Sunday morning saw me running in the Barnsley 10K - my first attempt at this race, and only my 3rd 10K this year.
The day started cool, but dry and clear - excellent running weather, and I made it to Royston (just north of Barnsley with an hour to spare, giving me plenty of time to have a warm-up, change running tops twice(!) and do those other important pre-race niceties
The start was at Royston School, and there was a very nice "Start" banner over the school gates, so it was obvious where the start was. Except that it wasn't - that was the gathering point, and the real start was 50yds down the main road. A little confusing, I have to say, but I stayed near the front of the field, so it didn't cause me any issues.
We had a minute's silence for Remembrance Day just before the start at 10:30am and then stepped out en-masse to block the main road.
There was no starting gun as such, just a guy shouting "ready, steady,... go!" (yes, really!!). As I was near to the front, I heard him clearly, but apparently people further back didn't know the race had started - well, presumably until the people in front of them started running, anyway.
The first mile or so took us through along the main road, off round a couple of back streets and then back onto the main road again - presumably to make up a bit of distance that couldn't be made up elsewhere on the course. Then, it was a bit of an uphill drag past a coking plant, which wasn't the most pleasant experience, either for breathing or viewing, before we were out into glorious open countryside.
I have to confess that before the second mile marker came up, I felt ready to quit. My legs felt heavy and energyless and I was having trouble getting enough oxygen into my lungs (although that could have been the effects of the coking plant!). However, when I checked my watch at the 2-mile point, I was on schedule for a 40-minute run, so I realised that even though I was suffering, I was keeping up a good pace (even up-hill).
The next two miles were very gently undulating with a mix of gentle slopes up and down through the rolling Yorkshire countryside. Marshalling was excellent, with marshalls holding back traffic at every side road to allow us to go through. Normally this is done by the police, but I have to say that the race marshalls seemed very effective at it.
I'd read somewhere that there was a bit of a hill between the 4th and 5th mile. This was probably an understatement as it seemed that it was actually uphill for the whole mile!! I really suffered going up it, and although I was off the target pace a little, I still managed that mile in under 7 minutes.
When you hit mile 5, there's a psychological release: only a mile left! I have to say that I was very glad there was only a mile left as I was at the limits of my aerobic capacity (well, perhaps a little into anaerobic if the truth be known). Unfortunately, there's a sting in the tail in this race, and that is the uphill section at around 5.5miles. It can't have been more than 400yds, but it felt much longer coming so late into the race!
The last half mile was pretty much flat, and the finish was down a narrow path just outside the school. Unfortunately, there wasn't a finish banner (or at least I didn't see one), so it wasn't clear quite where we were finishing. A minor niggle for me as I wasn't in a big crowd of people vying for places.
I finished the race 72nd out of 671, with a personal best of 40:43. Although I still didn't beat my goal of 40 minutes, at least I managed a personal best on an undulating course. So I think I'm perhaps slightly fitter than I was when I ran 40:46 in March this year on a flatter course, which is pleasing.
Overall, I found it a tough race mentally, which is something I'll have to work on, but it was pretty well organised overall and the other runners I chatted with were a friendly bunch.
Next race is the Clowne Half Marathon in just under two weeks time. I believe this race is a little hilly, so my plan is to run it for experience and try to enjoy, rather than suffer the run. My target is to come in at around 1hr 35m. If I can beat that, well that's excellent. If not - so what ?