Saturday, September 13, 2014

Cardiff 10k 2014 - my race review

September 7th 2014 - race website

The basics:
Course: 7/10 - while still around Cardiff city centre it was a 'hilly' course compared to the usual Cardiff 10k route. Not their fault - the NATO summit induced the change.
Marshalling: 9/10 - friendly, warm, helpful but no marked time zones in the start area.
Facilities: 6/10 - deduction for having to have the port-a-loo blocks lining both sides of the start area.
Organisation: 9/10 - Cardiff 10k do run a good simple no fuss event, for a change at an event the PA was even pretty good. Point deducted for the disposable timing chips.
Fellow runners: 9/10 - almost a full score as the Welsh running community is super smiley and friendly, I am knocking the one point off for poor pack communication (the odd "watch out", "keep right" and so forth is needed when a runner has tripped, or a bollard is in the way,
Crowd: 8/10 - support in the start / finish was awesome, but it was a bit patchy in the middle of the race.
My performance: 5/10 - literally, it was my 10th 10k and this turned out my 5th fastest time. Given injury hit year I was very happy, so this score is a little tongue in cheek ;-)
My time: 56:09

Taken by Chris Cornell and posted on the Cardiff 10k facebook pages
- sadly there are no photos of me running as attending alone this year

My Race
Setting out with no goals was the mission statement I had given myself which was complete nonsense of course. I had a Garmin, I know what I've run before, therefore I had some time slots somewhere in mind. The main idea was to go out steady and see if I could find some progression through the run. Happily the post-run feedback showed I achieved something of this aim, shown below.

I enjoyed the atmosphere greatly and the roads weren't too crowded at any point to hinder my progress. Where there were patches of supporters it was nice, noisy and very enthusiastic. The first 2k was for me about controlling my own enthusiasm and holding pace during the gradual incline of the first part of the race. Going into the second 2k I began to feel the effort of the incline and found I was very keen on seeing the half way mark. Part of knowing the course well meant that I was projecting too far ahead at times and getting too far out of the moment.

The middle 2k around halfway was solid and at this point that course knowledge meant I knew that the climbing was in the main behind us (I say climbing, but this was not exactly a hilly course in the true sense). Before halfway was the one water station that I saw, though a lack of signing meant I more or less didn't see it was coming. My plan was to not take a drink so it didn't phase me, had I wanted some it would have meant a bit of a fight to get across the course. Shortly after the warm sunshine made me wondered if I had been wise missing the drink but ultimately my plan was just fine.

Through the fourth 2k block I found I was mentally working really hard, and that while the feedback from my legs was fine my engine room was complaining of a lack of base fitness. I concentrated on holding onto form, trying to stay smooth (these things are relative of course), and felt that I was succeeding in holding pace. Into the final 2k I enjoyed a good finish line fever boost and sustained an effort for the final 1.5k, which is net downhill and also had space to open the legs a bit. Managing a 'sprint' finish in the final funnel was gratifying, if not a little annoying to people I passed, I was pushing to nip under 56 minutes but fell a little short (!).

All round I was very pleased with my race. After the issues of injury early in the year and a lack of motivation over the summer I was pleased that this race made me feel I was turning a corner. Next year is the races 30th anniversary and I hope to be there chasing a PB while enjoying the brilliant atmosphere.

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