It was about 4•C and the stiff breeze was from the north,which gave a sharp contrast to the bright sunshine and blue sky. Behind the start line eager runners waited for the count down and I turned around to look at them all , nervous, impatient, happy and relaxed, every emotion representative in the expressions on 2000 faces.
Off we went, the first kilometer was slow and I lead a group of 5 out, my instinct was to push and open a gap but the reality was that if I wanted to break my personal best then patience and pacing is paramount.
The group pulled past me and for a few fleeting moments I kicked on hoping this was just a temporary change of tempo but quickly realising that I hadn’t the equipment to maintain the pace for another 5 miles.
The only noise in the still morning air of Doncaster city centre was my own light breathing and the gentle lapping of feet on pavement. The course wound through the town before heading back out towards the racecourse where we started. 16:49 through 5k, feeling good, slight headwind, no problem, this was on!
Recently I read that smiling makes you a more efficient runner so I smiled and thanked everyone who gave me encouragement and clapped along the route, it seemed to work as the long stretch of road before me washed by.
The 8km mark was a turn around a traffic cone and thoughts of hill repeats on the flyover played through my head as if on record, my legs instinctively dropped the stride length and the cadence increased to match it as I drove forward down the slight hill knowing there was only 5 minuets or so of blank thoughts until the end.
The final half mile felt like I was coming up from a deep water dive that I had held my breath for, I could see the daylight above but my body was begging for air , the only way was forward, the gap closing, silence everywhere apart from the screaming of my muscles as the end approached.
I crossed the finish line in 33:40, my target achieved.
On reflection, the consistent speed work and mileage has been key to breaking through my personal boundary. Regular long intervals with short recovery helped me feel comfortable for long spells at race pace and looking forward to next spring and marathon season I think this will be key to more minutes off my times. Thoroughly recommend getting down to speed work or hills to anyone wanting to make gains this winter!