Sunday, 3 October 2010

Loch Ness Special

The Loch Ness Marathon was the culmination of another 3 months work for me and Lynsey. Early runs, late runs, long runs, expensive trainers, injuries, exhaustion, all for one day. We really made a weekend of this one though. Lynsey booked us a luxury Loch Ness lodge and we rallied the troops. Yet again our support answered the call and joined us in the lodge. I guess you could get away with advertising the accommodation as a Loch Ness lodge just by having it in the vicinity of Loch Ness, but this was right on the banks with panoramic views. The backdrop was breathtaking and I think I could have quite happily lived there forever. The lodge facilities inside matched the views, with luxury baths and showers, Turkish steam rooms and a hot tub on the balcony. I think this is what the Commonwealth athletes in Delhi could have done with! The prospect of drinking champagne in the hot tub on Sunday evening helped me and Lynsey get through the race! Lynsey, Ben and I arrived at the lodge late on Friday evening which gave us a chance to relax and acclimatise to the fresh Highland air.

View of Loch Ness from our lodge

The above photos were leaked to the 'Inverness Courier' showing the horrendous conditions endured by the athletes

Originally I aimed to finish this race in under 2 hours, 45 mins but the more I learned about the course and the closer I got to the day I realised that this might be a bit ambitious and my first aim should be to get a PB, and hopefully at least under 2:50. To add to the hills, I also picked up an injury 2 weeks before the race. I have been feeling pain in my lower left leg, on the outside of my shin whenever I run. It hasn’t stopped me from running but it does hurt and probably affects my mobility.  That said, I was still going to be gutted with anything over 2:50.

The Course

The Loch Ness course was quite stunning and I find it hard to believe there is a more beautiful setting for a race. The route starts between Fort Augustus and Foyers, drops to the banks of Loch Ness, goes right along the eastern side of the loch and then into the centre of Inverness, finishing in Bught Park.  

Not me, but check out the course backdrop

On Saturday morning we went out for a short run to loosen up. It was really beautiful and the sun was shining down on us and reflecting off the loch. We had been out for less than a minute when we spotted what we thought was one of the mile markers for the race! It turned out that the lodge was almost right on the course! Mile 7 to be exact. This meant not only that we had a fairly easy journey to the start on Sunday morning but that our supporters would have prime views with a short walk from the lodge! Stroke of genius Lynsey! Leanne, Christa and Lyle arrived on Saturday evening to boost the support and the girls prepared us a lovely carb-filled meal.
Carb-loading in the lodge
We woke early on Sunday and made our final preparations, mainly forcing down some food. The combination of an early rise and nerves makes it difficult to stomach even a bit of toast.  The ever present Ben then drove us to the start of the race which was around 7 miles away. We were in the middle of nowhere. We were also the first runners there as most people would be coming on chartered buses from Inverness. It was nice not to have to get on a bus but we now had over an hour and a half to wait until the race start and the rain was starting to fall. We chatted with Bryan Burnett the race MC and a few other runners who had turned up early and got cups of tea to keep us warm. Oh and I checked my facebook and came across a few good luck messages which put a smile on my face! Then the masses arrived and I really started to get nervous. Lynsey and I said our good lucks and got into our positions. Bagpipers marched down to the start which was quite powerful in those surroundings. The conditions for a marathon were perfect. It was around 14/15 degrees and there was plenty of drizzle.

Miles 1-7

And they're off....

The race started on a wee bit of a hill, downhill is this instance fortunately. This allowed me to get a really good start which makes a massive difference psychologically. I passed a lot of other runners and was feeling good. Runners are often advised to go steady for the first half a race and wait until the 2nd half to  speed up but this isn’t a tactic that sits well with me. I prefer to go out hard and hang on at the end!  I managed to do the first mile in 5 mins and 20 secs which is faster than my 10K pace! I knew that it wouldn't be long until a hill turned up and slowed my progress but I was flying. 

If you click on this you can just about make Irn-Bru out on the left
It was fairly downhill until about mile 5 when we hit an almighty incline. This really wore me out and I started fearing for what else was to come in the remaining 21 miles. I was really out of breath by the time I got to the top but at least I’d made it. For the next couple of miles I tried to get back into my stride. Looking at my watch I was still around 3 minutes ahead of my target pace at this point so I all was rosy. I was already running on my own as well and couldn’t see anyone in front of me or behind me most of the time. I was getting closer to mile 7 where I was hoping to  spot our supporters just up from the lodge. I was actually slightly worried that they might miss me as I’d went out so fast! It later transpired that they’d got there in the nick of time with only a minute to spare. I heard them before I saw them. I can’t remember what they all shouted but they made some amount of noise (I think Leanne was the loudest) and then I shouted a lot of rubbish back! Inlcuding a few expletives. After that I couldn’t help thinking that it was gonna be another 20 miles before I saw them all again, that’s a lot of running!
Coming into view of my supporters
Too fast for the camera....
It turned out that Lynsey wasn’t far behind me. Here are some pics of her also flying down the hill! Ben, Christa, Leanne and Lyle then setup a Haribo station and blasted tunes from the car to provide support to the rest of the runners. I also remember running past a farmer who had setup big amps at his gate and was blasting out some Scottish tunes and shouting support – fantastic! You’d have thought that the support for a marathon along Loch Ness would be quite sparse, and it was but when we did get it it was excellent.

Lynz flying down the hill
Miles 8-16

I’m not sure exactly what mile it was, but I heard footsteps behind me. It was a guy and the Ethiopian female runner who I’d taken over earlier. I was to remain with this small  group all the way until mile 23! Dinknesh Mekash Tefera went on to win the woman’s race. She looked quite serene, and I couldn’t even hear her breathing. It looked quite effortless for her. I got chatting to the guy who was from Holland. He was aiming for 2:50 and we both agreed that we were going a lot faster than this pace but the three of us seemed fairly comfortable. We took turns to lead our little pack which kept me focused. None of us made a significant break at any point. It was almost felt like we were in the leading pack, it’s always a lot more interesting when you’re actually in with a chance of winning and part of a tactical battle. This wasn’t the case today but we were helping each other along and it would have been a lot harder had I been on my own. There’s not really a lot more to say about this section of the race, we battled on together at a decent pace fluctuating between 6 and 6:30 minute miles depending on how many hills there were! I was surprised at how comfortable and composed I was at this stage and my mind started drifting to Edinburgh and how long it took for me to start falling apart!

Miles 20-Finish

When we got to mile 20 I had two thoughts. The first was positive: there’s only 10K to go and I run at least 10K everyday without even thinking about it. My second thought was more negative: I’d just run 20 miles and I knew it wouldn’t be long until my body started really suffering. As I do in every race I started questioning if I’d able to finish. I managed to keep my pace up until mile 23 when things really started slowing down. My knees started seizing up a bit and it seemed like the onset of cramp. This panicked me a bit but this had happened at the exact same stage in Edinburgh. It eased off a bit but I had lost the Dutch guy and Ethiopian woman. I was now approaching Inverness on my own. Then I looked up and bearing in front of me was what at the time looked more like a mountain that a hill. The incline was ridiculous and not what I wanted at this stage of the race. It was getting really tough. It was at least flat now but my legs were failing and my energy reserves were dwindling. 
The next 3 miles felt like 10. At least there was support along the streets of Inverness. I battled along, trying to hold back the tears (and failing) as the pain started to really take hold. Then I heard a shout of “C’mon Jamie, you’re in the top 20 at least”. It was Lynsey’s mum, and her dad was positioning himself for a photo. This of course gave me a boost and by this stage I could also hear the muffled sounds of a microphone meaning I couldn’t be too far from the finish in Bught Park. I got another shout from a guy which really lifted my spirits “C’mon, don’t worry, won’t be long until you’ve got a hot cup of tea in your hands!” Fantastic! I’d say it’s during the last 3 miles that the support is most vital, you need anything to keep you going. Even although you’re so close to the finish, you still feel like you’re going to need to drop out. I eventually got to the River Ness but the finish was on the other side of the river so we had to run along to the top and then back again. At least the finish was in sight though. By that stage my priority was to put one leg in front of the other. Then I reached the finishing straight and managed to start a sprint finish. I could also hear Bryan Burnett, the MC, say “This was one of the first people on site this morning, he’s one of our first finishers as well”. It wasn't until now that I looked at the clock, which was at 2:47 and approaching 2:48. I crossed the finish line in 2:47:51, screamed a few “YEEEEES” “YEEEEEES” “YEEEEEES” (you may be able to view the video of this by clicking here) and then struggled to stay on my feet. I had to lean on the railings to keep myself up. A lady then walked me along to collect my medal and goody bag. Relief. I was ecstatic with my time and beating my PB by over 12 minutes.

Train wreck helped by Lyle and Ben
Happy with Christa and Leanne
Proudly posing with my medal on the River Ness
Then I was reunited with my friends who had supported me so well over the weekend. As you can see it was quite an emotional moment for me and I was quite overwhelmed. It's no wonder considering what I'd just put my body through that day and the amount of time and effort I have dedicated to getting to that point over the last few months. I was also so relieved to have done myself justice with my time.

Lynz flying!
Meanwhile, back on the course, Lynsey was ripping it up. We got into position to cheer her on with a couple of miles to go. We couldn’t believe how soon she came into view! Lynsey’s PB was 3 hours 56 and because Loch Ness was quite a challenging course I must admit I wasn’t expecting to see her until around the 4 hour mark. But when I looked at my watch when she passed us it was clear she was going to absolutely smash her PB! She looked so comfortable and fresh as well, unlike me. Because of the layout of the course we were able to see her again by crossing the bridge so she got a fantastic support on the last mile as well. She crossed the finish line in an unbelievable time of 3:42:30 wiping over 13 minutes off her PB and coming 21st in the female open category! It is safe to say it was a highly successful day all round. To put Lynsey’s time into perspective, it actually qualifies her for an automatic place in the London Marathon in the ‘Good for Age’ category, which is how I qualified with my Edinburgh time. You can find the qualifying times here.

Lynsey and Ben

The gang with Nessie

We collected Lynsey and we both revelled in our glory with Nessie! We then headed to the pub for some well deserved beverages and a post race analysis. The pint of Tennent’s was probably ill advised as it wasn’t long before I started to feel sick. My body had been punished enough. Thanks to Lyle in particular for looking after me at this low point. After realising that Lynz had qualified for the London Marathon with her time we headed back to the lodge for some food and relaxation. And then later on, we fired up the highly anticipated hot tub and popped a couple of bottles of champagne! I instantly felt better.

Hot Tub Time Machine?
I've now had a whole week off any sort of running and I’m not quite sure what to do with myself. The next big target is London in April so I have started planning out my training. I will be competing in other 10K and half marathon races in the build up to this so please keep following the blog! A big thank you to everyone who has supported me this year, in person, by text, by facebook and by following my blog, it really does keep me sane! Well relatively sane. And thanks to my mum and dad who have helped me when I've needed a new pair of trainers among other things! Thanks also to Leanne, Christa, Lyle and Ben for providing the excellent race photography which has allowed me to create such a detailed blog entry, but more importantly for carrying me and Lynsey through the weekend. Having people to make your meals, carry your bags and encourage you is priceless, and we've had that for Edinburgh, Glasgow and Loch Ness in one year. And to Voogy, great performance in the hot tub.

And finally another massive well done to Lynsey Rainnie who put in an inspirational peformance and continues to inspire and support me in my efforts.


Time: 2:47:51 (PB)
Position: 19th/2489

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Glasgow’s 13.1 Miles Better

I'm 3 weeks late with this report but better late than never. Remember, you can view bigger/higher res verisions of all the photos by clicking on them. Since the Edinburgh Marathon in May, the two big races that I’ve been building up to are the Loch Ness Marathon in October and the Great Scottish Run. The GSR is an annual half marathon set in Glasgow, which gave it added importance for me. I also knew that plenty of the support crew would be able to come and cheer on me and Lynsey and that other friends in Glasgow might spot me as well. I was really looking forward to lining up in George Square and running through the heart of the city and some of its great parks, but I also felt under pressure to perform, being the largest mass participation sporting event in Scotland!

Nailing my target! *Official chip time 1.17.08

Having managed to finish a 10 mile race in 58:25 in July, my target for the half marathon was around 1 hour, 17 mins. My PB was only 1:22 though and it's a big ask to shave 5 minutes off a half marathon PB set as recently as March. However, I see no point in setting targets I know I can beat.

I had ideal preparation for the race as I was able to stay at my friend Stephen's flat near Sauchiehall Street, within walking distance of the race start in George Square. This made things a lot easier for me as I didn’t have to worry so much about how I was going to get to the race - once I’d got to Glasgow from London that is! On Sunday morning we had breakfast and headed down to meet my running buddy Lynsey and her boyfriend Ben. We then took our positions in George Square and waited patiently and anxiously for the starter’s gun. I always hate the hanging around before a race and just want to get started.

George Square/St. Vincent Street throbbing, it's like Sauchiehall St!
Finally it sounded and thousands off runners enthusiastically began their 13.1 mile journey to Glasgow Green. As usual I shot off quite quickly which just can't be helped with the adrenalin pumping through your body. I did the first two miles in only 5:40 mins each which is closer to my 10K pace than half marathon. However, I soon settled to closer to 5:50 which was a more realistic average pace. I was feeling OK in terms of energy but my calves were beginning to kill me already and I was questioning my choice of trainers - I was wearing my flatter ones seeing as this was a race but I haven't worn them for this distance before. I battled on.

Click for full route, which took in Bellahouston Park and Pollok Park

The support from spectators on the streets was absolutely tremendous,  just as I expected it would be in Glasgow. I even had an old friend from Glasgow shout out of the window of her top floor flat at me which was unexpected and amusing! And another as he was just walking along the street! Little moments like these always give you a big boost. There was the added bonus of bagpipers dotted around the course which never fails to uplift and inspire. I even got high fives from a couple of neds on Paisley Road West, so I really got the full Glasgow experience! For much of the race I was running alongside another runner wearing the purple vest of the Bellahouston Road Runners running club. So there were many shouts of “’Mon the Bella!” and “Go Irn-Bru man!” along the course. I can't emphasise enough how much of a difference the support makes. I also think people cheering on others who they don't even know is a great example of human nature. I get quite emotional during my races as you can probably tell!

Looking good!

I actually began to feel quite comfortable at the 10 mile mark, although it helps when you know there are only 3 miles to go! Sometimes you just get a second wind though and by the final 2 miles I was flying again just like I was at the start. I left the Bellahouston Road Runner I had been following for dead - eat my dust Bella! Then I came into Glasgow Green. I hit a straight which I assumed was the finishing straight but it turned out there was still another turn to go. When I finally got onto the final straight I went up another gear but I didn’t really hit the booster button until I spotted my mates Steve and Steve. You can actually see this exact glorious moment in the below photo! I swear this made me go faster and shaved quite a few seconds off my final time - it was all sprint from there on in!

Gaun yersel wee man!

The final straight was quite heavily lined with spectators on both sides and the noise seemed quite deafening at the time. In fact, after the race I learned that quite a few of my friends and also my dad and cousins had been cheering me on but a combination of being in the zone and the sheer noise around me made me oblivious to this at the time. Finally I was finished and was hit with a number of emotions, but mainly relief. Relief that it was all over but also relief that I’d done myself justice and put in a fantastic performance. In fact it is my best running performance to date and my progress continues.

Photo taken by my dad on the finishing straight

Immediately After the race I was greeted by my cousins Helen and Lorelle. Helen led me to my dad who I hadn't even know was there! A photo he took is below:

It's family affair: Helen, Lorelle and I

In stark contrast to Edinburgh, I felt quite fresh after the race and wished I’d started my sprint finish a little earlier! The trickiest task of the day turned out trying to find the rest of my support team among the thousands, but eventually we were reunited after a few announcements over the tannoy. Another friend, Rebecca, who had done the 10K race in the morning, works for the Bank of Scotland who sponsor the event and had a marquee set up. Here Rebecca introduced me to the lovely Eve Muirhead, the champion Scottish curler. This was rather embarrassing but a good moment all the same and she did seem genuinely impressed with my time. According to my friend Voogy, she has a very good golf handicap and if you believe Wiki, an accomplished bagpiper!

Me and Eve Muirhead

After all of that excitement we headed to the city centre for some well earned scran and an alcoholic beverage or two! A very successful and pleasant day all round.

Cheers Glasgow, and brace yourself Nessie!

Time: 1:17:08
Position: 41st/8961

Sunday, 15 August 2010

1st August: SUB 35 10K!!!

Having posted a time of 35:25 in the Battersea Park 10K a few weeks previously I knew I had a great chance of achieving my long term goal of going under 35 minutes and I was hungry to do it as soon as possible. My chosen race to give it a crack was set in Old Deer Park in Richmond. Richmond is quite a leafy well-to-do area of South West London and quite close to where I live in less well-to-do Brixton. I knew it would be a flat course giving me every chance of a fast time. I even got to meet my marathon hero Darren Tanner again who had also entered! Unfortunately he’s been nursing an Achilles’ injury so wasn’t in the same shape as he was when he won a 10K in just over 35 mins recently.

Fernando! Darren!

Judging by previous years’ results I even thought I had a chance of a top 3 finish for which there were cash prizes up for grabs. That was until I spotted Fernando, the man who thrashed me in the last race in Battersea Park line up at the start. There were a few serious looking competitors so I was beginning to wonder. Anyway, to  the race….. It was a very quick start and there was no way I was going to follow the pace of the first three. Fernando (the man who won Battersea Park) shot away quickly as I expected and I was happy to settle into the 5th/6th place. This was ok considering there was a field of over 550!

The route started on the grass of the park, then was mainly run on road, until we came to the Thames where we went onto some loose stones which was a bit tougher. I was really giving everything I had to get my elusive sub-35 but I was finding it tough. By the last 2Ks I was really struggling to maintain the 3:30/km pace that was required. My GPS watch also tells me my average pace over the race and it was teetering around 3:29/3:30. Just before the final straight we came to a really tight turn and had to go around a gate which isn’t what you want when every second counts! Then I came to the final straight, which was on grass making it even harder to finish! I hit the booster button though and whizzed towards the line. As I crossed the line my eyes fixated on the clock – 35:00!

Now I was left wondering whether my official time was sub-35 minute or not. There was a chance that my chip time was just under. Although as you can see from the photo above it does like like there'd be at least 2 seconds between the 35:01 on the clock and when I first hit the finish mat. I didn’t find out until late afternoon, but it was good news -34:59! A sub 35 10K had originally been my target for the end of the year, then the end of the summer, and then the end of July. That second made a big difference! This was the culmination of months and months of training so I was absolutely delighted. Sub-34, you are next!

Position: 6th/ 553
Time: 34:59 (PB!!!!!)

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Close 2nd in BBC Running Club 10K

I entered the BBC Running Club 10K after seeing it advertised on the Runner's World website. I had no idea what the BBC Running Club was but the race is staged at Regent’s Park, which is a flat course so I thought it’d be a good opportunity to have a crack at the PB. Saying that, it was an evening race and a day at work followed by a rush hour tube journey probably isn’t the best preparation. Having heard some of the results from previous years I went into to race thinking I had a decent chance of a top 3 finish though.

The race route is 3 laps around a section of the park. It was pissing it down before the start which is just the way I like it. The start was on a very narrow path so I got myself a position right on the start line to avoid the congestion. The race was started (for I think the 26th year) and a trio of us got away quickly, all three of us too quickly! I settled into 3rd place as the pace was too fast for me if I was to go the distance. It was the right decision as the guy directly in front of me slowed very quickly and it wasn’t long until I breezed past him into 2nd – talk about peaking too early! 

Often in 10Ks I get an idea very early on of what kind of position I’m likely to come in. At this early stage I thought 2nd was a stick on. The leader (Gareth Evans) was already a fair distance in front of me (although I could still see him at least) and I’d just breezed past  the other guy but I was still going comfortably at my normal 10K race pace. This is when racing tactics really come in. If I was just racing for position I could have probably just eased down a bit and taken 2nd place, but I had my PB top beat as well!

Gareth Evans pipping me to the post in last race

I was on my lonesome for most of the rest of the race and couldn’t see anyone behind me. For most of the time I could see my target in front of me, but it seemed like too much of a distance to make up. You just never know though so I battled on. Then as I started the last lap I was getting some cheers from the marshals and race organisers and one shout of “GO ON, YOU CAN CATCH HIM!”. This was an absolutely inspirational shout from the big man and it instantly gave me a boost and some real belief! So I kept battling on in hope more than anything. Incredibly, I began to notice the gap was reducing quickly as we neared the final 2km. I was in hot pursuit of the leader, dramatic stuff! Despite being almost resigned to coming 2nd for most of the race, I genuinely thought that I was going to catch him in the closing stages.

Gareth was hanging on though. We reached some traffic (human) as well as we started lapping the slower runners so a bit of weaving was required. Then the final straight came sooner than I had anticipated. I initiated my sprint finish and made up a massive amount of ground, but it was too little too late in the end. He managed to hang by the skin of his teeth, with only 2 measly seconds separating us. There was almost 2 minutes between me and 3rd place! After the race it transpired that the victor was the same man who pipped me to the post 2 weeks ago in the Richmond race. So not only did I equal my PB but the same person was a position ahead of me again as you can see from results below. I’ll need to find out what races he isn’t doing next time!

After getting changed it was time for the prize-giving. This time I was given a wee glass ornament, which is something different. This made up for the slight disappointment I was feeling for not beating my PB, and for being so close to winning the race. The better man won on the day, although we both paced our races quite poorly. This is definitely an area that I need to improve on.

After the prize-giving many of us headed to the pub, which in hindsight might not have been the best recovery. Four pints on an empty stomach after a 10K is not very professional and I won’t be doing that again! But I made some new friends, who you can see in the photo below, and had a great night with Jason and the girls and members of the BBC Running Club. I was even having a pint with a guy whose job it to make up the questions for the Weakest Link! Sometimes London isn’t so bad……..


Position: 2nd/134
Time: 34:59 (equal PB)   

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Good Time in Harlow 10 Mile

On Sunday I was Essex bound for the Harlow 10 Mile race. I had never run a 10 mile race before so this was a good chance to test myself at this distance. It would also be good preparation for the Great Scottish Run in September, which being a half marathon is 13.1 miles.

There was a quite a big field with 378 runners finishing the race. The route was predominantly along roads on a mainly flat course. Below are 2 fantastic photos of the start - if you click on them you can see bigger versions. The photographer Rich Kenington has kindly allowed me to post these. You can see his other photos of this event and others  at

On your marks.....Get set......


I really felt that I’d started far too quickly was really flagging by the 4th mile, before the halfway point! This was reflected in my mile split times but I kept on battling. I’d never stopped during a race and I was planning on getting into the habit today!

Somehow I got a 2nd wind for the last 3 or so miles, even posting my fastest mile split in the last mile. If only I’d had that much energy halfway through! It’s always easier when you know the finish line is within reach though. I even managed a sprint finish, and yet again almost caught the runner in front on the line but he just hung on. I finished in 11th place in 58 minutes and 25 seconds.

In the end I was very happy with my time as it was above my expectations before the race, even if I’d hoped for better than 11th place. It also suggests that I should have a very good chance of posting a sub 35 10K time!

Position: 11th/378
Time: 58:26

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Home course provides another 10K PB!

A very early start on a sunny Saturday morning for this ‘Self Transcendence 10K’ in Battersea Park. Races tend to be on a Sunday which allows me to have one or two beers (and yes I actually mean one or two) on the Friday, so I was quite disciplined going to the pub but abstaining completely.

I do a lot of my training in Battersea Park so I'm pretty comfortable with the surroundings and the course is as flat as a tattie scone. This gave me the confidence that I was well capable of a PB. However, I didn’t have the ideal preparation for this 8am 10K. After missing my train by about 30 seconds, I had a 2 mile run on my hands (well my feet), just to get to the start line! My initial thoughts were that this could cost me 30 seconds in the race! It would be a horrendous start to the weekend if I missed this though so I wasted no time and made it to Battersea Park just in time for registration, 15 minutes before the race was to start.

There looked to be quite a few serious club runners around me so knew I’d have a battle on my hands. My main aim was to get closer to that elusive sub-35 minute 10K though. I went out pretty quickly with the leading pack, but soon a few runners broke off and I was left to fight it out with one runner. Just like my previous 10K race I was in another battle and we pushed each other hard. I let him dictate the pace though as I felt I’d went out a bit too quickly. I kept covering any distance he pushed forward but I thought I was struggling. As always the battle was now body against mind. The course consisted of approximately 4 laps of the park so it was quite monotonous at times, but I’m used to doing 20-odd miles round there so I pushed on.

I could still see my fellow runner going into the final straight but still had a bit of distance between us. I always have a wee bit left in the tank at the end of 10Ks though so I hit the boost button and then with a sprint finish that Linford Christie would have been proud of I pipped him to the post! We actually ended up with the same official time but I stole the 6th (I didn't actually know what position it was at the time) position with the proverbial head. 

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I’d finished in 6th and that 1st – 7th men received a trophy which is above. More importantly I skimmed another 20 odd seconds off my PB and not far off that sub-35 10K! That's also my third 10K PB of the year and I don't intend to stop now. So altogether a great morning.

Unfortunately there are no photos from this race yet but I’ll post them when they appear.
Position: 6th/251
Time: 35:25 (PB)

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Podium Finish and Smashed 10K PB!

I'm now well into my training for the Great Scottish Run and Loch Ness Marathon in the Autumn but I'm still desperate to cut down my 10K time. I haven't done a 10K race since February so it was time for another crack. I’ve done a vast amount of training since then for the marathon so I knew I had a decent chance of a PB.

My chosen race was set in the beautiful surroundings of Lee Valley Park, in Waltham Abbey in Essex, on a gorgeous hot summer's day. Entering these kind of races is a great opportunity escape the hustle and bustle of the city and is a great wee day out! It was a very well organised event and I particularly enjoyed the classic tunes they were playing out of some speakers before the race. They included all the classics I listen to on Real Radio and Gold FM so it got me relaxed at the start!

The race was started by Mark Richardson, Olympic silver medallist and World Championship gold medallist no less! As I tend to do, I got away very quickly and I was in fact a bit of an early pace-setter. I led a group of about 5 runners. We were going at a very fast pace of around 3:20 mins per km and I knew I was out of my ‘comfort zone’.  By the 4K mark I had started slowing a little and the eventual winner of the race sped off into the distance at around this point. Then I started a battle with the remaining runner. We were pushing each other very hard and stealing the lead off each other at various points. It was pretty epic! Somehow I got the energy to push away and tried to get a comfortable distance between us.

But then a guy from the original pack came from nowhere (you can see him in the pic above), he must have been saving his energy for the last km or so! I tried to battle back bit it was no good. At this point I was most concerned about where the guy behind me was as I was determined to hold onto 3rd place for a podium finish. Then I saw the finish line and hit the boost button as you can see in the above pic. It was some sprint and I was so close to catching 2nd place – came within a second! And although I didn't even get a glimpse of him for the 2nd half of the race, I was only about 30 secs off the winner. I would have taken 3rd place before the race though and I was more delighted with smashing my 10K personal best, finishing in 35 mins and 48 seconds.

There were a number of special aspects to this race. Firstly, I smashed my PB and did my first sub-36 minute 10K. Secondly I achieved my highest position in a proper 10K race. And thirdly, I actually won a silver plate, presented by Mark Richardson. As you can see from the photos of the presentation, I was a very happy boy!

Next target, to go under 35 mins…

Position: 3rd/379
Time: 35:48 (PB)

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