Great Run Bristol 10k & Vitality London 10000
5 & 27 May 2019
On New Year's Day I tweeted that with the help of my coach Dave Newport my minimum targets for 2019 were 5k 14.45, 10k 31.20 and Half Marathon 69.59; all 3 would be PBs. 5 months of the year gone and I'm well on the way to getting there. I'm yet to beat any of them, but progress has been really encouraging and I'm loving the journey. I'm putting in less time out running, but the running I'm doing is specifically focused to what I need and results are coming.
In May I had two 10ks planned, Bristol at the start as it was the day before entries opened for the Night of the 10,000m PBs to sub 32 runners and London as it's one of my favourite events on the running calendar (more on that later). The aim for Bristol was to better my time from the Bourton 10k in February (32.24) and get back sub 32 so I could enter the Not10kPBs earlier than the sub 33 entry date and also get into a quicker race on the day to help me have a real shot at that sub 31.20 I'd put as my minimum target for the year.
I'm delighted to say that 18 months after my PB of 31.30 at Leeds Abbey Dash in November 2017 I did what I set out to in Bristol and I got back in the sub 32 club; what a feeling! I realise that 31.55 isn't anything special; it's over 2 minutes slower than what my brother Owen ran at Brighton in April and two of my training partners ran 31.09 and 31.15 at the same race, but after a year of disappointment (in running!) it shows I'm really back on the right track and most importantly it gave me the qualifying time I craved for the best event in athletics.
The race went completely to plan. I felt very nervous and unsure of how much company I would have; there were other high profile races not too far away; but needn't have worried as it worked out perfectly. The course heads west out of the city centre onto a nice flat road by the river and under the Clifton Bridge (an awesome sight on a clear day) and I was in a nice rhythm. I messed up starting my watch so had no idea of my time cumulative time, but I got it going on 1km so I could get km splits. Running west was into the wind so was slightly slower than I'd have liked, but I didn't want to use up energy too early. I was alongside another runner at about 2km and we worked together to get upto the group in front and at the turnabout point at 4km there were about 6 of us close together. Suddenly with wind behind things felt much easier; I could feel the group already breaking up so decided to be brave and look to catch the small group around 30m up in front. I was completely on my own, but I kept focusing on the 4 runners up ahead. At about 6km I ran past my mate Jamie and got a good cheer which was great, it wasn't the most well supported race but as we had our names clearly on our bibs I got plenty of cheers which really helped. I kept on pushing and suddenly round the next corner one of the group I up ahead stepped off the road and onto the pavement; I now only had 3 to chase.
I was starting to hurt at about 8km, but just kept telling myself 'only 6 minutes to go' and counting down; I'd stopped looking at my watch, but felt confident I was still in with a shot. With 1km to go I emptied the tank and caught two of the lads in front, we sprinted round the final corner and I looked up and saw the clock with 100m to go; 31.40.....awesome. I went over the line punching the air in delight as the clock ticked onto 31.55; what a feeling!
My friend Alice who had been aiming for sub 39 (which Jamie and I agreed was a joke) came through in a huge PB of 37:23 we were both absolutely buzzing. The next question was; could we go quicker at London a few weeks later?
On top of a rather large hangover after my birthday night out my main issue between the two races was a really sharp toe pain I'd been getting and hoping as going to go away. It was very painful after Bristol and I was really concerned it was something serious. I went to see a physio (Ross @ Linslade Physiotherapy in Leighton Buzzard, highly recommended) and to cut a long story short I pronate on my right foot. I've worked hard to try and rectify the issue and have seen decent improvement.
With that being managed it was onto London! There are many things to love about the Vitality London 10000 (the title is not one of them). You get lots of the best bits of the London Marathon experience without actually having to run a marathon, it's in my home city, the standard is very high as it's the British Championships, the course is pretty quick, the crowd support is superb and as a sub 32 male runner (38 for women) you can gain entry to the Championship Start and elite tents/facilities. This completely takes away the stress of pre race build up and puts you in a great frame of mind to race. Lots of friends had traveled from all over the country to be there too so was great to catch up with them. It gets even better as the professionals share the same facilities as the elite club runners so it was great to be right next to Olympians like Mo Farah, Andy Butchart and Jonathan Brownlee; I loved everything about the hour before the race.
We had to get into the start pen 15 minutes before the race (which felt like an eternity), but bang on 10 O'clock we were off! I was cautious not to go off too quickly but it's hard not to when everyone is flying along The Mall. I was hoping to get to my family (and the halfway clock) in about 15.50 and had just settled into a decent rhythm when suddenly at 4km I heard a shout and there they were! It gave me a real boost (also I then knew I'd get another lift at 6km on the way back) , I particularly loved seeing my kids who (along with Sarah, my parents and my aunt and uncle) had a great day out; everyone was happy!
At halfway I was amazed to see that I hit the timing mat at 15.45; just quicker than plan and bang on PB pace. Unlike when I ran 15.48 for 5000m a few weeks ago in the Southern Athletics League I felt like I had a decent amount still left in the tank. That said, i knew it wasn't going to be easy. I got back to my family at 6km by St Paul's and they roared me on; it was a great feeling. Then, I turned the corner and woosh the wind was in our faces. I managed to latch onto a group and get a bit of shelter and together we picked off people who had gone off too quick. It started to hurt at about 8km on the Strand but I knew there was a nice downhill and then a mile is nothing. Birdcage walk for the final km felt long, but unlike when I was there for the marathon I still had speed in my legs and I was hunting my mate Paul Mizon; I didn't quite catch him but I was delighted to run 31.38 for 70th place. 17 seconds quicker than Bristol and only 8 seconds off my PB! Dave's training is working and I can't wait for the Not10kPBs to have a real go at my PB; it feels so good to be back approaching PB shape.
Alice had another storming run; paced by Jamie to go sub 37 (remember at Bristol she was hoping for sub 39!!) with 36.56 for 46th; superb.
Over the next few weeks I'll be focusing on the 5000m and looking to get back down towards 15 minutes and maybe get under again; it's going to be fun trying.