Worthing 10K & Race Day Disappointment
Before I get in to me, let’s talk about the race. It was sold out way sooner than expected, and it felt very busy at the start and finish lines. I’ve been used to this at some busy half’s I’ve done, but that distance is a little more forgiving if your forced to go out slow.
Apart from the slow start the race was really well organised, volunteers and marshals were great as always. They adjusted to the heat by having cold water mist sprayers out en route! A very welcome addition. I have to say it was super lovely to see my local town packed to the rafters with happy runners.
The route takes you along Worthing seafront promenade, down the main seafront road and out towards Ferring, before turning and coming back along the same route. It truly is a flat and pleasant route, I run sections of it a few times a week at least; which is, I think, what made the whole experience so tough.
I started with my run club guru, Shelley, who was pacing at 55 minutes. Although not an easy pace for me, a speed I’ve been running at regularly for a little while now. The conditions, were hotter than hot. Bearing in mind all my training has been through the winter, I was not prepared for the impact the heat would have on me. I was also stood on the start line with an injury, my IT band, which had been flaring up at about the 4/5 mile mark on most of my runs. It’d been manageable with rest and rolling after my runs, and although sore I hadn’t completely taken it seriously. The final piece of the horrible race puzzle was my two day hangover (sorry mum) from a fun night out with friends on Friday. One of the many life lessons you learn in your 20’s is that the closer you get to 30 the longer your hangovers will last, fact!
As you can imagine I was not holding high hopes for my performance, but I really wanted to race. I’d only gotten a place through a last minute drop out and thought if I could just push my body round hard enough I could have a shiny new medal and PB!
I lost Shelley in the hectic starting line-up, but ran the first 2 miles at a pretty decent 8:40-9 minute mile pace.
My leg was in agony by the 3km marker. At this point the heat was pretty unbearable and I was having some serious negative self-talk; mainly that my leg might actually fall of if I continued. I told myself I’d get to half way and reassess everything. It felt totally ridiculous that I was struggling so much with a 10k when I run this distance 3+ times a week for actual fun! By 5km I’d doused myself in water and was practically dragging my left leg behind me. My mile splits had dropped by almost a minute, I was pretty mean to myself from this point on.
I cannot really express how badly I wanted to stop. The saving grace was that the half-way point is of course the furthest point from the start. Whether I stopped or not I’d still have to get back to that start/finish line. I clawed back a bit of time by pushing myself in bursts of energy. Thing about ITB pain is it tends to be worse when you’re running slower. The thing about deathly hot conditions is it tends to make you slower.
I knew if I got to the promenade the people watching would be enough to ensure I didn’t stop. All hope of time had left me I just wanted to finish, get the medal and have a long and very cold shower!
I saw the time on the clock as the finish line came in to view. It was counting towards an hour, if I could just sprint finish this last section I would come in under that… To salvage my pride and get rid of the demons plaguing my head that morning, I sprinted like hell and crossed the line in 59 minutes.
Race days don’t always go to plan, and you can’t always PB, surely we all know this? But when you start out running every race you ever do is a PB, you get used to that sensation of succeeding and progressing. I hated the feeling that I was regressing.
I wallowed in my own self-pity for longer than I’d care to admit to the world (to some extent I may still be wallowing). I took the afternoon to laze in the summer sun, kayak in the sea, well float around for a bit, and try and bring my head back in check. I can’t say that I’ll ever be happy with the achievements of this past weekend, but I did achieve; I achieved in perseverance and strength, in banishing that pesky inner voice, in the sprint finish, in learning so many new lessons, and relearning some old ones I had clearly forgotten.
The road to becoming a better, and stronger runner is much the same as the road to becoming a better, stronger me. It simply can’t be full of perfect experiences, with perfect timings, and perfect endings. It has to be trial and error, challenge and triumph. You have to have the lows to understand the highs.
And that’s the thing about running, even on my worst day it teaches me everything I need to know, and I fall in love with it a little harder.
Dragging my sweaty mess of a broken body across that finish line, only makes me want one thing, more!