On Sunday, I ran my second 10K race of the year, one month after setting a surprising 40:40 PB in Kani.
I originally hoped to challenge that PB because the course wasn’t nearly as hilly, and I was coming off the back of a strong half-marathon three weeks earlier.
My expectations fell somewhat when I got bad hay fever and the forecast predicted a warm day, over 10 degrees higher than we had in Kani. Still, I held out a glimmer of hope and ran as hard as I could.
What went wrong
Firstly, I forgot my wallet. That meant I didn’t have a pre-race drink, other than a small bottle of an unknown Japanese energy drink. I was also without my usual tuna rice ball. All I had was a banana and a vitamin jelly a friend gave me. I was parched before the race even started.
I then made the mistake of going out too hard. The first couple of kilometers were downhill and I started near the front so I was pulled along at around 3:50/km pace out of the gate. This happens to me often with downhill starts, and this time I paid for it. When the road evened out there was a huge gap in front of me. I must have been 80m behind the guy in front and the gap was widening. I’d much rather be sitting on someone’s shoulder than running on my own.
A few guys went past me, but I had already used my turbo boost at the start and wasn’t able to go with them. Instead, it was a bit disheartening to have so little to give so early in the race. The water station at 6km was a welcome sight and a mouthful of water made a big difference. I felt more in control and ran well for a bit before a long uphill drained me of my new found energy.
By this stage, I was zigzagging, trying to find holes in the large groups of tail-enders running the half-marathon, who had started 15 minutes before us. Had I been on target for a PB I would have been cursing the race schedule. It should have been obvious to the planners that the fastest 10K runners would catch up and have to run through the slowest half-marathoners, sharing a single lane!
I did get through, though, and battled with all I had left up the last hill to the race track where we started. Unlike the previous year where I got a big high five from Olympic gold medalist and former world-record holder Naoko Takahashi, she was busy cheering on the kids doing the 3K. When she saw me, arm out-stretched, she reached and our fingertips touched just before I crossed the line. It was rather symbolic of my race – close, but not close enough.
I finished in 42:19, my fourth best time for a 10K. I did learn some lessons that should help in next week’s half-marathon, but I’ll save them for another blog post.