He didn't get where he is today by stealing somebody else's catchphrase.

Here comes another one...

When I started running at the beginning of the year, I never imagined that I’d be entering several running events, but here I was in Plymouth City Centre on a rainy Sunday morning. Sure, we’ve all got up for odd things at odd hours, but given my previous form this probably seemed a bit out of character. I’m here early on a Sunday morning to run of all things. That’s twice in the space of a month. What’s wrong with me?

After finishing last month’s Half-Marathon, I was desperate not to let things slide and started to hunt out other races, because Christmas is on the horizon. Christmas is an awful time for your body. You spend two weeks sat on your arse whilst being pelted with lardy food. Tasty it may be, but healthy it’s not. To prevent the rot setting in, I needed to look at some other races to motivate me and keep my fitness up through the winter.

The first of these was the Plymouth 10K, a relatively new race through the city-centre of Plymouth. According to the organisers of the race, there were approximately 1,800 entrants - or put another way, about 10% of Cardiff’s Half-Marathon entry. A smaller event it may be, but any race that promises “a big chunky medal” for finishers can’t be bad in my books - so I signed up approximately three weeks ago.

Training for this race was vastly different to running the half. I knew I could run 10K - a half-marathon’s double that. Unfortunately, what I couldn’t do was run it very quickly. To address that I focussed on speed-work, namely the process of getting used to running distances quicker. That’s been hard work, but nonetheless I’ve been gradually reducing my average time per kilometre. It’s resulted in me being able to consistently run a kilometre in under six minutes (or a mile in ~9 minutes).

I set up a training plan for the three weeks to the race, which predicted me a race time of 1hr, 1 minute and 57 seconds. I wondered if running in familiar territory would allow me to get that time lower still, but only race-day would tell. The weather before the event wasn’t great. On the morning of the race the rain was ever-present, with a biting cold wind to accompany it. Luckily, just thirty seconds into the start of the race the rain magically stopped and the clouds cleared. Huzzah!

The course was largely divided into two groups - those that would finish in over an hour and those that would finish in less. Forever the optimist, I waited as part of the second group, but soon found that I was having to make my way past a considerable amount of "traffic" until the pace settled down.

The kilometers zipped past fairly promptly. My Nike+ was telling me my pace was under 6:00 per KM and I was feeling quite optimistic, even if I was pushing myself harder than I had for my previous run. Due to the nature of the course, I'd not long passed the first water station at about 3 - 4KM and  saw the race leader coming towards me on the other side of the road. In the 20-ish minutes it had taken me to get that far, he was well on his way to the home straight. I still find that amazing. He finished in just over 31 minutes.

As for me, well, I continued to push myself. As a n00b at this running malarky, I tend to rely a bit on my Nike+ info to tell me my pace. Unfortunately, it seemed to get a bit out of sync with reality, meaning that I'd not entirely run as fast as I'd thought. However, when I crossed the line I'd still put in a respectable time - 1hr and 16 seconds. This was faster than my training plan predicted, but it still irks me somewhat. Finishing just seventeen seconds quicker would've resulted in me getting an "under the hour" time. 

Not to worry, though - I’ve still got a chunky medal.


But to top it all, the event’s given me the will to enter a few more races and improve my time further. There's the Plympton 10K in January and I'll be entering the Plymouth Half-Marathon in April. As the year comes to an end, perhaps I will call myself a runner after all.
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