Since starting to run and take part in races I have always said that one day I would like to run a sub 45 minute 10k – did I think that day would be the Lincoln 10k 2017? Not at all. But stood waiting to get my medal engraved post run it almost seemed unreal that I was having 44:18 inscribed on the back – a new PB, nearly three and half minutes quicker than my previous 10k record, and virtually 10 minutes quicker than my last 10k race.
Throughout the previous years I have taken part in my hometown event, I have always enjoyed ‘Lincoln 10k Day’ as it has quickly become known. It is special to share running and race experiences with others, and whilst I am lucky to have friends who I share many running memories with, the Lincoln 10k involves so many other people I know it is great to be able to celebrate and witness such achievement. I was excited for the day; both the run and the post run celebrations which have also become a bit of tradition. I felt like I had the potential to challenge my existing 47.40 PB, it was three years old, and after a string of disappointing 10ks during 2016, I felt like I wanted to prove I had become stronger.
Having to wait until 11am to start the race felt like forever having spent the last few months getting up early on Sunday mornings for a long marathon training run. The benefit of living in Lincoln though is that I could enjoy a nice relaxed walk to my friend’s house, and then onto the start line, with some of the usual stress of race day removed. Standing in the start funnel I recognised many faces around me and filing into the pens, reinforcing my belief that the 10k really does bring the city together. On our walk to the start I had noticed the starting section of the course was very narrow, so I was prepared to begin slow and then launch my attack. I had a risky strategy of treating the race like a parkrun and seeing how long I could hold on for – probably not overly recommended, but we all have to try something new sometimes!
As predicted the start was narrow and slow, but rather than panic I knew it was only a couple of hundred metres until we would be set free onto a much larger road – the benefits of local knowledge! Entering this road I felt unleashed and soon got my legs to turn over quicker and settle into a good rhythm. My first mile was very quick, and as I neared the end of mile two I feared I might have blown it already as things started to feel less easy. The thought I was going to struggle entered my mind briefly, but I pushed it out equally as quick as I headed onto familiar roads and broke the course back down into miles - hang in there for another mile and see how it goes. Between mile two and three everything changed, I lost the uncomfortable sensation and really hit a solid running pattern; my legs, arms, breathing, everything felt in sync, and I started to take over many other runners who perhaps and gone a little too quick to begin with.
The Lincoln 10k course is reasonably flat although there are some small inclines which feel harsh because of the speed you are attacking them at. It was on one of the first real climbs that I truly felt I was strong and found myself coming off the incline without faltering, a sign my legs were ok. The next stretch was all about maintaining, and with my watch going over the four mile mark, the thought of ‘only’ two more miles suddenly seemed very achievable. As I reached five miles a glance at my watch then told me a good PB was on. This spurred me to attack the final mile, which is predominantly on a gradual incline and at that point feels horrendous on the legs!
I think I ran the majority of this final 1.2 miles with gritted teeth and a visible grimace (please do not be any race photos from this bit!) The streets were lined well here and the support was amazing. I was spurred on mostly though by the volunteers and runners from Lincoln parkrun who had formed their own cheer station and were loudly encouraging me and lots of other runners through the final stretch, it was such a boost to feel some parkrun spirit and I think my grimace may have briefly become a smile!
Turning the final corner I felt like I was throwing myself towards the line as I stopped the clock on 44:18. A steward tried to funnel me away from the finish line area, but I remained where I was (sorry!) and instantly looked for my friend to finish. She was not far behind me, which I knew meant she had ran very well, and had in fact recorded her own PB. We congratulated each other in a state of slight disbelief, followed by pride, and then just pure happiness. I think our beaming smiles said it all. It was definitely time to enjoy our post run refreshments!
Running a sub 45 minute 10k felt amazing, a new PB is always a great feeling too, but what I think mattered most to me was that I felt so much incredibly stronger and healthier than last year running the same event. The 2016 Lincoln 10k was a week after I had completed the Manchester Marathon, which I know is not really a valid comparison; but fast forward a year and overall I feel like a totally different runner. When running is such a huge part of your life, little victories like this make it all seem that extra bit worthwhile.
Alice's Adventures In Running Land
Read about my adventures in running land...