12 October 2023

Bangor 10k, now bronze!

All the way back in 2016 I had run a personal record on the 10k. That was a good year for my running; I had only just set that record during the Caernarfon 10k not long before that, and later I would be first woman in the Parkrun. But the years after that I seem to have flagged a bit. And then lockdown happened! That stopped racing altogether.

When I came out of lockdown and realised I was faster than ever before I was keen to revisit some of these records. So this year was the year I wanted to sharpen my 10k PB. My first attempt at that was, as in 2016, in Caernarfon. And I did manage to shatter the old record, in spite of having been on call-out the night before; that had meant no dinner, and late in bed. Not ideal! So I had hopes for improving it even further in Bangor.

I ended up with a supporter! Normally it is Marjan, but she wasn't feeling well. It was extra fortuitous that I had my date over. He was happy to come along! He had a book with him, so he could just wave me out at the start, wave me back in at the finish, and read the book in a quiet corner in between. I was a bit worried that he might feel bad about not being able to run it himself; the race had sold out quite a while before. But he was okay with that.

I made sure to start not too far from the front. The weaving through slow people can really affect your time if you start too far in the back. And I didn't want to start right at the front because I'm not that fast. And there were many runners; the 10k and the half marathon start at the same time. But things went well.

We went down the High Street and then towards the pier. The kilometres seemed to just fly by. Then we headed for the bicycle path I often commute on. On the pier you make a U-turn; I could therefore see how many women there were in front of me. Not even that many! And at the furthest point, where the 10k runners do another U-turn and head back for the town centre, you can see exactly how many women there are in front of you. 

So few people doing the 10k were ahead of me! A lot of the people I was running behind just kept going. They were clearly doing the half marathon. But I turned around knowing I was in bronze position. Exciting! Now I needed to make sure I stayed there.

The field had spread out quite a lot, so there actually weren't very many people within view either in front of me or behind me. And I just tried to keep my pace up. I was getting tired by this point! But not exhausted. And the encouragements from the other runners and from the spectators was invigorating.

When the finish was in sight I knew I would win bronze. And I approached looking for my date. When I spotted him he also shouted I was going to be bronze. He couldn’t know I already knew. And I thundered over the finish quite satisfied. 

Almost there!

Really there! 

I was quite tired then! But recovered quickly. I told my date he now had to stay until the medal ceremony. He was ok with that. We went back to the finish to cheer other runners on until that time.

When the ceremony came, it was just a question of being called forward, getting congratulated over a fence, and getting the medal and a voucher. A bit underwhelming, but I got a £40 Run Wales voucher so my next race with them is effectively free! 

Chuffed with my medal and voucher

I had run it in 43:33; almost half a minute faster than my previous PB of 43:59. So I know N=1, but I was right to think that I could improve on a personal record that I had set after a night with a callout. And it wasn't as if this course was flatter; it actually had a third more verticality in it (243 ft vs 181 ft).

The previous time I had felt my heart was out of control, but my smartwatch suggested it had been working harder this time. It said I had run 2 miles with a heart rate over 180 (average rate: 173), when in Caernarfon I had never got over 178 (average rate: 155). Not sure how precise these smartwatches are, but it may mean you just feel it differently under different circumstances. I had been 3rd woman out of 88, and 12th person out of 148. Pretty good if you ask me! And, as tends to happen, the women faster than me were quite young: both in the 21-34 years category. I’m chuffed I can outrun so many people at my kind of age! 

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