Preston 10K – The Second Time Round

10K 2019

A year ago, I ran my first 10K event in Preston, with a chip time of 59:08. This year, having run two other 10K events in the meantime, I was especially eager to run this particular event for the second time and see just how far I had progressed. In the intervening year, I’d kept up my running regimen and been going further, and my body was getting used to 10-kilometre runs. Not only that, but two months ago, I’d had a look at the NHS activity guidelines for adults and felt that it would be a good idea to incorporate strength exercises into my routine, so I started following the NHS Strength and Flex programme three times a week. After several weeks, I was managing an average running pace of less than five minutes per kilometre consistently and over longer distances. Based on my training runs, I thought there was a good chance I could do the City of Preston 10K in less than 50 minutes; that became my target.

The event was originally scheduled for 29th September, and in the week leading up to that Sunday, it became increasingly clear that the weather on the day was going to be horrible. Running in the rain wasn’t a pleasant prospect, but I knew from experience that eventually, once you get wet enough, you just don’t care anymore. I’d already signed up, and I was going to do it.

Sure enough, on Sunday morning, it was chucking it down, as it already had been all night and for much of the previous week. I made sure I was well prepared – waterproof jacket on, phone in a plastic bag, towel and dry clothes in the car – and set off. When I arrived and started walking to the start line, a man in running gear passed me in the opposite direction. “It’s been cancelled,” he said.

There is such a thing as too much rain, after all; the route was flooded, with the water apparently ankle-deep in places. Having geared myself up for what was going to be a difficult time, it was quite a disappointment. I bought a Greggs vegan sausage roll to console myself – I’d originally been planning to get one when I finished the run – and went home.

Happily, the event was rescheduled for 20th October, and this time the weather stayed dry. It was admittedly a little chilly, but not so bad as to prevent me wearing a T-shirt and shorts; I wanted to make sure I didn’t get uncomfortably warm as I went.

The route had been changed a bit as some paths were still waterlogged. This meant that for much of the second half, we were going back the way we had come; by the time I was close to the four-kilometre mark, the leaders were already heading in the opposite direction. It also meant looping around sections of the Preston Park Run route in Avenham Park, including some demanding hills.

I was able to maintain the pace I wanted, confirmed by the app on my phone, and it was only on the last hill that I needed to slow to a power-walk. With the finish line in sight, I put on a last burst of speed, and crossed the line with the race clock reading 48:52 – I had done it! Later, I found that my chip time had been 48:25 – I had utterly destroyed my previous time from a year earlier. Damn, it felt good.

I feel very proud of myself for having come so far with my running. It feels like a good reminder that if you do turn something into a habit, and keep at it regularly for long enough, you will get better, even if that’s hard to imagine at the start. I’m currently still trying to turn one of my novel drafts into something publishable, and the main thing holding me back is self-doubt in my own writing ability, but I’m telling myself that surely the same rules apply: just be persistent, and eventually you’ll look back and see how much you’ve improved.

Now, of course, with 10-kilometre runs becoming easier, my goals are shifting. The next step is to gradually increase the distance of my weekend runs, as I definitely want to try a half-marathon next year. A full marathon is the ultimate goal for now; I have no idea when I’ll be able to try that, but I’m certain I will at some point in the future. Listening to the audiobook Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins has been energising me and making me more ambitious, though it’s very unlikely I’ll ever be super-fit enough to try ultra-marathons like him. Still, one never knows.

Thank you to the Running Bee Foundation for organising this great event!

About R.J. Southworth

Hi there. I've been blogging since January 2014, and I like to talk about all sorts of things: book reviews, film reviews, writing, science, history, or sometimes just sharing miscellaneous thoughts. Thanks for visiting my blog, and I hope you find something that interests you!
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