D Day 10k – Anna Smith-James
I didn't have particularly high hopes for the D Day 10k. After a week of not feeling 100% and a rubbish parkrun the day before, I had even questioned whether to go to the race. In the end I decided it would be nice to see the Hedgie gang and just have an easy plod. The sun was shining, it's a flat course (albeit a lot of around a car park) and a Starbucks just next to the finish. Might as well give it a go!
A bunch of us Hedgies did a half a mile gentle jogging (something I rarely do but we had time on our hands) and then we headed to the start.
I actually couldn't believe how strong I felt and yet how quick (for me) I appeared to be going. So I decided to see what I could do. If I crashed and burned then so be it, but right then I felt comfortable.
The course itself at D-Day is a bit dull. I've done it before a good few years ago but it's changed vastly. It's unrecognisable to what I ran previously. I knew there were three laps but I couldn't work out where that would happen. I just kept focused on the runners ahead of me and gradually picked a few of them off.
As I got into mile two, now down to 7min/miles, I was still wondering where this speed and ease of running had come from. The course was super flat and the wind, fairly gentle, seemed to be mostly going sideways at us or as a tailwind. Occasionally we'd run against it but it was only brief moments. Everything seemed to be on our side.
I passed Steve Whitehead who is normally miles ahead of me and wondered if he was just plodding it or having a bad day (I later found he was using it as a training sessions: first 5k easy, and then 1k sprints - wow!). I continued to pass runners and had no one pass me, which gave me confidence. Though to be fair, it's not a particularly big race.
There's a section of the course that runs down a gravel path and alongside the lake which was fairly pleasant. It was annoying to run on gravel at 10k speed but it was a nice change from the boring and hot car park that made up a chunk of the race. We were under some shade as well which was a welcome relief. But the path seemed to go on forever…
At halfway there was a water station and I grabbed a drink. I wasn't terribly thirsty but it was hot so I swigged a good few mouthfuls before tossing it to the side (always a delicate operations to a) not hit other runners, b) not hit any spectators, c) not throw it somewhere really obscure that it can't be cleared away later).
I hit four miles and now the effort level was high. I was in the zone of "stay with it, keep pushing" while all the time wondering when I was going to blow or have a wobbly. I felt the energy slowly being sapped out of my and I cursed myself for not having breakfast. I wondered if that would have given me more energy. Who knows.
The last mile down that gravel path was tough. I found myself alone now. The runners ahead too far away to catch and no one behind me giving chase. Mentally it was tough. Physically it was tougher. My watch beeped 6 miles and I told myself to just hold on for a few moments more. A "400m to go" sign appeared and I could see the finish ahead. Ah, smile for the camera (I'm sure that was a grimace...), "200m to go", keep going, keep going. Annnnnd finish!