Wheaton Aston 10k

In what is starting to become a tradition I entered the Wheaton Aston 10k a few weeks ago.  Last year I came 9th in 35.25 but I knew my fitness has improved considerably since then, so much so that I was expecting to beat my current 10k pb of 33.58 by some margin.  I was hoping for sub 33, but in all honesty anything in the range of 33.00 - 33.15 would have been more than satisfactory.

At the start I was initially around 8th but quickly pulled into the last of a group of three with the leader stretching off into the distance.  After about 500m the two in the group just ahead of me settled down into a slightly slower pace so I was now second and after the first km I was about 6 seconds adrift.

In 4th about 400 metres into the race.  Courtesy of racephotos.org.uk
Note the black hat - it was barely above freezing and very icy on the roads.

Moving out of the village I was still losing ground but not as slowly and between the 1st and 2nd km the gap got to about 8 seconds before I started to close a little.  This wasn't due to me running faster but simply down to taking a direct route whilst the leader tended to stay on the left of the road.

The 3rd km involved a gradual downhill section with some more sharp bends.  By now I was gradually catching the leader anyway, but was again further compounded by taking a tighter line.  At about 3.5km I drew level but didn't hold up for a breather.  We ran together for a further 500m or so but he then fell behind and I was now on my own.  As I went through 4km my splits were all pretty solid - 3.12, 3.16, 3.12, 3.15 so whilst I guessed it suggested I was running 32.30 pace, if anything I was more thinking along the lines that 33mins was achievable as I presumed I wouldn't be able to hold this kind of pace.

The 5th km was a gradual 20 metre incline and again being strong on the hills my gap continued to grow, although was nowhere near a race winning margin.  At the half way point I felt fairly good to be honest, far from comfortable, but not in the red zone either.

The next couple of km were a bit more up and down and by this point I was starting to think sub 33 minutes was a distinct possibility - something like 32.45 or similar.  Could I keep on going?  As I passed the 7km point I was now starting to feel like I was entering the red zone.  I had a quick look back and sensed my lead was around 20 seconds or so.  Again not yet a race winning margin - could I hold on?

The 8th km was downhill a few metres and I did it in 3.07, not sure how to be honest as I was starting to feel pretty knackered.  Again a quick look back determined that I hadn't lost any time and if anything my lead was now 25 seconds or so.  I now knew the race was more or less won.  Perhaps for this very reason I was starting to mentally switch off a bit, with the final two km completed in 3.17 and 3.19.  I'm sure that if I really had to defend I could probably have found a further 10 seconds or so.  If there was only 1 criticism I had regarding my race, this was it - I could have pushed had I really needed to but chose not to.  That said with about 300 metres to go I looked at my watch and thought wow - sub 32.30 could be on.  I put on a little extra effort to ensure I crossed the line in 32.22!  In the end I won by about 25 seconds.

Not far from the finish

Coming into the finish

I'm completely amazed at a) winning the race as the times in previous years have been pretty fast b) smashing my PB by over a minute and a half and c) running sub 32.30 which I didn't think was anywhere near being doable.

My splits show that I ran a pretty even race.  Most of the variation is due to the topography although there was a slight slowing by a few seconds in the final 2km.

I believe that for coming first I won £50 which will be posted out to me.  Next race will be the Captain Cook's Fell Race on New Years Day.


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