Silverstone 10k

I left work early today at 3.30pm so I could run at the home of British motor racing at Silverstone. Got home just before 5pm with just enough time to get changed into my race kit for the longish drive down. Thankfully the traffic was light and got to the circuit at 6.15pm with an hour and a quarter to the start. The parking was in the middle of the circuit, just behind the team garages.

I decided to have a little warm up as there was plenty of time before the start. I did a complete lap of the circuit (5km) at a very light jog so I could take in the view and soak in the atmosphere (not that there were any spectators). The circuit has been modernised a lot since I last went there about 15 yrs ago, but at the same time it takes more than a lick of paint to rectify things so can understand why Silverstone has been close to being dropped from the F1 calandar several times in recent years.

Going round the lap there were lots of balls of rubber from the tyres (looks like dog s***); literally tens of thousands littering the edge of the circuit plus a fair bit of carbon fibre bits. It was also amazing how wide the track is, must be 10 metres in places which almost makes you feel a bit disorientated when running. The course is flat, just a couple of very very mild undulations here and there. It was a cool evening but very windy - it was predicted to be about 20mph. Going round the lap it was clear that my calf was very sore, although not bad enough to limp round. I also took the risk not to wear any blister plasters and hoped I would not pay for that decision later.

I got to the start on the home straight and found I was standing next to Graham Gristwood (UK Orienteering Champ). Shortly after we set off any idea of taking it easy to protect my calf went straight out of the window and ran hard through the first kilometre in 3.20 (16secs under 36 mins). I then pretty much decided to try and run under 36min pace and see how long I could hold on for (my usual tactic!). The second kilometre I completed in 3.34 (18 secs under 36 mins) and pretty much stayed at the this pace for the next 2km. Between 3-4km the wind was particularly strong and I had to really fight to keep going at the same pace. I think at around 4 km I was around 22 seconds ahead of my target.

By this stage there were three of us running around the same pace so I just tried to tag on as best as possible. I did cheat a little and cut a few corners slightly by running onto the kerbs but I thought that if cars are allowed to then so can I! Between 4-5km the group I was with ran slightly slower for some reason but I made no effort to pull away so I think we reached half way in 17.42 (18 secs ahead of target).

I think the other two runners I was with realised that we had slowed by a few secs over the last kilometre and they decided to increase the pace along the home straight before the start of the second lap. At this stage I was on a fine line from being tired on one hand, but on the other just about capable to keep up with them. Had they not been there I'm sure that I would have slowed down a fair bit. My calf was still sore but felt I could cope with it.

At 6km I think I was back up to 20 secs ahead of target and although I was running in overdrive to keep up with the other two I still felt reasonably comfortable. It was at this stage that my mind began to wonder whether sub 36mins could be possible as I normally feel knackered by this stage. At 7km I had an 18 second advantage and I was beginning to struggle to keep up. I knew the next km would be crucial as this was the part of the lap which involved a small climb but was also where the wind was at its worst. Somehow I managed to catch the couple of metres I had lost from the others and was surprised to find that I had managed to stay around 18 secs ahead of target.

Unfortunately I was really feeling things and lost touch with the others. I think this might have been partly down to me working out how much time I had left to finish under 36 mins, and before I knew it the other two runners had a 5 metre gap which I couldn't catch up. My legs had pretty much gone and it was just a case of holding on as best as I could. I think that at 9km I had an advantage of 12 seconds so had lost 6 secs in the previous kilometre. My legs were heavier and heavier and I was beginning to clock watch - it was the only way to tolerate the pain. I tried to give whatever I could as I knew it would be close whether I would be finishing in under 36mins. Towards the end of the lap I pulled into the pit straight and with about 100 metres to go I tried to increase the pace a little and it was only with 50 metres was I certain of breaking 36 mins. In the end I finished in 35.54 which is a new pb by some 29 seconds. So much for an easy run! The first 5km was done in 17.42 and the last 5km in 18.12.

During the run there was a wheelchair athlete also competing and was interesting how on the flat and downhill he quickly pulled away, but on the hills we would quickly catch him up. After the first lap he had about a 5 sec advantage but pulled away and got at least 200 metres ahead of us but we managed to catch and overtake him at 8km and that was the last we saw of him. An interesting battle none the less!

One of my targets for 2007 was to run sub 36 mins so with that achieved its two down and two to go! I'm now only 54 seconds from getting a UK national ranking! Without the wind I'm sure 35.40 would have been possible but I cant complain too much as the course didn't have any of the stop starts that a lot of road courses have. Overall I came 29th out of 924. What was also pleasing was that I didnt tire as quickly and this is what resulted in my pb. I suspect I was running roughly the same time as my previous 10k pb at the half way mark, but what made the difference was me not tiring until 8km this time and even then still going at a reasonable pace. I think its beginning to show that my training is starting to pay off. I just wonder what time I am capable of if my calf is sorted, with perfect conditions and a bit more extra training.

I'm going to rest my calf for the remainder of the week with plenty of icing and intend to start training again next Monday when I will begin to up the mileage. I have no more races planned during the rest of May.


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