Now if you’ve been reading my blog for a while or know me at all you’ll know I detest 10ks. This is kind of amusing considering how many I used to do back when I first started running. I was doing a 10k every weekend it seemed. But it eroded my enjoyment of running as I was always after a faster time and was disappointed when it invariably didn’t happen.
So now I just stick to half marathons and marathons and any other race I do is usually just for fun, or if I’m in the height of fitness (rarely) I might target it to simply see how I can do or as a good speed session.
But I was contacted by Millet Sports to ask if I’d like a place at the Brighton 10k to do a review for 2XU, who are one of the main sponsors, and would include some free kit from 2XU. This is obviously a runner’s dream so I thought why not. I like Brighton, I’ve done the half marathon before and enjoyed it, it’s a nice day out and it might be a good idea to avoid doing a long run and do a slightly more tempo shorter run (my running mojo has been a bit duff recently – more on that in another post).
Initially I was going to get the train but theys weren’t early enough for the 8.30am race start. So this meant driving (and leaving ridiculously early). The Park & Ride was sold out but luckily I have a lovely friend who lives in Brighton and gave me a visitor’s parking permit. My dad, bless his heart, said he’d drive and support. But, ooof, a 5.30am leaving time was painful for both of us!My dad wanted in on the leg photo action too 😉 #dadsofbloggersWe got to Brighton just after 7am. Though it was super handy having the free parking space it was in Zone W which was just over three miles to Preston Park, where the race start was. We did know this beforehand but obviously the reality is something else! We got a stomp on and headed our way there. Can I just say, I’m so proud of my dad. This was basically a parkrun for him. We couldn’t hang about, we had to move quickly to get to the area in time (and I needed the loo somewhat critically and needed to find a toilet – a long queue at a portable loo in the race village was not going to cut it). After losing three stone, power walking three miles (and a fair portion uphill) was far easier than it used to be for him!As we got closer we started joining other runners walking their way to the start and the buzz of the race atmosphere became bigger and bigger. It was a beautifully sunny morning but boded to be a rather hot day. Perfect for the beach but probably not for the marathon that was starting at 9.15am.
I was a little dubious about wearing the full-length leggings for the race and had intended on switching to my shorts but having wore the leggings all morning I was quite enjoying the super tight compressed feeling they were giving my legs. And to be honest, the faff of changing was far too great. Yes I might be a bit hot, but at least I’d be super streamlined!I wore the new 2XU MCS Run Compression Tights which were really comfortable. Yes they’re tight but not in a “oof I need to lay off the cake” kind of way. More like compression socks but for your entire legs (obviously). And they didn’t slip down ONCE. Not ONCE. They kind of stick to you while allowing lots of movement. They also have these detailed bits on them which are apparently for “anatomical mapping for targeted support to muscles to reduce soreness and improve recovery” [Source].I also wore the 2XU GHST Short Sleeve Tee which was SO light and very cool. This was an ideal top to wear for the temperatures as it wicked away sweat and was very thin. It did pain me somewhat to attach my bib to it using pins!The race village was great. A number of portable loos – though I didn’t use any nor the bag drop. There were also a selection of food vans, one of which was a smoothie and oat-based one. I thought this was brilliant (and clearly very popular looking at the large queue). There were non-dairy options as well as a variety of smoothies. Great idea!
My dad said goodbye as he was off to find somewhere to spectate on the course and I headed off to the start funnel. It was all rather smooth and we started on time. It was fairly busy at the start so I had to be careful of not stepping on people’s heels but it stretched out after a bit. There were loads of people cheering from the sides which was great. There were lots of marathon runners walking to the race start so that helped boost spectators and cheering.Clearly doing a bit of window shopping while my dad was taking a photo of me! There was lots of crowds and interesting buildings on the course.Do you know what was really nice? A pretty much entirely flat course. There was no “oh god, mile X has that hill” to dread. Yes flat courses (especially for a marathon) can be a bit dull but it was just so nice to know the only thing really keeping me back was my own fitness and race strategy, rather than something external like inclines.
Having said that, it was warm and within a mile I was overly hot. The leggings were lovely to run in (no slipping down, no chafing, I felt very streamlined) but they were hot. But it was only 10k so really it wasn’t terrible.My aim was to take the first half steady. There was no PB going to happen today, not in my wildest dreams. I’m not particularly fit (I say this all the time, I really should do something about this if I do ever intend on getting PBs again). But I did want a good, controlled race. I felt good running around 7.30s so I stuck there. I was comfortably uncomfortable if that makes sense.Hitting the seafront (basically the second half of the race) things began to get hotter and harder. I tend to enjoy out and backs when they’re short as you can see runners coming the other way and it’s a nice way to take your mind off things. Though it is a long out and back and the whole time you’re thinking “I’ve got to come all the way back”.
But, as more of a long distance runner, it was easy to stay motivated with the hard effort because it was less than a parkrun to go now. I’d stepped up my pace to closer to 7 min/miles and it was less comfortable and more uncomfortable.
As we hit the last mile (and .2) we were turning around. So mentally I just thought “run to the finish”, which I vaguely knew was near the Brighton Pier. A blip in the horizon but a blip nonetheless.
There was a slight headwind (a mild breeze which is amplified about 100 times when on the last mile of any race – whether a reality or in your mind). I was steadily overtaking people which was nice and I prayed to hold on to the pace. I overtook one lady just on the finishing strip (the crowds were fantastic! So many people cheering!) and she pipped me about 50m to the line. I thought “fair play, you deserve that!” I had nothing left to counter it. She also came up to me afterwards and said she was grateful I overtook her as it gave her the boost she needed to up her speed.
I saw my dad on the sidelines which was great and he shouted encouragement. I saw the gun time on the finish as it was ticking towards 46 minutes and just hoped to finish under that arbitrary figure. I did 🙂
I’m really pleased with this time. Not a PB (my PB will stand at 42:50 for a long time yet I think!) but faster than I thought I would. It felt very controlled and manageable.
I met up with my dad and he told me he’d walked about 5k himself to get to the three locations he saw me at and then be at the finish. Bless him, I’m so lucky to have such an encouraging dad.
We then started the long walk back… another three mile walk to the car. I had a little post race photoshoot before starting the trek, of course 😉 What with such beautiful weather and views, it would have been foolish not to!My dad found it amusing the lengths I’d go to get a good photo for Instagram.And then the walk back to the car. There were lots of foodie vans on set-up which was cool, but as it wasn’t even 10am I avoided the temptation. We did buy a large Diet Coke from a soda fountain to share though (ahhhh my nectar). I liked the fact that they had water fountain areas for people too that had been set-up.My top supporter! It’s safe to say we were both fairly knackered when we finally arrived back at the car an hour later. We’d both covered quite a distance that day – and in some rather warm temperatures! I really felt for those who were running the marathon at that point. It would definitely be a tough one.
Despite the heat and it being a dreaded 10k, I thoroughly enjoyed this race.
Do you wear compression gear?
How far do you like to walk before a race?
What makes a good 10k for you?
**Full disclaimer: I received a free entry and 2XU top and leggings in exchange for a review post. All opinions are my own honest ones.**