On the morning of Sunday September 11th I found myself obsessively checking National Rail Enquiries. Was the 09:35 train to Lichfield running and was it on time? The 09:35 represented my only chance of making it to the start of the Lichfield 10k. Fortunately, the train was more or less on time for once and I made it to Lichfield with plenty of time to spare.
When I arrived at the HQ of the race – King Edward VI leisure centre – I took a couple of rubbish selfies and left my bag with some of the friendliest race volunteers ever. I then did what all sensible runners do and joined the queue for the portaloos. Although I didn’t really need to go to the toilet at that stage, the queue was short and I didn’t want to risk a repeat of what happened during the Great Midlands Fun Run. I then bumped into Matt who I hadn’t spoken to since the 7 Pools Run, and we spent several minutes discussing our goals for the race.
As we were both aiming for a similar time – anything under 60 minutes would do – we decided to position ourselves half way between the 55 minute and the 60 minute pacers.Photograph: Lichfield Running Club
If you squint really hard you can just about see me. I’m the plonker in the purple top and black cap standing behind the 55 minute pacer. I’d clearly started slightly too far forward.
The gun went off and we headed out of the school grounds onto the A51. The road had been temporarily closed for the race, nothing beats running past dozens of seriously grumpy looking motorists. Although the first few kilometres felt relatively easy, I was aware that I was running at a slightly ambitious pace. Once we escaped the A51 and reached the more scenic section of the course, I finally started to enjoy myself.
Rather unusually for me, I even managed to
grimace smile for the official race photographer who was positioned next to the 4km marker.
I’m pretty sure I’d be a better runner if I actually opened my eyes…
Photograph: Mick Hall Photos
This is my pretending it’s easy race face. Less than five minutes later I was walking.
Photograph: Mick Hall Photos
Although the next section of the course contained the first of several sneaky hills, I managed to complete the first 5 kilometres in a speedy (for me) time of 27:51. I ran through the water station and then spent the next couple of minutes worrying because it had suddenly started to feel quite warm. I started to struggle mentally, slowed to a walk up the most challenging hill on the course, and hit a low point when I found myself looking down at the A38. My race had suddenly fallen apart.
The A38 near Lichfield – not the most scenic part of the course and the location of my mid-race meltdown.
Photograph: Google Maps
The final four kilometres were not very enjoyable and I paid the price for setting out at a ridiculous pace. I walked a couple of times and distracted myself by trying to work out if I could still finish in under an hour. I made the most of the downhill sections – sorry knee – and told myself that if I didn’t finish in under an hour I would have to throw away my trainers.
Although I reached the start of the final kilometre in approximately 53 minutes and theoretically had plenty of time to reach the finish, I encountered a problem. Pavement congestion and a lack of overtaking opportunities. The main road had been reopened and as a result we were banished to the (very narrow) pavement. Running in the main road wasn’t an option and I found myself caught up in a couple of bottlenecks. After what felt like hours we turned towards the finish line which had rather unkindly been positioned at the top of a slightly muddy incline.
It’s always good to end a race with an enjoyable hill!
The official clock read 0:59:5x when I ‘sprinted’ across the finish line. I’d just about finished in under an hour.
I was handed a bottle of water and a medal and spent a couple minutes chilling out and analysing my disastrous attempt at pacing a 10k. I rescued my bag from the friendly volunteers and collected my race t-shirt. When I entered the race I’d selected ‘large’ was I wasn’t sure if there would be male/female sized t-shirts. The t-shirts were unisex and I was the proud owner of a fluorescent yellow running tent. Incidentally, I’ve already worn the t-shirt on a couple of early morning runs. I do love useful race souvenirs.
I’m not sure why the t-shirt looks green in this photo, it’s definitely yellow!
Once I collected my t-shirt I decided it was time to escape the rather airless leisure centre and headed back out into the sunshine. I bumped into Craig and asked him to take a photo of me posing with the latest addition to my medal collection. Thanks Craig!
I then thanked the race director and headed across to the Brooks Run Signature Tour trailer. Unfortunately, even though I had an appointment, this was as close as I got!
It looked pretty cool from the distance and I loved the red sports bra I was standing next to when I took my grumpy selfie.
The official race photos were published online two days after the race, and thanks to the event organiser, digital downloads were free. More races definitely could and should do the same!
I’m always happy to support really well organised events and injury permitting I’ll be looking to add to my collection of Lichfield 10k t-shirts in 2017.
- Cost: 8/10 (£17 as an affiliated runner)
- Course: 6/10
- Medal: 9/10
- Goody Bag: n/a (9/10 for the technical race t-shirt)