“10K must be like a walk in the park for a marathon runner”
said no one, ever.
I am a runner with a lot of habits/superstitions. They are there to ease my mind in the build up and ensure a smooth race. Including: arriving early, eating right, drinking a healthy amount of water, laying out my clothes the night before, listening to my playlist starting with the same song, touching the ground before I start, tapering. Prepare for the race, repair your body, wear the right kit.
A few weeks ago I ran my first 10K race for over a year and a half and the results weren’t pretty. The reason? I did none of the above. I didn’t respect the road.
The race was on a Wednesday evening just down the road from where I live, assuming I knew the area well enough I didn’t check the elevation changes. A key thing in my marathon prep work is to study the course so that you know when to push and when to ease back. The elevation on this 10K was as arguably the biggest I’ve dealt with outside of San Francisco. With a few long steady climbs twinned with one steep section about two thirds of the way through. Not knowing this meant I aimed to push equally per kilometre, the result? A very sweaty and swearing climb.
Due to the small nature of the race, headphones were prohibited as we would be racing on open roads. Another crack in my tradition as a rely on music so heavily to push me in the dark miles. What’s more because of my concentration on half marathons and marathons my Garmin was set to miles not kilometres for pacing which, for a mathematically stunted individual like me resulted in huge confusion.
The list of mess ups is long but regardless of all these self inflicted stupidities I loved the race. What struck me was the sheer camaraderie that we all shared. This 10k was the smallest numbered race I had ever ran and yet it had just as much heart as any big blockbuster race. From runners slowing down to boost a struggling runner they were passing, marshals cheering with genuine glee, sharing a bottle of water with a stranger on a hot day to an elderly runner simply whistling to himself as the kilometres climbed.
I finished the race and smashed my PB, feeling great I wolfed down the free burger, said goodbye to some friends and headed home for some pasta. An hour into ‘Netflix and Warm Down’ the real price for not preparing correctly came to the foreground in the shape of body crumpling cramps. They remained and worsened for a few hours until my body, exhausted by it all, fell asleep.
I don’t know what caused it; the downhill running sections I took to fast, over-hydration or eating a burger right after finishing. What I do know is that you should always respect every race because if you don’t you are doomed to repeat my failures.
Miles Left to Run: 309
NEXT RACE: Lisbon Marathon October 2nd