For the first time in 5 months, I finally got to put my racing shoes on and pin a number to my top, and gosh it felt good! Going into the event I felt pretty relaxed, I didn’t believe that I was actually going to be putting all the hard work from lockdown to the test. However, once I arrived at the race, the nerves started to kick in and it all became a little bit more real.
How things had changed.
One of the things I was most unsure about was how racing might have changed due to Covid. Prior to race day, we had been allocated into a ‘wave’ of at most 10 people. Each wave was set off in 5 minute intervals in order to avoid having too many people in one part of the course at one time. The waves were seeded depending on athletes predicted times and PB’s. There were 3 elite races for men and women, splitting the usual fields up quite a bit.
I’m used to getting to races with hours to spare, however, people were advised not to get there too early. We were also told not to collect our race number until 20 minutes before our race and to only be in the waiting area 5-10 minutes before our race start time, so the waiting was massively reduced (no bad thing!).
On the start line, the nerves were pretty high. I sort of felt like I had never raced before, and I had absolutely no idea what to expect, but I knew I just wanted to get going. I had seen that nearly all the girls had already raced, so they knew what to expect, but I had no idea. Racing seemed like such a world ago, I definitely had become rusty! I must say, it also felt very weird lining up with only 8 other girls (one girl dropped out of the race).
Leading up to the race I had reminded myself that it would be painful. Whilst training is tough, you can never replicate or reach the level you go to in racing. You can set yourself up for it and then dig as deep as you can in the race. I won’t lie, it did feel like a big shock to the system and I think I went out pretty hard, but it felt so good to feel that race pain again. The k’s seemed to pass by very quickly and once I got into the rhythm of the race, it didn’t seem so bizarre.
How did it go?
If I’m being picky, it wasn’t quite what I was after time wise, but in the company of Storm Ellen, realistically, it was more than I could’ve hoped for. I went into the race with a track PB of 16:24 and a road PB of 17:30 (set in 2017) and I came out with a road PB of 16:19, so I can’t complain.
Reflecting on the race, I am actually really proud of my performance. To have beaten my track personal best in my first race back, incredibly tough conditions and with the last 1.5k being uphill for the majority, I think I should be proud. Somebody told me a while ago, when a session didn’t go as I hoped, that I should always consider the factors and put it into perspective, rather than focus on one thing (the time). I think, when I consider the factors, that the time was more than I could’ve hoped for, and it’s not just about the time. Racing is about ignoring the clock at times and pushing yourself against your competitors and yourself. It is about putting all that hard work in training to play.
So, whilst we can become slaves to paces and to our watches, it is important to just throw paces out the window and focus on giving it our all effort some of the time. The pace on our watch isn’t the be all and end all.
I love to run and I love to write, so I write about running!