I entered the Trafford 10k around 6 or 7 weeks ago when there were a few of the 1000 places left. Mrs Mac also got in. I resolved that if I was going to beat myself up on a 10k this year, I'd at least give myself a chance and run the highest profile and fastest 10k in town. Well, its not in my town, its in South Manchester, so it required a 6 hour round trip and an over-niter in a hotel. I had been to the shopping outlet earlier in the week to get a pair of Adidas Boosts, as I wasn't convinced that the Hokas were the best shoe for this event.
I woke this morning the birds were tweeting, the dawn was breaking and there wasn't a breath of wind. So far so good. After porridge at seven, we had a short drive to Partington and collected our numbers. No entries on the line today.
There was an air of expectation outside, but quite a different air in the toilets as I chatted to one guy from Birmingham, a student from Bristol Uni and another from some other far flung part of the UK. They came from all places. We were all there for one thing...the 10k that is...you know what I mean, a quick time. Outside as I tried to look like a contender, I noticed names on numbers like Lancashire, Davies and Williams. I said hello to Ian H from our club who like everyone, was going through their own warm up ritual. Some more affected than others and a little bizarre to watch if you're not a runner.
The course was on a closed loop through narrow, flat countryside lanes bordered by hedges and peppered with farm entrances. We were herded together as the thermometer hit double figures and we were off sharpish. It was perfect running weather. There was chip timing but it only took me 12 seconds to get over the line. I had done 40 minutes dead in a training run on Wednesday so I knew I could achieve a sub 40 minuter at least. I even predicted 39:39 last week on this blog, but the hordes in front of me after the start limited movement and I struggled to get through the first mile before things thinned out a little.
I caught a small group at 3 miles and passed the 5k mark in around 18:30. All I had to do was keep it together. A couple of the group dropped off and I sat in behind a women with cropped hair, black top and a metronomic, purposeful pace. My thinking was if I could stick with her, we would continue to do 6 minute miles and I could forget about everything else...just tuck in, relax and try not to look like I was having a cardiac. I spied a clubmate, Rob, up ahead and counted him around 15 seconds ahead, but I cleared my mind and just grafted. In out in out went the breathing; pound, pound, pounding out the steady rhythm.
The last kilometre was on a poor surface, but having run along it during the warm up, I knew where the potholes were and tried to keep a good racing line and hey presto, the finish was there and going a little blue and well into the anaerobic zone, I hauled my exhausted body over the line for 37:24 (7th O50).
During the warm down I caught up with Rob H and son, both having great runs. I then had a low glucose moment with profuse sweating, but as I was still mildly delirious and elated with the time, it didn't bother me. As I ran back along the lane, I overheard the conversation of a couple of runners as they passed each other. It went something like this.......
'How did you do Alex?'
'Good run cheers; 29:54'
How did you do?'
Where else would you hear those times in casual conversation. Today 1 runner beat 29 minutes and 27 runners beat 30 minutes, with a huge haul of PB's and SB's. As plans go, this was a good one. One of my better ones. Mrs Mac seemed happy with her time as well, so happy days. I quite like this planning lark.