I didn’t really have any expectations of a fast time this year, boy was I wrong!
Dewsbury 10k is one of my favourite races, this time was my 3rd time running and having set my 10k pb back in 2016 (35:29) I didn’t think I was in much danger of topping that one because I’ve done absolutely no speed training for a long time beyond a parkrun every couple of weeks.
I did however feel strong, the result of a bump in mileage for the couple of months before Christmas and some genuine consistency in my training going from around 50 to more like 60-70 miles a week so who knows.
It’s not often I race 10k and with Dewsbury’s flat 5k out/5k back route and fast field I tucked in several rows back from the front with a goal of going out at around 17:30 to halfway then anticipated a grim suffer-fest for the second half and just seeing how long I could hold that pace for to the end and perhaps get in somewhere around 36 flat.
There’s always a bit of a stampede at the start of a race this size (1200+) and staying out of trouble for the first 200m is a good idea and once past that I settled into a comfortable 5:40ish pace although to be honest with my low expectations of a pb in this race I actually didn’t look at my watch that much and focused more on the level of effort and keeping an eye on those around me as I recognised several runners and knew roughly what they’d be running so figured I’d tuck in and make sure to try and avoid surges of pace early on which always wear me down quickly.
The first half of the race has a very slight incline from perhaps 4500-5000m as you get to the turnaround point and I hit that in about 17:40 although to be honest I didn’t really notice the time that much – more that I was feeling good. Way better than I had halfway through my last race here. Perhaps the mileage increase in training was working.
The second half of the race sees you running back down the opposite side of the road and conditions were perfect, just above freezing and not a breath of wind – last time there was a bit of a headwind coming back which definitely didn’t help but with the nominal uphill done and dusted it’s a relatively nice cruise back to the finish if you’re able to keep your legs turning over and when I finally noted that I was still reasonably close to one of the local guys I know (who’s a fair bit faster than me) at 6km I figured I must be moving well and the 5:20 pace still felt OK at this point.
Time to gamble – Miles 4 and 5 ticked by in low 5:20 pace and while the effort was definitely beginning to tell on my form and rapidly tiring legs I knew another 6 or so minutes would give me a good shout at an unexpected pb and at this point I was more than willing to blow up trying now it had gone better than anticipated so I dug in and closed in fast on the leading lady Charlene Thomas – although it turns out she was struggling with a pulled calf, she still won.
Heading into the last mile the brain starts trying to do calculation on the fly and I knew if I could hold it together I’d not only be close to a pb but also potentially cover the second half in somewhere like 17 flat which is pretty close to my 5k best too so cue full Forrest Gump mode, slobber flying out my mouth, legs and arms doing whatever possible to get to the train bridge in the distance that signifies the final turn to the finish and rounding that corner with 20m to go and seeing the clock still only saying low 34:xx I could barely contain my smile crossing the line in 34:35 (chip time 34:27) for 28th place and 5th Male Vet 40 of more than 1200 runners.
My two longstanding running goals have now been achieved (sub 17 5k and sub 35 10k) and I feel energised and some of the missing mojo I’ve had since Christmas is well and truly banished! Seems that running with less pressure and that base of months of higher and more consistent mileage have helped massively. I feel there’s potentially more I can do at both 5 and 10k if I can focus a little more on bringing the quality speed sessions into my week but for now my focus is on my next two races which involve running up and down a hill for 6 hours and then running up a mountain for 8 so quite the switch in focus!