On the day where my friends were cycling the Manchester 100 miles from Wythenshawe to Cheshire and back, I decided to take on the UKFast Salford 10k.
My friend Jacqui had asked me to do the 100 mile cycle with her but for medical reasons I’ve been on a cycling ban so I couldn’t put in the training that would have been required for such a huge event! Initially I was gutted, but after hearing about their hard slog of over 8 hours I’m actually quite glad I couldn’t do it!!
Instead I was going to go out with our friends, one of which was home from Australia so there was food and wine aplenty. Then gin, and prosecco…and after around 8 drinks I got home and to my bed and thought it would be a great idea to set my alarm for the 10k race which was being held only 1 mile from my house!
I’m not sure if it was complete determination, powerful inspiration from knowing what Jacqui was about to take on, or just total bonkers!
I actually woke early, without a headache. Bonus. I could have easily turned over for a Sunday lie in; after all, no one was expecting me to race; but I got up, ate porridge and threw on my running gear.
I’ve done the City of Salford 10k before, back in 2014 when it was sponsored by Club La Santa, I was at my peak running fitness (pre knee injury/surgery) and my finisher time was 01:09:36.
Then the knee thing happened, and well, I haven’t completed a 10k race since.
The Salford 10k has changed it’s name and sponsor since then, but the route is still very much the same (just a few tweaks). It’s well known as a flat and fast course, perfect for first timers and those chasing a new personal best.
The main reason I decided to do it, was to prove to myself that I could. I’ve agreed to do the Manchester Half Marathon next month yet I was struggling to run more than 6k without cramping up in my left calf. A race situation is so different to a daily run though, and I figured that the atmosphere would carry me along. That and there’s no way I would stop and dent my pride!
I arrived at the Race HQ just after 9 am, there was no queue to register on the day so after getting my race number I went down to the cafe for a water and some homemade vegan energy balls made with Cacao and Orange.
After a quick loo stop I went for a short jog to begin my warm up and did some stretching. The official warm up took place at 10 am so I did that too. The race was due to start at 10.15 am but due to a delay in getting the health and safety ‘go-ahead’ it didn’t actually start until around 10.35. Which was a bit frustrating as it was difficult to stay warm for that long.
That said, I was underway around 4 minutes after the gun time due to being towards the back of a 3500 strong field of runners at the start.
My intention was never to try and achieve a PB, I was wondering if I even had 10k in my legs so there was no chance I would put a time pressure on myself too. I took it steady all the way around. The route it quite industrial and so in many places there are no supporters and not much to look at.
I clocked my watch at the 5k mark which showed just over 33 minutes. I felt fine with that, and although I’ve been chasing that elusive sub 60 10k, I didn’t let myself get carried away. Instead I tried to maintain my pace. (I’ve only ever done 1 sub 60 10k and that was a training run!)
In reality I’d actually slowed around the 5 and 6 km marks but with my mind set on negative splits in the end it leveled out. I finished in 01:06:12. I’m happy with that, and I’ve got another shiny new medal to add to the collection.
I finished the race and asked a stranger to take a photo of me as I was on my own. I think she felt a bit sorry for me but actually I found the whole thing quite liberating. I had no pressure of running with or against anyone and no pressure of anyone waiting for me or expecting me at a certain time. Don’t get me wrong, I love it when my friends and family come to support me, but with this race being within walking distance at home I really enjoyed just ‘popping out for run’ and achieving something all on my own.
The race cost £26 and in the finishers bag was a UKFast drinks bottle, a bottle of water, a mini Soreen malt loaf, a printed technical t-shirt and a medal.
Have you ever traveled to a race alone? What’s the best thing you’ve found in a finishers bag?