I need to start this off by saying that I really underestimate myself. I do. I guess it’s something that most people do but you know, sometimes you just need to take a step back and say yep, I’ve got this.
My first ever 10k race was in 2013 and I finished it in 01:09:50. My second 10k was in 2015 and I finished it it 01:01:29. I did my third 10k last week, and finished in 01:00:33. Can’t complain about that can I?! I wish I’d managed to get under the hour mark, but I didn’t expect to even get close to my previous best so I’m super happy.
So how was the Wigan 10K?
The set-up and atmosphere:
Walking into town, there were runners everywhere. If you’ve taken part in a running event, you’ll know exactly how it feels to turn up on the day. You can feel the excitement and the nerves in the atmosphere. It’s noisy. It’s madness. It gets you going. There was a huge stage set up with music blasting and plenty of stalls set up to give you something to do whilst waiting. It helped that the world food markets were on too – so plenty of sweets, chocolates, bread, ice cream, meats and the like to get your stomach rumbling…
My favourite section had to be the massage section! All runners had the opportunity to get a free massage before and after the race, and obviously I took full advantage. Had a lovely young guy doing my calves before the race, and I think it definitely helped to loosen me up a little. I didn’t get cramp once, and that’s something I have struggled with a couple of times during training! I went back after the race and had my calves worked at again. The girl doing it really worked the kinks out of my legs. She focused a lot around my lower calves and I could feel the popping as she pushed the muscle around. It hurt, but oh it felt so good.
The Race start
Everyone headed towards the start and it was just a huge crowd. Once the countdown had happened, it took some time to get properly moving. After what felt like ages I’d managed to get to the start line – it was only 4 and a half minutes but I spotted a couple of times that only crossed 10 minutes after the start. Pacers were placed at intervals to give people an idea of where to start, but I’m guessing a lot ignored that.
Everyone always seems to start really fast at a race, getting ahead of themselves. After a kilometre of so, people were stopping and walking and it meant a lot of us had to weave in and out to keep moving. It wasn’t so much of a problem at the beginning as we had both sides of the road, but when I got between 3-4km the first starters were heading back so we were sharing the road. Thankfully it had mostly cleared by that time. I think it would have been better to have a staggered start to be honest.
Hillier than I expected! We didn’t have steep hills, but we were going up long gradients and you can definitely feel it when you’re running. The Manchester 10k is known for being a pretty flat and fast course, and Wigan is actually quite hilly in parts. Luckily – I’ve been training outside so I’ve done steeper hills on my runs in the past month!
We had music in three spots along the course, so some places were properly buzzing and others were very quiet. For the most part though, the residents of the streets we ran through were outside cheering us on. A couple of young girls were even manning their own water stand!
The proper water station was just after 4km, at the stadium. I loved running around there, especially with the Warriors rugby team handing us our water! Then we headed back the way we came with a slight detour through the park at the end. This was my favourite part. We were at around 8km here and the park was so full of people. The atmosphere here was incredible, it really helps you to dig deeper and get that speed back up. We also had another water station here, and I just had to throw some water over myself because it had gotten a lot warmer out! I also spotted my mum and dad here. Well, I say spotted – I could hear my mum shouting loudly for me…
As we left the park we had a kilometre to go, and even more people surrounding us. It felt so good to cross that finish line, and even better to receive the text with my chip time!
I’ve realised now that I run best when I start out slower than the pace I want to hit, and take it easy for the first half. Coming back is where I’ll ramp the speed up a little, and the last couple of kilometres I can give a strong finish. Basically, negative splits. It didn’t quite work out that way for this race – my pace was a little all over the place – but the important thing is that my pace was faster than usual throughout.
The first two kilometres were fast, as expected. Everyone just gets excited and it’s hard not to get caught up in the speed. I ran them both under 6 minutes. Then I slowed down a little and ran the rest of the race at a pace between 6-6:14. When I got out of the park though, I found that extra burst of energy and my last kilometre was 5:39! You can see the full split information here if you wish!
I actually felt really good throughout this race, and thought afterwards that maybe I could have pushed myself a little bit harder in the first half but then you never really know. Overall, I was super happy to have beaten my previous PB but also a little gutted to see just how close I was to beating that hour mark. Next time eh? It was a great day and a great run, one I’ll definitely be wanting to do again next year!