for the future I’ll definitely keep in mind that it’s important to allow as much time as possible. I also had some trouble finding where I was going, so there’s that to keep in mind too.

The Race itself:

After crossing the starting line it was my priority to make sure I went slower than I thought necessary, and I’m glad I had my GPS watch on because I found myself racing off with momentum only to realise that I would probably just injure myself or wear myself out. I managed to settle at a 6:00/km pace and tried to maintain a steady position, not overtaking too many people or being overtaken too often. I felt a bit stiff at first but the crowds kept me going and after 20 minutes I had my first energy gel.

Getting to the halfway line felt good but it was after that point that things got harder. I had ran my usual, comfortable distance and now it had begun to heat up and I was committed to speeding myself up to a 5:30/km pace to guarantee the sub-hour pace. I did so and was very appreciative of the water being handed out and the showers that were available to run through. With 8km finished I was getting weary but noticed I was more regularly starting to get ahead of people and looked at my watch to see that 45 mins had passed and if I stayed on course I would be well capable of finishing in my goal time of under an hour.

I sped up to 5:00/km in pace and really started to struggle, but as my watch went off to alert me of the approaching final kilometre, it occurred to me that a PB was possible. I continued to speed up, aware of the danger but assured that I was running a negative split, almost sprinting through the final moments of the race. With the crowd either side of me I kept pushing and was relieved when I saw the finish line ahead of me. I pushed myself across and was amazed to see that my time was well within my best hopes – 55:46. Going off my watch being correct in the suggestion that the course is slightly over 10km, that gives me a new 10km PB of 55:02. A brilliant experience, lessons learned and momentum gathered; a great preparation for the Great North Run.

Final Thoughts

  • A great race and overall experience
  • It’s important not to start too fast, but speeding up with each km is good!
  • You can never be too early!
  • Good nutrition helps; I had some energy gels at the 20 and 40 minute marks

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