I decided to call the blog 'Running up those hills' as A. 'Running up that hill' was already taken, B. I live in Liverpool which is full of hills so my runs often consist of running up multiple hills and C. Who can resist a Kate Bush reference? I have a love/hate relationship with hills. Running them does make you faster in the long run and what comes up must come down, but when you fancy a really fast run and there are very few flat places around it does become difficult. A hill right at the very end of a 10 mile training run once defeated me and I hit 'the wall'. I was at the bottom of the hill and just could not face it. I sat down and took some time to compose myself mentally and finally ran up it.
Anyway, my first blog post isn't going to be just about hills. I'm going to do a race report of the hottest, sweatiest and fastest 10k I've ran so far in my running career.
I won a place on the Bupa Great Manchester 10k through Women's Running Magazine and was so excited as this was the first race I ever ran 2 years ago. I had never managed to break the time that I got on that 10k race so I knew that this would be a prime opportunity to get a new 10k pb. I had been in training for 2 half marathons in March and May, so I actually didn't dedicate much training at all specifically to the 10k distance, but I felt healthier and faster than I ever have done.
I was SO sweaty. All along the final stretch (between miles 5 and 6) was along a dual carriageway with no shelter at all. As my wave set off at 11.30, we were running in the baking midday heat. There was a water station at 4.5k and a shower at 7k, both of which I took full advantage of to cool down. They really could have done with putting out some extra water at the 8k mark though where they had the bupa boost point with jelly babies and massages (who is going to stop mid-race for a massage?!). A lot of people were suffering with the heat.
The route itself isn't anything special unless you're a Man Utd fan I guess (which I'm not). It gets a little bit boring looping back onto the same dual carriageway again. Although it starts in the city centre, you're out of it almost instantly and most of it is actually in Trafford. When I did it the first time I decided it was a pretty boring route and wouldn't bother entering again as it's so expensive, but I was lucky enough to win this place. I still wouldn't enter it again because it costs £39 to enter. Yes, £39!! There was also a lot of bottle necking around the course, with people starting off too early in their waves and then starting to walk after about 2k. It was definitely a more congested course than 2 years ago, I can only assume they now allow more people to enter to the detriment of the race.
Of course, it all depends what you are running it for and I think that because it's on TV and is so popular, it entices a lot of people to enter, raise money for charity and get into running. It was my first race and if it gets people into running, then that can only be a good thing. It is a great entry-level race as the atmosphere is good with lots of support around the track and it's a good distance that is more of a challenge than a 5k but not as difficult to train for as a half marathon. I would recommend it as a first race for someone, but not to someone aiming for a PB (like me!).
So, with all the bottle necking, terrible heat and boring course, you would expect that I did terribly right? Well, wrong! I got a PB! I finished with an official time of 57 minutes and 48 seconds. 2 whole minutes off my longstanding PB. I kept looking down at my Garmin and being amazed that my legs were managing to move so fast. You can see I slowed down quite a bit on the final mile, I even had to stop at one point because of the heat. (I also forgot to stop my Garmin after I crossed the finish line as I was so desperate to find a drink of water!) It made me wonder what I could do under cooler conditions and on a quieter course...55 minutes one day?! Who knows! But I am so pleased to have finally broken my 2 year old PB.