My plan for Dewsbury was to go out hard and hang on banking on my improved fitness and speed gains from recent training to get me through.
I’m 8 weeks into a block of much more specific speed and general base building training at the moment so I was keen to test myself on a course and distance I last raced a year ago. I felt confident I could improve on my 2015 pb of 36:25 but I wasn’t entirely sure by how much. I hedged my bets and set a couple of goals but at the minimum I wanted to cross the line in 35:xx.
I had a reasonably easy week of easty running of about 50 miles leading into the weekend and felt strong for race day.
I’ve switched my breakfast around a little bit lately as I’ve found my normal bowl of cereal just doesn’t sit well – milk I suppose – even when I’ve eaten a couple of hours in advance. Now I opt for a couple of slices of toast with almond butter and jam which seems to work really well.
Heading to Dewsbury with no need to register (they post out numbers in advance) meant it was just a case of rocking up to the start line in time to warm up and go was nice. No stress or hassle so I did a fairly quick warm up and some dynamic stretches and tucked in about 5 rows back from the front guys.
I know it’s a fast race and around the first corner there’s plenty of space on the closed roads to not need to jockey for position at my pace level and I can stay away from the fast lead out.
My plan was to run a pretty even split over the course as it’s literally 5km down the road, turn around some cones and 5k back. It’s a totally functional race and all set for PB’s and my plan was to simply push hard going out knowing it’s ever so slightly uphill (about 80ft in 5km) and then dig in on the way back.
I knew 5:38 pace would bring me in at 35:00 flat and 5:47 would be 35:56 so my optimistic goal was 5:38/mile but I felt more reasonably I’d end up between those times as I did last year.
Mile 1 – 5:31
Straight from the gun it’s hard to settle into the actual pace you want as there’s a surge of adrenaline and everyone flies around the corner into the race. I did as well but eased back quickly letting quite a few people pass as I was keen to run my own race.
Mile 2 – 5:43
After the surge of adrenaline wore off a bit, I knew I was working hard but I made a big effort to focus on form and staying smooth. There was no wind like last year and after the first mile you tend to find people settle into their race pace. I made a mistake of following someone a bit last year and not checking my watch regularly enough to find that he’d dropped a few seconds behind my goal pace – not happening this time.
Clocked off mile 2 fairly comfortably but definitely working for my time.
Mile 3 – 5:50
There is a slight kick up to the turnaround point which does slow you a little but it’s not much and it was about 2.5 miles when I came up behind a local runner I knew by name/sight and who has run some good times in the last couple of years and I made an effort to pass him and kick on. That was nice. 2 years ago, we wouldn’t have been anywhere near each other.
I think I went through 5k in around 17:40 so the 35 flat target I knew was probably a goal for later in the year.
Mile 4 – 5:40
It’s nice turning for home, there’s a little bit of downhill and although it’s basically flat, there is a slight downhill profile to the finish from here. It’s also at this point where you get friends shouting encouragement as they approach the turnaround too. I truly value that encouragement even if my face is in some sort of horror grimace.
The field at this point starts to thin significantly and there’s not much to chase or hold off as getting to the 5k point at this pace tends to mean the fast runners are already steadily pulling clear and the slower ones are unlikely to dig out a second 5k effort so I think from this point I caught one or two and got passed by about the same from here to the finish.
Mile 5 – 5:39
All about form and staying as smooth as possible from here – the end is coming but there’s a lot of work to do still! It was a bit annoying having the sun in my eyes most of the way back but to be honest the winter has been so shit this year with so much rain it was nice to have a crisp, clear windless morning for racing.
It was about 5.5 miles when a guy from one of the local clubs passed me and while I tried to tuck in behind, he is a level up on my ability so I just had to hold back and admire the ease with which he drifted off for a 34:48 finish.
Mile 6 – 5:53
I was tiring and working very hard now but knew if I held somewhere around this pace I’d finish solidly sub 36 so just focused on that. The last 1.2 miles feel like they stretch for way longer but with the guy a position ahead of me a good 100m in front and not caring one bit about who was behind I just dug in for the last push.
The last .2 – 1:11
As soon as you see the viaduct you can dig in and push to the finish which is around a corner with lots of supporters cheering you over the line so I was able to kick up the pace a little to see the clock ticking towards mid 35 minutes. Couldn’t be happier.
In the end, sub 35 wasn’t to be but I don’t feel it’s out of reach. With only 8 weeks of my new focus on speed this year I’ve run a parkrun pb of 17:10 and now 35:29 for 10k so I think there’s plenty of scope for improvement.
I love Dewsbury 10k. It’s completely unglamorous and functional but it’s well organised and a great PB course. Everyone I know ran a PB this year I think so can’t argue with that!