Icy blast, torrential rain, no visibility – was this some wild adventure on remotest moorland and hills? No, this was bank holiday Sunday in Sunderland. Maybe I am exaggerating. Considering all the lovely weather we have had recently this was the worst for some time. Wet, cold and limited visibility. Just for a limited time only – as I type this 5 hours later the sky is blue, the wind has dropped and all is well again (and the garden has been watered). Fortunately there was no chance of going off course. I feel sorry for the organisers and exceedingly grateful for the crowds and marshals who turned out – pointing us around the course and offering words of encouragement. I think the original plan was for some happy clappy warm up at the start – either I missed it or it did not happen as everyone seemed to be huddled within the mighty stadium of light until the last possible minute. I did venture out briefly into the rain to see the start of the 10k – who came to a bottleneck halt after 100 metres due to “water in the road” – a big puddle. Mental note miss that bit – get near the front.
Before waking on Sunday morning I had been hoping for an improvement on my last half at Redcar 18 months ago. I had done some training and a couple of 10K races in the last two weeks. I even resisted the temptation of a parkrun on Saturday so my legs could be as fresh as possible. I was hopeful and feeling quite fit. The aim was to be between 1.30 and 1.35 and as close to 1.30 as possible. Can I get under 1.30 again or is that just a dream too far? – A bit like I’m trying for a sub 20 minute Durham parkrun.
The course sets off from the stadium of light, over the Monkwearmouth bridge and does a couple of slightly convoluted loops around mainly residential streets before crossing the bridge again and out along past St Peter’s, the sea front, Roker park and back. Pavement corners were potentially a bit tricky, so I kept on the tarmac. Due to the climactic conditions visibility for those in glasses was to say the least –poor. It was like looking through a misted car windscreen in the rain when the wipers don’t work – photo obviously not taken on route but gives an idea to those of you without glasses what I was seeing – or not.
We crossed the bridge for the first time as the 10K was coming the other way, and around our 10K the course doubles back on itself. I was able to see Jane coming the other way and we gave each other a cheer. (By the time we passed again when I had just over a mile to go I waved but was unable to cheer.) I also saw Ian and we acknowledged each other. By the time I reached the bridge again I was still feeling fair but knew the sub 1.30 was not realistic. Undulations (relatively minor) and wind taking those vital seconds away. Along to Roker I saw the leaders coming the other way – good to see what happens at the front of a race. As we came around to the sea front all I could think of was “British Bank Holiday”! There was low cloud/grey mist, white horses and breakers on the sea and a biting wind. Returning on the same bit of road after Roker Park I knew my pace had dropped again (quite a strong wind against at this point) but I had been working hard and once we turned the corner I was able to regain some pace. I lost a handful of places in the final run in.
However all was good – 3 minutes quicker than Redcar! A top 100 finish, a medal, a dayglo yellow tee shirt (to replace the fluorescent orange Darlington 10K from 2013 that my wife was not willing to give house room to it is so bright that I discarded at the start), a not so quick change into dry clothing with cold hands and into the coffee shop. Can I realize my aspirations – I will have to enter another – hopefully to be run in conditions more conducive to another PB. Tantalizingly close, yet so far.
Well done to everyone who was out – runners, spectators, organisers – in what were quite frankly not very pleasant conditions for a May road 10K.
|1||Tadele Mulugeta||Elswick Harriers||M||1||1:11:24|
|63||Louise Rogers||Tyne Bridge Harriers||F40||1||1:28:41|