So although I had clear plans that my first race this year would be in August, giving me time to get my ankle back to full health, I couldn’t resist signing up for the Leeds 10k after I ran a really good 6.5miles one weekend.
Being a last minute entry to the race I was first told my bib number would need to be picked up the day before or the morning of. However I was very happy when I got an email a few days later saying they will be posting it to me.
The race was much busier than I anticipated with I reckon around 6,000 – 7,000 runners. My ankle wasn’t feeling it’s best but after our pre-run toilet break we headed to the masses pen. The start of the race was split into three different areas, elites, under 1 hour finish and then everyone else, with pacers every 5 minutes from 40 minutes to 1:15hr.
The atmosphere at the beginning was great, with a fun warm up for all to follow dancing along to footloose. At 9:50 the klaxon went off for the masses, and we began the first mile through the streets of Leeds.
I wished my friend, Sarah, well as she set off at a great pace ahead of me. I had set myself the goal of finishing somewhere between 1:20 and 1:30 and I was going to run 10 minutes then walk 5 minutes, reducing the 5 minute walking to 3 minute if I felt good.
As it was such a sunny day there were hundred of spectators along the streets in the city centres. With free high fives from many, music playing and singers along the sides of the roads the first mile went quickly. Actually a lot quicker than I wanted at 11:39 which is the quickest mile I have ran post ankle break.
Knowing I’d set off far too quickly I slowed down. With the 26C heat beaming down I started to feel the affect and I knew my aim to walk for only 3 minutes wasn’t achievable. The second mile took us out of the city centre along the long dual carriage way which had no shade to hide from the beaming sun. Mile 2 was completed in 13:38 and I was starting to have my first “why am I doing this thoughts”.
Hitting half way I got rid of the negative thoughts and forgot about a finish time. I refocussed my thoughts and reminded myself 6 months ago I was in a wheelchair so I need to enjoy every moment of my first race. I started to cheer on others as we made the u-turn back into the town and could see the runners still heading out of town. I was also greeted with my cheering fiance just after half way and his smily face gave me an extra bit of motivation. Mile 3 was completed in 13:21
By mile 4 the heat had begun to really affect me. I hate running in warm weather and with no shade to hide from the sun it was starting to affect my mental attitude so my splits went to hell and I was running 5 minutes and walking for 3-5. Not the performance I was hoping for. This change in splits was shown by my slowest mile of 14:50
Come mile 5 my ankle started to ache. I’d taken some pain killers prior to the run so they may have started to wear off. However the pain was a dull ache and not a sharp pain so I sucked it up and tried my best to push my running minutes back up towards 10 minutes rather than 5. Mile 5 was completed in 13:53
The last mile
Hitting the last mile marker I started to feel strong. Having previously run a similar route last year I knew I was close to the finish line. The heat was still affecting me but I was feeling proud already. In the last mile there were a few people being seen to by paramedics on the side line and a lot of people resorted to walking but I kept my slow and steady pace going.
Heading to the finish line there were hundreds of people cheering you on. The finish line did seem to get further and further away but I kept my steady pace and passed the line when the clock time just hit 1:50. I paused after the finish to take a selfie and saw my friend pushing past the barrier to join me as I walked to collect my goody bag, t-shirt and medal.
Overall I loved the Asda Foundation 10k. It was very well organised and even with the souring heat there was still plenty of water at the water stations, a sprinkler and sponge station and the volunteers were handing out water at various other markers to ensure all runners were well hydrated. The course is a great one, very flat, so definitely one to try for a PB on. Just watch out so the include up the slip road to the finish line!