Lincoln 10k is an event I always look forward too – my hometown 10k means there are constantly lots of friends I know taking on the challenge, both from my running circles and wider connections across the city. It was also my first ever running event back in 2013 and I have not missed one since. The fact the race was cancelled in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic made this year’s event feel even more exciting.
My excitement to have the 10k back was however slightly tainted by the fact in the months preceding I had been battling with an Achilles injury which had meant my running miles had been few and far between. As the weeks of injury ticked along, the ‘Lincoln 10k’ written on my calendar loomed closer, but I remained hopeful I could make the start line. My dedication to rehab paid dividend and I was delighted a few weeks before race day when my Sports Therapist said I would be able to complete the event. I was under no illusion that I would be quick, or challenging a PB, or any similar notion, but to know I could be there running with friends around my City felt fantastic.
Usually, the Lincoln 10k is held in Spring, and the weather tends to be cool and crisp (if you ignore the year it got postponed due to snow and was then held in a June heatwave…). With a Covid shuffle, this year’s October date instead greeted us with a wild and wet morning, which only proved to become increasingly wetter as the morning progressed. The forecast had not been great, so I had at least prepared for this weather. At our final Run Club session pre the 10k I had advised fellow members taking on the race to bring an old jumper and bin bag to the start line to try and keep warm and dry before running. A few of them seemed to think I was mad, but as I met up with my club on race morning, I was pleased to see a bin bag wearing crew huddled under the vague shelter of some trees. I had walked to the race start with my sister who was visiting to take on the event too, and whilst it was only a steady rain when we set off, as the time ticked by the droplets became increasingly heavier and the wind even stronger.
By the time we were stood in the start pen the weather can only be described as truly grim. Despite this fact, I was excited to start running; I felt no pressure, even less so in the conditions, and my only thought was to enjoy running again. If I could get sub 50 minutes, I would be happy, and if my legs made it through 6 miles, I would be even happier, as I had not ran that far since July.
As soon as I stared running, I felt such joy; for moments I almost forgot about the cold rain pelting my skin and the puddles instantly soaking my feet. I know the 10k route like the back of my hand, so had no need to contemplate the course, I also felt no desire to look at my watch either; I simply wanted to run to feel and just see what my body was capable of. The first few miles just flew by, several people I knew in the hardy crowd braving the rain to spectate cheered my name, and I knew my smile was beaming. Halfway came before I knew it; I felt good still, keeping amongst a similar crowd of runners and showing no sign of my legs giving up on me.
During the final three miles the weather deteriorated even further, if that was possible. The roads became flooded in places and the wind seemed more noticeable into my face. I still could not believe how well I was running though; I felt really fit and my legs were still moving at a good pace, perhaps just lacking that power I know I used to feel when running quicker 10k times. I was certainly happy though.
As I entered the final mile I realised I was catching up with my sister, who had been in my eyesight throughout the race, but I now seemed to be closing in on her. Turning to enter the long road to the finish, which very gradually inclines, I was just about to catch her up, when she pulled up at the side of the road next to me. I instantly shouted to her asking what was wrong. She had a stitch which was making running very painful. With less than a mile to go there was no way I was letting her stop nor was I going to leave her. I urged her on with me, and we ran side by side heading towards the finish line, as I relayed words of encouragement/distraction to keep her going. It was this final mile I feared may be the point where I blew up, my legs not used to working so hard for so long. I was ok though, and as we turned by the famous Lincoln Cathedral to head towards the finishing arch, I urged my sister into a sprint finish. She had the legs on me now (there are some great photos of me chasing her down in the finish straight!) but I did still have some sprint left. It was only when I finished that I actually looked at my watch – I had not glanced at it at all during the race. 45:11 it read. My sister finished a second ahead of me.
I was absolutely soaked as I stood at the finish with my sister, absorbing not just more water into my saturated clothing, but also what I had just achieved. I did not expect to run a time close to 45 minutes, nor to feel as comfortable as I did in the process. My fitness pleased me; I have been working hard even during periods when I have not been able to run to maintain my fitness, cycling and spinning constantly over the weeks. This race was a real indication to me that this dedication has paid off and left me with a good platform to continue to build from.
Post-race the weather showed no sign of letting up; I took off my drenched gloves (I ran in a rather strange combination of shorts, vest and gloves..!) and literally wrung them out, water pouring from them. The heavens opened fully as I collected my medal and I felt for all the people still out on the course. The fact so many of us turned out in this weather to run I think shows just how much events like the 10k mean to people, and just how important running is. It was good to be back in many senses.
Alice's Adventures In Running Land
Read about my adventures in running land...